What was with the bikes last night?!

31 Jul

Last night Beth and I drove out to the UCB theatre to see a show. But on our way our route was blocked by hundreds of bicycles coming down Fairfax.

They just kept coming. The light would change but no one would stop. It was just a huge mass of cyclists. For a good 10 to 15 minutes I think.

What the heck was that?

40 Responses to “What was with the bikes last night?!”

  1. Myles Grant July 31, 2010 at 8:05 pm #

    You nailed it in your second paragraph — that was “Critical Mass”. Critical Mass is an effort to raise awareness of the rights of cyclists.


  2. Arielle July 31, 2010 at 8:07 pm #

    The last Friday of the month is Critical Mass— cyclists take over the roads to promote bicycle awareness. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_Mass

  3. Rachel Snyder July 31, 2010 at 8:15 pm #

    Could it have been a Critical Mass protest? We have to put up with them here in NYC, and I think they’re usually out on the last Friday of the month.

  4. Jessica July 31, 2010 at 8:16 pm #

    Bicycles are the bane of my existence. I appreciate that they are eco-friendly and all that, but too many of them have no regard for other drivers, road signs, etc. I don’t like having to take my car/motorcycle into the oncoming traffic lane because a bicycle refuses to get over to the side of the road.

    Rant over… 🙂

    • Tim August 1, 2010 at 3:10 pm #

      You start off being considerate to drivers, but constant rudeness and dangerous behaviour from them grinds you down, so you start giving it back.

      The most basic example is; if you’re in a car and give way to another car then 95% of the time you get a wave of thanks. If you’re on a bicycle and give way to a car that drops to about 10%.

  5. There are five runs listed from SF to SD this week/end. One is a charity run, the others are clubs and club races…

  6. rob schwager July 31, 2010 at 8:22 pm #

    it was probably a Critical Mass run.

  7. Zoe July 31, 2010 at 8:28 pm #

    I had the exact same thing happen to me, in Paris of all places. It was about 10 years ago and we were right outside our hotel. All of a sudden the road (or rather, rue) filled up with bicyclists. They completely filled the road for at least 15 minutes. It was surreal and for some reason felt a little magical. Like they appeared, took over the world and then disappeared without explanation. My french wasn’t good enough to ask for or understand an explanation for them.

  8. fibrowitch July 31, 2010 at 8:36 pm #

    It is a group called Critical Mass not really a group, just a group of bicyclists who gather on the last Friday of the month and try to take over an area of the city. The wiki article will give you some information on them. I have some issues with them myself. But your blog is not the time or place.

    Glad you are still blogging.

  9. Ariel July 31, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

    There is a thing in the San Jose area called Bike Party, which is basically a giant bike ride once a month. It sounds like that is something similar.

  10. megan July 31, 2010 at 9:23 pm #

    Definitely Critical Mass. I have to laugh because you’ve OBVIOUSLY been gone a while if this is the first time you’ve been impeded by them. 😉

  11. lorien July 31, 2010 at 9:57 pm #

    I love critical mass–I wish more cities and drivers were more bike-friendly.

  12. April July 31, 2010 at 11:35 pm #

    I was going to say that it sounded like a Critical Mass event. They happen here in Austin, TX from time to time, though I haven’t been able to join any so far.

  13. julie g. July 31, 2010 at 11:37 pm #

    Definitely the Critical Mass group in L.A. — and tonight’s ride was extra-special because I think the mayor was going to participate. (He had a car-related accident while riding his bike last week, and ended up with a broken arm.) Here’s some more info: http://laist.com/2010/07/27/following_bicycle_incident_villarai.php

  14. Jules August 1, 2010 at 4:03 am #

    Maybe you lucked out and it was a mass exodus of bikers from your area. I’m a cyclist and don’t see the need to disregard traffic signals. There’s too much danger doing that and I think it’s irresponsible and makes for a bad image for other cyclists when groups like Critical Mass do things like that.

    Rant over.

    Promise to keep us posted on all your auditions!!! I can’t wait to see you on the screen again!

  15. Jules August 1, 2010 at 4:19 am #

    Whoa. Upon further inspection, be glad it wasn’t the World Naked Bike Ride!!! Check it out on wikipedia with photos and all. Scaaaary!

