It’s a sad moment for Bike Party when the reflections for two consecutive months must acknowledge an overwhelmingly negative response to the ride, but at the same time, we as a community have a few things to acknowledge ourselves. In this case, if we are to continue our vitality as a positive force, we must accept our responsibility both individually and collectively to the communities we roll through and to the ride itself.
As is evident from comments posted here and elsewhere, the majority of riders support Bike Party’s goals of community building and riding both safely and legally, but this voice is lacking in recent months on the ride itself. It’s one thing to post disdain for unsafe riding, or to to even suggest ways to clean up the smaller but highly visible “dark” elements of the ride. But without follow through on the ride itself, these sentiments don’t prove much.
As riders, as lovers of Bike Party, as individuals devoted to our community, we need to take more action during the actual ride. This is not to discount the brave efforts of volunteers and BIRDS along the route. August’s turnout of our beloved volunteers was much greater than both June and July combined, but it’s clearly not enough.
It’s held by most that dangerous behavior is perpetrated by a few, perhaps less than 10% of riders. Why, then, does this sliver of our mass dominate how the public – and even riders - views us? Shouldn’t the remaining 90% be enough to keep dangerous behavior to a minimum? If everyone who ever posted a thought or had an idea volunteered their efforts on a third Friday, the response to our venture will look a lot different.
This isn’t to say that there weren’t great moments along this ride. The most obvious was the downtown start, once again proving that central San Jose has embraced bicycles as a fun, practical means to get around and enjoy life. The size of the ride is also reflective of how things are growing and what potential change lies ahead in the South Bay. 4,000 riders gathered at City Hall to enjoy a performance by San Jose Taiko before embarking our 30 mile adventure. But where we shined we also faltered, struggling at times to share the road as well as getting massively off-track at multiple points. And as many are aware, dangerous riding this month lead to at least one serious injury, something I’m sure no Bike Partier would care to see repeated.
There’s a lot of work ahead of us. If everyone could find the time to lend a hand, we could take this thing further than the original 25 riders in Oct. 2007 ever imagined. As we approach our three year anniversary in two months, we need all the volunteers we can get. Attend a meeting, hook up with us on a test ride, and Get Involved!