Sunday, September 30, 2012

Getting Critical For 20 Years

The ride that started it all was 20 years ago this month!  No matter what you think about Critical Mass, if you ride a bicycle in any city that has a bicycle lane or a sharrow or bicycle racks to park on you owe that first ride, and every one since, for making sure that the rights of bicyclists all over the world are kept in the public eye.  Critical Mass stopped us being invisible.  Critical Mass made those of us on the road a force to be reckoned with.  Critical Mass kept the conversation going at a time when it was being silenced.


The media and those who just can not, or will not, see beyond their dashboards will never see anything more than the controversy. They will only ever see a 10 minute disruption of their drive as the worst thing to happen in their lives (and if it is, how lucky they are!).  They will never see the people in front of them.

Into The Breach

According to some, Critical Mass is only a bunch of hooligans out to cause mayhem and ruin it for everyone,

Mass For All

Dogs Like Mass, Too

that only the "able bodied" and "young" and "athletic" can particiapte,


Little Mass

only young men out to destroy are there,

Teaching The Future

it sets a bad example for the kids who see the mayhem.


And yet, it has become a world wide movement, in spite of its "hooligan" tendencies.

Sabertooth Asian & Sailor Boy


That Ain't Jared

Powell St Blur

So while Critical Mass looks different to different people, it is, whether it means to be or not, the public and in your face fight for the future of little kids with stuffed penguins on their helmets. Isn't that what all protests strive to be about?

We Ride For His Future

Happy 20th, Critical Mass!  No offense, but I hope we don't need you in another 20.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

putting the 20th anniversary of critical mass to the bikey bechdel test

to follow up our conversation from last week where i talked about the bikey bechdel test, i thought i'd put the 20th anniversary of critical mass to the test. crtical mass turns 20 tomorrow, which is the last friday of september 2012.

there are several ways to put CM to the bikey bechdel test. their promotion has been on FB, on local radio stations, local weeklies, art posters for sale, and a popup store on valencia street. let's take a look and see how CM fares with the bikey bechdel test.

to refresh your memory, here are the rules that will be applied:

1. Are women present or represented at all?
2. Are the women presented as active subjects rather than passive objects?
3. If the gender were reversed, would the meaning stay more or less unchanged? (Or would the image become hilarious?)

FB page:
their logo is of a person wearing a skirt with pigtails holding a bike upside down.

1. yes. we can assume this is a woman, albeit a silhouette. there is no one else in the image.
2. active: i would say holding a bike is a pretty active thing to be doing.
3. i thought about this silhouette being a man (wearing a dress and pigtails) and didn't think the meaning would change at all.

the FB icon passes.

much of the rest of their FB talks about various articles. the SFCM persona is most likely a lot of people, females included, but things being shared are not women's voices.
local radio station interview on KQED.
1. no. the people talking about critical mass on the radio were all men.
2. there were no women representing CM on the interview. there were 4 men. a few emails written by women, and a few female callers.
3. if the gender was reversed, the meaning would change because it means women have a say.

the radio station interview fails.

local weeklies (in this case sf bay guardian)
1. yes. the first (and only) woman to say anything of substance is buried on page three. the other woman is the "girlfriend" of someone.
2. yes and no. lisaruth is an active participant, having co-edit a book called shift happens and talked about various critical mass rides around the world. she is the only female voice talking about the event and belonging to a community. there are only two women mentioned in this article and many more men mentioned. i would say the girlfriend mention alone (after all, her boyfriend was not called "boyfriend of marie"), makes her representation, unfortunately, passive.
3. if gender was reversed, would be no women represented, so the meaning would be CHANGED.

the local weekly mention fails due to gender disparity represented in the article.
art posters for sale
there are three posters for sale to help out CM. let's take a look.
mona caron's 20th anniversary poster

1. yes, women are an angel. bonus points for the genderless child in the front.
2. unclear. the woman is engaging the viewer by staring directly out to catch the gaze. however, she's twisting her body in a pose that is slightly suggestive towards being more sexual in nature. she's not on her bike but rather holding it by the handlebars. she also has wings, so might not need a bike?
3. i believe if the gender was reversed the image would look ridiculous.

hard to say if this passes the bikey bechdel test or not. on one hand, this is created by a woman, but the woman/angel represented is sort of sexually suggestive. i'm inclined to say this image does NOT pass.
hugh d'andrade's 20th anniversary poster
1. yes, there are women silhouettes present.
2. they are being active participants riding their silhouetted bikes.
3. unclear. both genders are represented pretty equally. well, 3 men, 2 women, and a child. if the gender was reversed on the mother, in particular, it would be changed for the "awesomer", because that would be a father riding his child around on a bike.

hugh d'andrade's poster PASSES.
Jim Swanson 20th anniversary poster
1. yes, there are women represented.
2. they are being active participants riding their bikes.
3. no, the meaning would be unchanged. these are just regular people riding their bikes. the genders seem to be evenly represented.

jim swanson's poster PASSES.

so there you go! seems like after 20 years, there's still some gender stuff to figure out. but i do like that lisaruth and mona are well-represented. just need more females doing things for CM for it to pass the bikey bechdel test.

thanks, and see you at the 20th anniversary on friday! mixed feelings about the ride myself, but i do have mad respect for them and all they do.

