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The Boston Globe

Magazine

Perspective

Rides not revenge

Why Boston’s Critical Mass is hurting the cycling cause.

It’s a Friday evening in late July, and hundreds of whooping and hollering bicyclists are clogging the street at Commonwealth and Harvard avenues in Allston. This is one of the trickiest intersections in the city – some eight lanes of road pass through it, as well as two sets of Green Line tracks – and cyclists from a group called Boston Critical Mass are jamming it up by riding in circles, taunting the drivers. Car horns blast. A solitary biker held up by the stunt yells, “You are why people hate cyclists!” A Honda Civic revs forward, forcing several cyclists to bail, and races off. Mangled bikes – and one person – lie on the asphalt.

Once a month, members of the hundreds-strong Critical Mass get together to celebrate bike culture and protest car culture, as the group says on its website, by means of a “party on two wheels.” But that day the party ended abruptly – luckily the woman knocked to the ground had just bumps and bruises; the only serious casualties were bikes. I am obviously appalled at the actions of the driver, but my other reaction is bafflement: What does Critical Mass hope to prove by breaking laws and taunting motorists?

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