Saturday, May 30, 2009
Critical Mass - Chicago
I spent a couple of days in Chicago this week, doing research on my next book. In the Big City, visitors should expect the unexpected. That was the case Friday evening, when I was walking to Union Station.
Without warning or fanfare, thousands of bicyclists filled the street (Jackson Boulevard). Filling every lane of traffic and stretching for at least a dozen blocks (probably more), the bicyclists were taking part in Critical Mass-Chicago.
I hadn't heard of Critical Mass before last night, but I learned that in Chicago it is a monthly event. No political agenda. No cause. No fundraising. It's just a celebration of bicycling. In some communities, only dozens or a hundred ride; in Chicago, well, thousands ride.
It was interesting, of course, but after several minutes of waiting to cross the street -- these bicyclists didn't observe the stoplights, apparently with police permission -- I started to worry that I might miss my train. (I didn't.) Several motorists, apparently, had somewhere else to be -- as evidenced by uninterrupted blowing of their horns (as if the riders would respond by stopping and letting the cars across).