CHAPEL HILL — Most people travel by train, plane or automobile. In Chapel Hill Friday, bicycles are the mode of choice. It is also the mode of controversy the last Friday of every month during the Critical Mass bike ride.
That is when the Critical Mass group pedals as a pack slowly up Franklin Street. Their protest is supposed to highlight the dependency on cars and bring attention to bikers' rights.
The group is about 30 members strong; some carry signs, all have a message. They say we rely too much on cars and ignore the rights of cyclists too often.
James Coley, a spokesperson for the group, believes in the cause.
"People shouldn't think of us as trespassers who are blocking traffic. We are traffic," states Coley. "With the population boom that's hitting the Triangle, there is no alternative to alternative transportation."
Motorists do not like the impact of the message the cyclists are driving home. Drivers stuck in traffic jams caused by the protesters have complained to police.
Police were on hand Friday to keep the two groups apart. They say their main concern is not the case of critical mass, just keeping the peace.