We ride the last Friday of every month all year round. Meet at confederation park (elgin and laurier) at 5:30, ride leaves at 6pm!

This is a team blog. To join the team (and get access to post and/or administer the site), email criticalmassottawa@gmail.com

Friday, December 02, 2005

Who Should Cork?

Recently I have noticed some comments about corking that I think, as a community, we should discuss. So here are my two cents, and I hope others will respond so we can reach some consensus before future rides.

The issue is, who should cork? Some people think it's safer if the experienced couriers take on this role, but I've been to many masses before where the idea is that everyone does it.

I think it's much LESS safe to only rely on only a few people because (1) having people ride from the front to the back at high speeds, at every intersection, is not safe - maybe it works in a pedestrian march but not for a bike ride, and (2) in terms of watching out for cars that could threaten the ride, more eyes are better. It's not as if we don't all do that everyday when we bike!

And frankly, cars are way less likely to get pissed and ram bikes if their corker is calm and smily, be they couriers or anyone else. If it appears that a certain group of people are corralling the whole ride, that gives the police and angry cars a focal point for their anger. If the corkers are always different, emerging from within the ride as necessary - how can they stop or get angry at that? It is more organic, more sustainable and stronger.

I'm not trying to bash couriers here, nor to promote a single image of them. I'm just saying that if the reason that we want couriers to cork is because we imagine that they fit into this certain stereotype (which they do not), and that stereotype is somehow better or safer to be doing ALL the corking at the ride, well I think that's wrong. But also let me say that those who did cork at the ride in November were generally very good and helpful so I'm not trying to aim any of these remarks at any individuals in particular.

This is not an issue of couriers vs. everyone else, it's an issue of people taking responsibility for the critical mass, and I believe it comes to the heart the ride's entire message - that it is not run by any one person or elite group of people, but owned by everyone. Everyone corking means we are all taking responsibility for the safety of the ride, and it is not complicated or difficult, anyone can learn how to cork just by watching. There may be some that choose not to do it regularly, but I think that, for safety, everyone should at least know how.

I welcome others to respond!



Anonymous Pamela said...

I totally agree, Naomi. And not to harp on my earlier post, but I think that in light of all the gender issues, it would be ESPECIALLY awesome / useful in light of those discussions to have some even more girl blocking participation in the future!

10:01 PM

Anonymous Evan said...

Uhhh- I agree yhere were some issues that came up at the first critical mass.

There were sexist remarks made
And there was also some people who took on some more de facto leadership roles.

I think that this is primarily the way which it was organized-
I deally we do exactly what occured organically at the action-
ie.- stooping at interections and people asking the larger group for which direction the mass will take-
it was pretty amazing-
we should have more street level consensu based decision making.
or "Spokes councils-"

We should also make some efforts to have regular meetings- and encourage others to start up their own affinity groups and bike collectives.So people may be more empowered during actions.

As well- I think its very important to attach some of our work with the folxs that are working to fight the Raise in transpo fees- and not just do the same old Crtical Mass- though its iimportant too.

essentailly- what critical mass and UP collective actions on Trasnpo issues have in common- is acces to public space, as well as challenging the car domiance on the prublic sphere-challengin the industry that is leading to the prvitization of another public instituion- such as public trasnportation.

We need to resolve our problems, yet stick together to fight the real enemy-

we did a great job- lets keep the momentum going

4:02 PM

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