Arthursday: tunnels

/link+art credit: work by Tatsuro Kiuchi via it's nice that.
Tunnels would be a big prominent birthmark if Critical was a human body. With the exception of the Geary and Park Presidio ones, tunnels are a frequent and quintessential experience whilst participating in a San Francisco critical mass ride.

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary and here is more info, links and good stuff including purchasing/download of BEAUTIFUL poster done by rad local artists: SF Critical Mass

I've expanded the usual short+sweet Arthursday a bit, including a few San Francisco tunnel shots as well as one from Los Angeles by our 4th amiga in Los Angeles: Caryl (first photo below) +the rest them are from the 3 of us here in SF :)

Los Angeles
Los Angeles by -Caryl
Tunnel vision
polo fields in golden gate park by meligrosa
Ade+calitexican+i: tunnel trolls 3+ years ago:
Tunnel Vision
Tunnel Vision by Adrienne Johnson SF
-- and this from that:
three tunnel trolls
three tunnel trolls by meligrosa
three tunnel trolls
calitexican's previous yellow mixte! aw.
stockton tunnel
stockton tunnel by meligrosa
critical boys 2009 by meligrosa
Tunnel vision
golden gate park, late 2009 by meligrosa
Badass bullet belt
Badass bullet belt by calitexican
Stockton tunnel
At dusk. SF critical mass. September 2009. - Stockton tunnel by calitexican
Guess who's back

- - - -
Tunnels are like blogs, they connect people from one side of their screen onto the other – with people in a different place with a similar perspectives -- xxom

Monday, September 24, 2012

Time To Get Fixing!

I have a long standing relationship with San Francisco Municipal Railways, Muni.  I have been a rider of Muni buses my whole life.  Everyone in San Francisco likes to complain about our bus system, but the fact is Muni makes it possible to get anywhere in SF without a car.  Now that the buses have bicycle racks on them, getting around on public transportation is easier than ever.  However, there are issues.

Two years ago I had to call the Muni complaint line several times a week because bus drivers along my route refused to change lanes to pass anyone on a bicycle .  Several times I was pushed into parked cars because Muni drivers would not give me room when they passed.  Many times they tailed me too closely and honked for me to get out of their way (on a two lane road) or cut me off after passing unsafely at bus stops.  After about the 12th complaint I noticed that this was no longer a problem and that someone had decided to do some training.  Not one driver on that line has since been a problem in the last two years.  When a second bus line was added to our street I had to start the complaints again because no one had taught the new bus line drivers that being aggressive with 70 ton buses against human beings on bicycles was unprofessional.  That has changed and I now find all of the Muni drivers to be very courteous and considerate.  I never have any problems with them anymore (thanks Muni!!)

So here is my new battle.  Can you see the problem(s)?

Not A Stop

This is an outbound 43 Masonic and this is the sorry excuse for a bus stop that you can find at Judson and Gennessee.  During school hours, (school meaning CCSF, the largest learning institution in the United States, and Riordan High School) every single 43 driver stops here, blocking all lanes of traffic and forcing dozens of bus passengers at a time to exit into an active bike lane.  As you can see. there are usually cars involved, too.  There are times I have been stuck here, swarmed by people for as long as 3 minutes at a time.  It is a very, very busy drop off.  Absolutely no attempt has been made to make this a safe stop for anyone and there is always tension as a result.  Other than a strip of paint, there is no formal bus stop here.

This happens at the even busier 43 stop on the inbound route on Phelan Blvd. at the college's main entrance.  At that stop I am frequently passed by 43 drivers who cross a double yellow line into moving traffic to allow enough room to make a sharp right turn cutting off the lane of car traffic, and the bike lane without actually stopping near the bus shelter.  This forces me to make emergency stops to prevent being hit by the tail of the bus while I am simultaneously swarmed by passengers walking out into the street and bike lane to meet the bus (many times the back end of the bus is still partially blocking the traffic in the opposite direction!)

