Time to be a feral unemployed bike-activist asshole (according to one posting in that bastion of petrol-headed free speech, ). After several years of reading the Critical Mass mailing lists, but not going to any of their rides, I decided to head into the city for the 7th birthday ride. The last times I was there, years ago, I became quite disillusioned that there were a small number of people who were pro-bike, a large number of people who were anti-car, and a medium sized number of people who were just anti-everything. My feelings for CM just keep on oscillating about. Some cyclists hate it, BV seem to hate it, on the other hand, conditions for cyclists are basically what scraps are thrown to them, and are frequently inappropriate. Civil Disobedience may at least raise the point that some people aren’t happy…

5.30 pm meeting time at the State Library, the 6 pm start time came and went, the whole assemblage resembling a mighty herd of cats — and about as easy to control. There were normal bikes, decorated bikes, and some highly customised one-off examples of the frame-builders art and fevered imagination… Sometime around 6:15 pm we headed off, tearing through the city streets at around 7km/hr. Much fun and laughter, no obvious aggression from any motorists, and many smiles and waves from motorists at some of the incredibly decorated bikes. One of the most impressive was a four-person vehicle of two riders and two drummers — the latter riding in a chariot-like contraption behind the riders, and protected by a large canopy.

After an hour of riding that included circling around through the city, splitting the group in two over two different routes, heading down St Kilda road and through parts of South Melbourne, I ended up missing the ride over the Bolte Bridge. I was starting to feel that the group had lost its way and wasn’t going to get there, and I had other appointments for later in the evening, so at Flinders street I departed, heading home at a more normal speed. Amusingly enough, as I cycled down Bridge road, all three intersections with “forward bicycle boxes” were unusable due to the motorists parking in them. So much for BV’s “pot ‘o paint” approach to bicycle facilities.

Apparently the ride did go over the Bolte bridge, if I’d only stayed with them for another half-hour or so.

Later in the evening was a catch-up drinks and dinner with friends I hadn’t seen for ages — about 18 months in a couple of cases. A late arrival and too much standing around talking and drinking beer meant that we missed the kitchen closing in the restaurant and Jo and I ended up with growling stomachs and a late supper when we got home around midnight.