Critical Mass in Seattle

This entry is about Critical Mass in Seattle. For the background story, please read Emotions Still Running High After Critical Mass Confrontation, the online version of an article in the Seattle Times, as well as the entry on Wikipedia.

As a bicyclist, I am torn between the pros and cons of Critical Mass, myself. Although the debate will never end, my experience has told me that for one reason or another, Seattle (this does not include Bellevue or Redmond on the east side) has developed a culture that is considerably friendly to bicyclists. As long as I obey the rules of the road, I have found drivers on the whole to be quite courteous within Seattle city limits, generally giving me more than enough space to maneuver. This stands in stark contrast to my experience living in Cleveland, Ohio, however, where irate motorists leaned out their windows to yell at me to “Get off the road!” at least once a day while I commuted to work. Why is this? Is Critical Mass one of the factors that raised awareness of cyclists on the road in Seattle? Or is Critical Mass made possible by the strength of numbers that cyclists have here? I suspect that it may be a bit of both.