I have called to complain about this, but I have seen no change.  So now I am calling Muni out publicly.  Muni drivers are professional drivers with special licenses and they know better. Muni needs to do something about this.  Now!  The area around CCSF is extremely busy and is a primary bicycle corridor.  Drivers need to drive like professionals who care about the people around them and Muni and the City need to ensure that every bus stop in this corridor is planned for the safety of all.  Get on it, people!

Addendum- and here is the same stop back in April, at the tale end of about 40 people getting off the bus.

Off To School

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

bikey bechdel test

last week was the first ever national women's bicycling summit. it took place close enough for me to consider attending, but between my two jobs, was just kind of hard to make that commitment. so i sort of sat back and waited for what the blogosphere would report back.

wellwellwell. i'm liking what i'm seeing so far. in particular the feminist spin on the representation of women in bikey things ranging from advocacy, racing, policy and advertising.

i went to an all female undergraduate college, and nearly every class had a powerful female lens to it. we became well versed in the concept of the male gaze and, outside of class, we were well versed in other strong female voices ranging from comics, to music. both are variations of art forms dominated by a male presence. sort of like all things bikey. this is why the phenomenon of female bike bloggers is so important to me, and to all of us associated with the blog. they show a diversity of interests ranging from not just fashion, but to photography, interests in bicycle geometry and road racing, among many others.

so what i'm getting to is one of the things to come out of the NWBS is the bikey bechdel test. are you kidding me? that's amazing!! here's a video summarizing the bechdel test for those who are not familiar with the concept. this is covering the 2011 oscars, and demonstrates why most movies are not worth my time lately.

now comes elly blue's post called "is this thing sexist? introducing the 'bike test'" (hint, if you have to ask, it probably is sexist. jussayin'). here is elly blue's the bike test:

The Bike Test:
Here are the criteria:

1. Are women present or represented at all?
2. Are the women presented as active subjects rather than passive objects?
3. If the gender were reversed, would the meaning stay more or less unchanged? (Or would the image become hilarious?)

keep in mind this framework for this test was introduced in 1985. that's almost 30 years ago.

let's apply this to a picture that came out from the interbike industry show.

yesterday this picture came out from the interbike FB page introducing some sort of who knows what. but it's got a blonde in a bikini! behind a cage! in vegas! was captioned with "Dunk tank at the wtb booth at OutDoor Demo!"

test application:
1. yes
2. passive.
3. meaning would become ironic and probably "hilarious" if the man was in a bikini. but to be fair, both genders definitely have had their share sitting on at a dunk table.

30 years everyone. THIRTY.

there's some talk of the real-life "mcdreamy" (ahem...we wont discuss that nickname here, because i don't really have a favorable view on it), who is pretty interested in seeing women becoming serious racing competitors. while that's great that he feels that way, i can't help but think that with women's growing buying power, that we can do this this for OURSELVES. or in conjunction with a gender balanced bikey think tank with funds.

h/t to jenny and richard.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Arthursday: the Dandy

"Britain’s longest running children’s comic, The Dandy, is facing closure after 75 years. The comic’s circulation has toppled from 2M to just 8,000." 
-read more: The Dandy faces closure via LDL 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

CYLRAB meets Amsterdamize

in real life you guys!

i was busy volunteering for the long strange trip that was the september SF bike party. i also happen to help out with that twitter feed, so i saw that amsterdamize was going to burning man and then SFBP before he went back across the atlantic.

ade showed you the after picture in her last post, wherein the bat got tagged.

these are the before pictures...



haha. VERY ade expression there.

then there was this foto wherein you can see that the tag already happened...foto taken from amsterdamize's instagram.

i love that picture for so many reasons...

paz y amor y'all!

Sunday, September 9, 2012


According to Marc, my bicycle is now truly Dutch.

While KT and I shared a bottle of sparkling wine at Etcetera, someone decided my basket needed to be tagged.  It is only White Out, so I can take it off but now that Ian has decided it stands for "sexy, young bitch" I am tempted to leave it there.

What do you think?  Should I keep my graffiti or not?  What does "SYB" stand for?

Friday, September 7, 2012

friday fun times: i love you

i woke up freakishly early this morning. i saw my favorite bike rack bike hack and i also saw another bike with another note.

Morning bike hack rack

foto of bike rack bike hack was taken awhile ago, but bike was still there. not sure if it is abandoned or if it's a worker's bike.

I love you too.

aww, well, i love you too. what a nice note.

when things calm down with work, i'll talk about bike camping, i swear!

happy friday to you all. summer has arrived in SF! time to go outside before the rainy season starts.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Arthursday: Andrew Bird

New Andrew Bird Posters, found via OMGposters
Sold at the birdmachine.

