Critical mass or critical mess?

This past Friday supposedly “celebrated” the 10th Anniversary of “Critical Mass,” a movement initially designed to make motorist aware of bicycles as an alternative form of transportation.

However, in the years since its inception the monthly ride has seemingly disintegrated into a (excuse the pun) “vehicle” for greater social issues than simply transportation, particularly with the chaos in the Middle East added to the fire.

So, when last months ride culminated in 47 citations, nine arrests and police “forced” to use pepper spray and rubber bullets, September’s ride was expected to be, if nothing else, entertaining.

People began gathering early and kept rolling in until the crowd of participents swelled to an estimated 1,100 or so (estimates vary from a few hundred to a few thousand based on the source and their political viewpoint).

Portland’s entire media contingent turned up to document the event which collected under the west end of the Burnside bridge. The media even brought their helicopters which received plenty of single fingered salutes from the masses.

Finally, once the interviews were completed, pamphlets handed out and detention phone numbers writtten on forearms, they rolled out from under the bridge and headed south on Naito Avenue. From there it would spend the next few hours snaking its way around downtown, up Broadway and Fourth Avenue, and up into the Northwest and back via Burnside.

��Along the route the confused and angry stared at the pedalling menagerie. For the most part both spectator and participant were well behaved. Occasionally though, anger and frustration, on both sides, for numerous reasons, were exchanged.

The headless beast was “escorted” by a large contingent of Portland’s finest, on bike, motorcycle and car. This ride was less “exciting” than the previous month’s, as most riders stopped at red lights and kept the confrontations to a minimum, with only 3 arrests and 50 citations.

For those interested in participating rides are the last Friday of the month at 5:30 p.m. under the west end of the Burnside bridge.

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