  16. Annebeth August 1, 2010 at 6:09 am #

    Here in my country up till 16 just about everyone rides a bicycle.

    Annebeth L(

  17. Annebeth August 1, 2010 at 6:10 am #

    L( = 🙂

  18. Jean August 1, 2010 at 7:05 am #

    We just had a bicycle race called Le Tour de Mount Pleasant. It was incredibly annoying. They had it downtown on the 4th of July..WORST day to have it. Traffic was backed up and no one could get through.

    I love when no one thinks logically before putting on an event.

  19. Thom August 1, 2010 at 8:03 am #

    We have an organization here in Chicago called: Critical Mass they are a bike riding group that ride one Friday a month 10,000 strong. They are anti car, and can be unruly and rude to motorists. Maybe it was something like that. I have asked the city council about this, because they block intersections and all traffic has to stop for them,(including ambulances) some motorists get angry and sometimes problems occur, but the city allows it, even though there are no police directing traffic on the route. It is crazy!

  20. Sarah August 1, 2010 at 9:27 am #

    Yep, probably a critical mass. We’ve had them here in the middle of nowhere, but when only half a dozen people are into riding bikes there isn’t much “mass” to it. Join in the fun!

  21. Sarah August 1, 2010 at 9:28 am #

    Also, holding up traffic is kind of the point of a critical mass. It’s usually the cyclists who are inconvenienced by the people in cars, for all the grumblers above. 🙂

  22. Zack August 1, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

    They do it in Minneapolis too, which is pretty much pointless. This is one of the most cyclist-friendly cities in the country, and a critical mass does nothing more than give cyclists a bad name. Like when they were holding up traffic on a downtown street that had just been given a bike lane. They GAVE you a bike lane on a main artery of downtown traffic (in addition to every other street already having one). What else do you want? It’s not necessary to be so entitled and “punk rock” about everything.

  23. Ali M August 1, 2010 at 5:03 pm #

    Wow – to all the cyclist haters out there = No regard for people’s lives ie; my child who is riding with me. We wear helmets, use hand signals, keep to our side of the road to still get almost run over and attacked by unleashed dogs (my husband now has loss of feeling in his calf thanks to neglectful dog owners). Critical Mass has a point. Oh you poor drivers that are held up for an eve – here’s me playing my harp for you.

    I usually don’t voice my opinion this much esp on Jorge’s blog – butt4 I needed to share my angst.

    Do keep us posted on upcoming events Jorge – I miss you on my big screen – time to find a rerun of Becker and then watch another disc of LOST

  24. Steve Soboslai August 1, 2010 at 8:02 pm #


    I wanted share with you this tribute to Lost that my band put together! Needless to say – you’re in it!

    I am going to think twice about which eggs I buy next time, too!

    Take care,


  25. Gia August 1, 2010 at 10:06 pm #

    My sister Adonia has been actively trying to increase the bike community’s access to streets in LA, so I’m glad to hear that there were a bunch of bikers en masse! I used to love the Critical Mass rides in San Francisco. Bring them to Orange County!
    Yay for people on bikes!!
    🙂 Gia

  26. KB August 1, 2010 at 10:15 pm #

    Gotta love people protesting their ‘rights’ by intentionally breaking laws en masse.

    And this is coming from some who’s never had a driver’s license.

  27. Betty August 1, 2010 at 10:18 pm #

    Yup, sounds like Critical Mass, last Friday of every month.


  28. Danny B. August 2, 2010 at 12:28 am #

    Hi Jorge,

    I don’t wish to rant on your blog, lord knows I’d hate it if someone did on mine, but as an avid road cyclist, I cannot hold my tongue.

    I live in Los Angeles (grew up in Hawai’i, used to do training rides around Lanikai), I’m sure what you hit is “Critical Mass, like other posters have said.

    If you read the laws, cyclist have every right to the road as cars. And recently, a law was put into the books to define the distance that a car has to be from a cyclist when passing, 3 feet. Which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s a lot when most of the time you are side swiped by big SUV’s.

    Like drivers, cyclist has two ways doing it, defensively or offensively. Even in the cycling community, there’s a fight about how to ride, defensively (like most city bicycle guide books will tell you), or offensively (like Critical Mass).

