what is "Critical Mass"?

What is Critical Mass?

Critical Mass is a worldwide movement to promote the use of bicycles as a viable means of transportation. It has arisen in response to what many call the “car-culture:” an overdependence on the private automobile. It is, more than anything else, a reclaimation of space, a demonstration to show that the city belongs to people and not machines.
How did it get started? It started in August 1992 in San Francisco when a group of bicycle commuters decided to ride home together.

Why is it called “Critical Mass?”

The name “Critical Mass” comes from Ted White’s bike-umentary Return of the Scorcher. This video shows intersection crossing etiquette in China’s big cities. Cross bike-traffic waits until it has enough riders, i.e., a critical mass, to push its way through the intersection. The strength of the Mass is in its close-knit unity as an organic body. It is sometimes necessary to ride through traffic lights in order to maintain this unity. It is actually safer. Otherwise, car traffic is tempted to weave in and out among small groups of riders.
http://www.critical-mass.org/

A rally was held on Nov.2 in Eureka California in solidarity with other rallies nationwide in opposition to the Bush regime. Critical Mass bicycle riders left Arcata to ride to Eureka on the highway (7miles) and found the California Highway Patrol waiting for them.
The CHP stopped all traffic on the highway (critical mass left one lane open on the 2 lane in each direction divided highway) and attacked bicyclists, injuring and arresting several.
A police helicopter circled overhead for the duration of the ride.

Indybay.org http://www.indybay.org/news/2005/11/1780250.php

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3 Responses to “what is "Critical Mass"?”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    I certainly sympathize with their intent to “promote the use of bicycles as a viable means of transportation”, but I think they’re going about it the wrong way.

    All they’re accomplishing is the angering of motorists and the creation of enemies. Critical massers make many motorists indiscriminately hostile to all bicyclists, and such motorists might then harass lone bicyclists and endanger their lives — all because of the adolescent, confrontational tactics of the critical massers.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I don’t agree with the above anonymous poster. I have done critical mass bike rides in New York, San Francisco, & Humboldt County, & I’ve also rode my bike in the same places without being in a critical mass… & I’ve actually experienced more hostility in the latter situation well before there was ever such a thing as critical mass. It’s like asking why there are queer centers & not straight centers for people to go to. There are not many “bike-friendly” places in this country. And even when there are –such as in Portland– there is still rage directed toward even the most polite of bicyclists trying to share the road.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    “I’ve also rode my bike in the same places without being in a critical mass… & I’ve actually experienced more hostility in the latter situation well before there was ever such a thing as critical mass.”

    So you’re actually saying that critical mass has lessened the hostility of drivers towards bicyclists!

    How could that be? Do all drivers like being obstructed by bicyclists?

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