Welcome to a new website about Critical Mass in San Francisco. We’ve been around since the beginning and after some early years of publishing Critical Mass Missives and many other flyers, posters, and stickers, we are back to open this online space. Here you will find a place to discuss what’s happening in Critical Mass, as well as an historical archive and a quick informational site where well-known tactics are easily accessible (and well-known problems have helpful answers). We’d like to host a forum to communicate about Critical Mass as well as the larger dynamics of bicycling in San Francisco
It’s a bit ironic in the home of the dotcom boom a decade ago, and at the epicenter of the Critical Mass bicycling phenomenon, no one has put together a decent website for our town. We decided it was overdue. One reason is because the culture of Critical Mass hasn’t been well transmitted from old-timers to newbies, and we hope to remedy that a bit here. Critical Mass started about 17 years ago, and it’s wonderful and mysterious that it has been such an ongoing event, never missing a month all these years. And of course it has spread to over 400 cities around the world.
Since the conflicts with the City and police in 1997, a tacit truce has dominated the formerly fractious relationship. In the past decade no one has taken a lot of responsibility for orchestrating routes, producing flyers or stickers, or being super involved in corking or leading the ride. Instead, a remarkable spontaneity that has often benefitted from serendipity and good luck, has kept the ride mostly fun and interesting. Nevertheless, a noticeable repetition in the past two years has become a bit tedious.
Do we really need to ride through the Broadway and/or Stockton tunnels EVERY month? Are there really still bicyclists showing up who think it’s cool, or radical, or important, to block oncoming traffic on the opposite side of two way streets? And how boring is it to “circle up” in intersections, pointlessly blocking traffic in every direction? Why is there so little xerocracy now? Essays, arguments, news, etc. have long been absent from the ride… politics? What politics?
We have some simple “Critical Mass Do’s and Don’t's” that we think are helpful lessons learned from many years of doing this. And we will be hosting a moderated discussion on our blog, where everything is welcome, but we will reserve the right to delete extraneous and hateful material. (If you don’t like our edits, please exercise your 1st amendment right to start your own damn blog.)
We’re committed to a flourishing of intelligent debate and dialogue, and a public process of advancing whatever “success” we can claim for the Critical Mass phenomenon to other, deeper issues too.
–Chris Carlsson and Hugh D’Andrade, August, 2009