    I couldn’t say who’s right or who’s wrong. It’s a never ending circle of, “I hate cyclists they should get off the road because they don’t follow the law.” vs. “I hate cars because they think they own the road, and don’t obey the laws so why should I?”

    Truth is, we should share the road, there’s plenty out there for everyone.

    And one last rant… Not all cyclist do it just to be “Eco-Friendly”, Some do it because they cannot afford a car and have to get to work. But lots of us do it because we love it. When I saw Alexi Grewal win the gold medal in the 1984 games in L.A., Something in me turned on, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

    Sorry to take up so much space, feel free to delete this post. I just thought someone else needed to defend the cyclist out there, and not necessarily “Critical Mass”.

  29. Annette August 2, 2010 at 8:15 am #

    Seeing as it was on the last Friday of the month, I’m going to agree that it was Critical Mass. Super fun group ride with some meaning behind it. I participated in June’s Mass here in Chicago and there was some sweet, sweet vindication in blocking jerk cabbies. 😉

  30. Tena Lynn August 2, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    totally agree. I get that it is all good for health and being green and all that, but they seem to have no regard for drivers and all other vehicles. So you have to put yourself in danger to get around them.

    And they never even acknowledge that you almost bought the farm trying to keep from hitting them.

  31. Erin August 2, 2010 at 12:58 pm #

    That happened to us just a couple of weeks ago! It was “Roar on the Shore” in Erie, PA, and we were on our way to a play. We thought we had plenty of time to get there, but we hit that intersection and, just like you, were stuck for a good 15-20 minutes. Actually, I think it was closer to half an hour. I think the traffic conditions could have been handled a lot better.

    In summary… I feel your pain.

  32. Von August 2, 2010 at 1:50 pm #

    Could it have been a Critical Mass ride? We have those here in Chicago all the time. It’s a biking protest of sorts for cars to a)share the road, and b) be more aware of cyclists.
    They are actually kind of a pain, and they tie up traffic. I’ve seen police cars stuck by Critical Mass rides – not good.

  33. Goof August 2, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

    Road and driving courtesy works both ways. There are drivers that really should be mindful and share the road with bicyclists. AND there are bicyclists that need to share the road with cars and utilize their own bike lanes. EVERYONE needs to be following the rules!!!!

    In my area there is usually plenty of space in the bike lanes and yet many of the bicyclists veer out into traffic because they feel like it. Or they’ll be in small buddy groups and take up whole car lanes riding side by side instead of staying in the bike lane riding 1 by 1 in a row. This is on a two lane 55 speed road and it DOES impede traffic.

    MOST Bicyclists else where around town stay in their lane and are just fine.

    Being a motorcyclist myself, (bikers get hit by bad drivers too) I keep very much aware of all the different people and vehicles around me and am mindful of how to drive around people when needed.

    There’s my rant & two cents. 😉

  34. ed August 2, 2010 at 2:04 pm #

    I believe it’s called critical mass. happens all the time in my city

  35. Johanna August 2, 2010 at 5:40 pm #

    Maybe Jacob sent them.

  36. Capmaster August 3, 2010 at 6:48 am #

    What was it? It was a lot of bicycles ignoring the traffic light.

    If you had laid on your horn and floored it, I’ll bet you could have gotten through! Sort of like bowling …. 😀

  37. lorien August 3, 2010 at 7:55 am #

    Dang, there are a lot of bike haters around here! I agree that bike riders who don’t obey traffic rules are obnoxious, but I bet that there are statistically a LOT less of those than car and truck drivers who disobey the very same traffic laws. And I would also bet that the drivers cause a lot more deadly accidents than the riders. And any time I’ve encountered Critical Mass, there have been police officers directing traffic, so it can’t be so illegal…

    • Kevin August 4, 2010 at 6:42 am #

      If that’s the case, that it was organized like a parade route, then that’s not so bad.

  38. Ann MacKay August 3, 2010 at 10:31 am #

    I’m confused. The cyclists hold a mass gathering to raise awareness to cyclists’ rights by denying those right to everyone else on the road?? How many times have I seen cyclists coast through stop signs and cut through traffic like maniacs cutting off cars so they have to slam on the brakes? Similar rights will be applied when cyclists adhere the the laws of the road. How bout that?

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