*The Arthursday posts are a share of visual finds wanderlusting around town as well as the internet. None of these posts are sponsored and all that Etc.

Unfiltered eye sharing from me +cylrab, to you.
- - -

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Blister Butt Boys (redux)

By Mont Hubbard
Published in the Davis Enterprise, Feb. 26, 2010
San Francisco, early 1930s. In a time of much greater freedom and responsibility, a group of young teenagers called themselves the Blister Butt Bicycle Boys. My father-in-law Mal Taylor, 13, and his older brother Wally were founding members.
The bicycle was both emblematic of their independence and the key to it. They lived on their bicycles, the anvils on which the steel of their characters was forged.
The purpose of this column is to share some of the joy and excitement that youth in days gone by were afforded through their bikes. Modern equivalents must be happening in Davis today, and likely more can, but I just hope all of them are a bit safer.

Mal and Wally Taylor grew up in the Sunset district of San Francisco. Wally was born in 1920, and Mal the following year. Then as now, cycling in the city of San Francisco was considerably more challenging than in Davis. Hills, big hills, steep hills! How was a kid to get a heavy one-speed bike to adequately serve for transportation in such a situation?
Easy! With ingenuity, initiative and scavenged construction rebar, they carefully handcrafted a hook (see photo) and waited for an unsuspecting passing truck. (Kids, don’t try this at home!) The good news was that 75 years ago the trucks climbed very slowly up SF’s famously steep hills. The bad news was that they often accelerated going back down!

Mal Taylor and his brother Wally as young children, before they were known as the Blister Butt Bicycle Boys
Mal Taylor, top, and his brother Wally are pictured in the mid-1920s in San Francisco, hinting at the fun they would have as Blister Butt Bicycle Boys.

The self-fashioned hook was critical to quickly and effectively latching onto whatever part of the rear of the truck could be used for the tow, and then the hook ensured the essential quick release before the truck’s descent. Even with the “safety” features provided by the hook, Mal recounted one incident in which a rope dangling from the truck to which he had hitched became entangled in his bike’s front wheel, winding tighter and tighter. Fortunately, before the downhill slope it somehow unwound, freeing him before catastrophe could occur. The truck driver remained oblivious to the drama unfolding behind him in his blind spot.

Hook for snagging a truck to tow bikes up hills in San Francisco

Mal Taylor and his brother Wally used this hook fashioned from rebar to snag a truck that would tow their bike up the hills of San Francisco.

Not only did the bicycle provide freedom and transportation across the entire city, it enabled their escape into wonderful adventures beyond. At ages 13 and 14 they planned and executed the first of many long and complex bike treks. From their homes in the Sunset district they rode to the ferry, across the Golden Gate (during construction of the bridge), onto Highway 101 and thence to Camp Taylor (later to become Samuel P. Taylor State Park) for a five-day outing.
They had convinced their parents that the 6 cents a day it cost to support each of them at home should instead be devoted to financial support of their trip. That, together with their wages from odd jobs such as mowing lawns, helped to bankroll these expeditions.
The next summer the club decided on a 150-mile, five-day expedition to the Russian River. Having found homemade saddlebags too clumsy, they paid 63 cents (a substantial sum during the height of the Depression) to mail their packs to a nearby general store and made the trip to their camp in one day. This was one of many such trips: south to Big Basin, and by ferry to the East Bay hills and points north of the Golden Gate.
Little did they know that the independence, ingenuity and can-do spirit their bikes fostered would help them, a short decade later, to develop into the saviors of freedom of the Western world, as members of America’s Greatest Generation.
Although our 13-year-olds grow up in a completely different world today, they could still benefit from some of the unparalleled advantages that bicycles afforded the Blister Butt Bicycle Boys: physical and mental conditioning, initiative, self reliance, a bit more independence, and an unmatched sense of freedom and potential.
These are qualities that are not developed or enhanced by being driven to and fro in automobiles by parents. Bikes also provide a great introduction to mechanical devices — a vanishing area of knowledge for our youths in the age of video screens and electronic devices.
After hearing these stories, my wife Lyn, Mal’s daughter, feels extraordinarily lucky to have been born at all. But she observes that, even with modern improvements such as gears, helmets, lights and our excellent bike infrastructure, it’s reassuring not to have to use the truck hitching hooks in Davis.
— Mal Taylor (1921-2010) lived in Sunnyvale and enjoyed sharing the tales of his youth and biking with friends and family. Mont Hubbard is a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UC Davis and a member of Davis Bicycles! He does research on bicycle dynamics and control and lives with Lyn in South Davis where they have raised four children and are trying to increase their bicycle travel mode share. To offer a Davis Bicycles! column, write to Joe Krovoza at