As one of a hand-full of senior cruisers from the Boulder area, it’s been about 6 or 7 years since I last wrote a letter to the Daily Camera about the Thursday Cruiser Ride. At that time, I wrote to inform the public about the fundamental difference between the Critical Mass ride, and the Thursday Cruiser Ride. The primary difference being: Critical Mass is an organized protest characterized by adversarial techniques used toward a political goal, and the Thursday Cruiser Ride is an informal social bicycle ride with the sole agenda of having fun.
Since then, the Ride, as we knew it, has gone through many challenges and changes. As the numbers began to grow, the Boulder Police initially cracked down on issues such as open containers of alcohol, and traffic safety violations. The understandably wanted to know, “Who is your leader?”, but the truth is, there was no leader. They wanted to hold someone responsible for the actions of the group. So it didn’t take long for the “elders” of the ride to recognize the importance of the Ride policing itself. And as we publicly advocated for cruisers to follow traffic laws and share the road, the need for police presence was minimized over time.
We eventually reached a point, however, when we discovered that despite our efforts to educate all Thursday Night Cruisers, we simply could not manage the shear number of riders showing up to ride every week. Specifically, we noticed a great deal of underage riders, with no bike lights, many of whom were very inebriated. A couple years ago we tried staging the “end” of the Thursday Cruiser Ride. But they knew we were still cruising every Thursday, and we knew nobody could stop kids from riding their bikes on a Thursday. So we took “our” ride underground and subsequently, they have found a way to still meet up every week and ride. Even more recently, “we” have splintered into several groups with different starting and stopping points, all still riding on Thursday night, and all represented by several “old school” cruisers.
My point is this: The Thursday Cruiser Ride has evolved into Boulder cruiser night. As the phenomenon of social bicycle rides has spread across the country and the world, there does not exist any single entity that can shoulder the responsibility every time a person riding a bicycle on Thursday night in Boulder, CO happens to misbehave. So, after any unfortunate incidents involving bikers on Thursday night (such as the young woman who was recently sexually harassed), instead jumping to reactionary generalizations (such as blaming “The Thursday Cruiser Ride” or wanting to “shut down” the ride) I encourage the public and the Police to hold individuals responsible. Because riding your bike in Boulder on Thursday night is not a crime.