Chron Story Confirms: Critical Mass Changes Lives

January 2nd, 2010 by hughillustration

Today’s Chronicle has a story about Adam Greenfield, a local filmmaker and blogger that decided to try a year of car-free living and who documented the whole thing on his blog.

My first reaction to the story was irritation. As my friend A.S. put it, “I’m sick of ‘my year of’ projects that get turned into blogs and then mediocre books.” It’s annoying to have one person singled out for doing what so many have decided to do with less fanfare.

But I appreciate that there a thousands (alright, dozens) of Chronicle readers in the Bay Area, and many may have never encountered anyone with a story like Adam’s. Those folks can always use a little education.

And I also loved this bit:

In 2004, Greenfield came to San Francisco to get his master’s degree and discovered Critical Mass. He had never imagined a peloton of like-minded political cyclists, reclaiming the city streets in a show of force.

“That first Critical Mass ride, I saw the bike as a vision of the future,” he said.

Critical Mass is constantly denounced by those who say it hurts the cause more than it helps by inspiring so much rage in the hearts of angry motorists. But this anecdote tends to confirm a point I have making for quite a while now to anyone who will listen: the anger Critical Mass creates is outweighed by the positive vision it inspires in the hearts of its many thousands of regular participants — a vision of how life could be better, and a demonstration of how many of us there are that want to make real change.

Critical Mass has already been successful in changing the world. We can see and feel those changes in our lives as cyclists, every day. The city streets are safer and more bike-friendly now than they were 18 years ago, and that’s no accident. Those of us who ride in Critical Mass can’t take full credit, but we know we’ve been a big part of the inspiration.

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