Letters

Unfortunately, the altercation that Boland referred to was presented completely out of context, even though he surely must have known what really happened: I was walking down a hill, listening to music through my headphones, when suddenly, without any warning, I was assaulted from behind by a person who viciously grabbed at my neck and backpack strap. Upon having twisted to deflect the attack, I saw the assailant bump against a wall, a few inches away, as a consequence of her own momentum. The subsequent courtroom histrionics, though, during which I was inadequately represented by a court-appointed attorney, provided me with valuable insights into the peculiarities of our so-called system of justice, according to which money (or the lack of it) plays a rather significant role.

This unfavorably biased piece about me, by SF Weekly, appears to be my "reward" for having evoked a rather drastic reversal of an earlier position, by the mayor, that he enunciated immediately after our widely publicized encounter at his office. Yet the ill-chosen headline, "Spokesman Without a Cause," is contradicted even by Boland's very selective choice of information, according to which there can still be no doubt that I have advocated important bike-related causes over the years. Since Mayor Brown's initial, derogatory comments about Critical Mass events during a press conference were prompted primarily by the success of the well-attended Bicycle Celebration Day ride to Sausalito just four days earlier, on June 27 -- a ride which I had organized and promoted almost exclusively, as Boland correctly pointed out -- I felt strongly obliged to respond in a public way and defend the bike ride, especially after nobody else within the semiorganized bike community had bothered to do so. Presenting a televised defense of Critical Mass rides, however, does not necessarily also make me a "spokesman" for these events, as had been suggested.

It should be pointed out that, back in March of this year, I had received explicit assurances by one of the mayor's assistants that Willie Brown would be signing an official proclamation, in recognition of Bicycle Celebration Day and, by extension, the associated Fourth Annual Critical Mass Summer Ride to Sausalito. Thus, had Mayor Brown followed through with his alleged promise of support, he would certainly not have later been in a position to attack this event in the manner that he did. His failure to endorse it can be fairly attributed to a few self-destructive people within the bike scene (some of whom Boland apparently spoke with at great length), who, for purely petty or personal reasons, obsessively dissuaded officials at City Hall from supporting the event, as had been planned.

Although one of my goals has been to help transform Critical Mass rides into much larger and more popular events than they used to be -- an endeavor I believe I've been successful at -- it is absolutely untrue, contrary to what Boland claims, that I have engaged in efforts to make them more confrontational. Indeed, one of the aims of these rides, in my mind, is to impart a highly visible sense of purpose, unity, and fun among cyclists. Regarding Boland's comments, stating some may argue that certain proposals I've presented are not feasible (he gave only one example), I regard these objections to be displays of self-defeatism and continue to believe that there is certainly no reason that developing Jefferson Street, at Fisherman's Wharf, into a pedestrian zone with a bike path, and possibly even an extended rail car line, ought to be considered "unrealistic." Moreover, such an urban redesign scheme, while benefiting cyclists, would also be a great revenue-generating enhancement to the city's tourist industry.

C.J. Lackner
Russian Hill

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