Friday, August 28, 2009

Critical Mass goes to SAFECO Field

Critical Mass went by SAFECO Field tonight, not long before the Mariners game started. I was standing near the corner of Royal Brougham Way and 1st Ave S., waiting for my wife to drop off my kids so I could bring them to the ballyard. My cell phone rang; she was on Aurora driving past Queen Anne, and traffic by the stadiums was good. It looked like she would get there in about 5 minutes. And then I saw Critical Mass coming.

I've seen
Critical Mass once before, in fact I even rode with them for a couple blocks downtown this Spring. I came up from the University Street tunnel with my bike, all decked out in my usual dayglo commuter gear, and there they were, streaming past. Several among them asked me to join them. Of course they didn't make room so that I could actually do so, but it was nice of them to ask. Once nearly all of them (and there were about 100) were past, I mounted up and caught them -- they hadn't been riding fast. I don't suppose they normally do. It felt kind of like a rolling party, though they were riding together in a rather disciplined proximity. Then they turned left towards the Market and I continued straight up 3rd Ave, and that was that.

Today, there were about twice as many of them. Nearly half were wearing helmets. I only noticed a few of the bikes before one of the bicyclists cheered at me; I was wearing a baseball cap that one of them thought looked like it came from Roosevelt High (it didn't, but I can see how they might have gotten confused) and she yelled 'Go Roughriders!". Heh. They seem like a nice enough bunch of kids. I was sort of grinning goofily at them the while.

But of course that light at Royal Brougham Way is closely controlled by traffic cops on game days. And of course there were a whole bunch of slow-moving cars. The bikes all streamed between the lanes amidst them. A few cars crossed the light with the bikes, which I don't expect is usual for a Critical Mass ride. But then again there were cops everywhere. No one was particularly misbehaving, unless you consider bikes riding between lanes to be misbehaving, which I guess it is. Then halfway through the crowd of bikes, the light changed, splitting the Critical Mass riders. Normally I think they would "cork" the intersection and proceed through on the red light to stay together, but of course they were surrounded by cops here so they didn't. A sensible move for all, if you ask me.

A police car with lights flashing trailed the main body of cyclists. Then a couple black SWAT SUVs came by, filled with cops in monotone black uniforms. Dunno if they were following Critical Mass, too, or if they just happened to be in the same place at the same time, much as I'd been this Spring.

Meanwhile, traffic had snarled significantly in the immediate neighborhood. I think my wife ended up taking 12 minutes to drop off the kids when it should've taken 5. Big deal, I know, except that the delay meant we didn't get inside the ballpark in time to pick up the freebie DVDs the Mariners were giving away that day ("Mariners Commercials, Volume 2"), which is the reason my kids had wanted to see this game in the first place. Bummer for us.

Anybody have extras that they'd like to trade us for extra "Mariners Commercials, Volume 1" DVDs that we picked up at a previous game a couple months ago?

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