What is Critical Mass?

Critical Mass is a mass bicycle ride that takes place on the last Friday of each month in cities around the world. Everyone is invited! No one is in charge! Bring your bike!

Next San Francisco Critical Mass: May 31st, 2019, 5:30pm, at Justin Herman Plaza (foot of Market Street).

May 27, 2011: San Francisco’s Critical Mass

May 27th, 2011 by ccarlsson

Went out to Critical Mass tonight. Pretty mellow all things considered. I rode til about 8 pm when it was heading up the Wiggle towards the Haight. Before that we were joking that there must’ve been tourists in front tonight because A) they never stopped and B) they went straight up Market Street all the way to 8th Street where they finally turned left. Then it became apparent that whoever was in front was probably of the opinion that the ride is *supposed* to go to the most heavily trafficked streets, rather than continue to follow an improvisational and innovative route through local neighborhoods… sigh. Wish it had been more like that… Still, I had a perfectly nice ride. Here’s some shots from along the way.

We finally got a regrouping stop at Mission and Van Ness, but who thinks it's so fun to block a major intersection for five or eight minutes? Why?

There’s certain amount of hating directed at Critical Mass and a quick claim sometimes made is that we block emergency vehicles. But it’s quite the opposite actually–Critical Mass easily clears the way for fire trucks or ambulances in a fraction of the time it would take cars to move aside. As we rode north on Van Ness by City Hall an ambulance came up and we all melted to the right.

Passing City Hall on Van Ness, Critical Mass easily made way for an ambulance that came up with siren blaring.

Just as quickly the ride surges into the entire street northbound on Van Ness, the ambulance now three blocks ahead.

I can't remember when we did this exactly, but somewhere along the way we went easterly on Eddy...

Did anyone else notice there were a lot more older folks on the ride tonight? Being one myself, I did.

The inevitable pull through the Broadway Tunnel, this geezer exults on his way out...

Bryan Goebel, Streetsblog editor, at right, where the ride had an early stopping point in the Civic Center.

Hugh, the (not so) "secret master" of this blog and the FB page!

Thanks Hugh!



March 25th Ride — for Porto Alegre!

March 27th, 2011 by hughillustration

Update: There’s a map of Friday’s route at this blog: http://blog.friddz.de/index.php/2011/03/die-kritische-masse

The Critical Mass ride on Friday was a fun, pretty ordinary ride. But it came on the one month anniversary of a terrible event, which was the attack by a crazed motorist on the Critical Mass ride in Porto Alegre, Brazil last month.

A few of us decided to mark this sad day with some signs for our bikes. We wanted to spread the news about the attack, and also to express our solidarity with our friends in Brazil. We are so saddened by this unjustified attack, and we hope everyone recovers quickly. Here are some photos (they are small but you can click to enlarge):

The last news I have from that tragedy is the following: no one was killed, but 11 people were sent to the hospital with serious injuries. The motorist was caught and is being charged with attempted murder. He is a well-known banker, and has a history of anger management problems and traffic citations. Several witnesses dispute the attacker’s claim that he was provoked. (If you have additional facts or information, please share it in the comments.)

Please note: We have an editorial policy on this blog that we post any comment, so long as it is not insulting, threatening, or spam. Sadly, we had to violate this policy on last month’s posting, because we had so many downright stupid comments from pathetic, ignorant individuals who wrote in to express their sympathy with the attempted murderer. If you would like to post a comment to this effect, please go elsewhere. We don’t have time for you.

The ride itself was great. The weather was fine, the route was not too predictable, the group was small (maybe 350 to 400 people) and the front of the ride happily stopped for lights to let people regroup. Later in the evening, when the ride had dwindled to about 50 people, there was an accident in the Stockton tunnel. From the comments on our Facebook page:

Wells: Everything was great until I saw a guy crash and literally face planting hard in the middle of the Stockton tunnel. He wasn’t wearing a helmet either. Police got him an ambulance. A few other bikers including me stayed behind to help him out. But let this be a lesson; ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET! And be mindful of how fast you are going.

The rider’s name was Steve. If anyone has any information about how he is doing, I’d love it if you would post a comment.

A few more photos:

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Update: Motorist in Brazil CM Attack Turns Self In

February 28th, 2011 by hughillustration

Here is an English translation (from a human translator, not Babblefish) of a recent article from Brazil concerning the attack Friday night on the Porto Alegre Critical Mass:

Motorist who ran over cyclists in the Capital turns himself in to Civil Police
Ricardo Neis, 47, was escorted by four Special Forces police officers

Updated at 13:46

Ricardo Neis, 47, the Central Bank employee who ran over dozens of
ciclists in the Lower City on Friday, turned himself in to the Civil
Police around noon on Monday to offer a statement.

Neis arrived at the offices of the Transport Crimes Division
accompanied by two lawyers and escorted by four officers from
the Special Forces Battalion (BOE). In order to escape the
press, which was waiting in front of the building, he entered
through the parking (lot).

According to his lawyer Luís Fernando Coimbra Albino, Neis
will claim self-defense on behalf of himself and his 15-year-old
son. The motorist decided to appear in order to state that he
attacked the cyclists after feeling threated by alleged blows
to his black Golf.

On arriving at the police headquarters, the lawyer stated that,
finding himself surrounded by cyclists, Neis tried to “leave
along one side”, but had the windows of his car (containing his
son) broken:

“[Neis] tried to leave the area to protect his physical safety
and that of his son.”

Asked why the vehicle was abandoned, Albino said that his client
was afraid because he had been advised by a relative that he was
being chased by the demonstrators.

Background on the case:

At the start of the evening on Friday, around twelve cyclists were
run over as they went for a ride in the center of Porto Alegre.
Three cyclists were taken to the Pronto Socorro Hospital (HPS),
but they have already been released. After the incident, the
motorist fled the area. His car was found abandoned in an eastern
neighborhood on Saturday morning.

There’s also this article from earlier with an interview with the son and the lawyer. Both say that the car’s windows were broken and that the cyclists were hitting it.

Commenter Ana Tomazini wrote in with this note:
Great article, but things in Brazil doesn’t seem to be going ok for the victims … the biggest press release is already treating as an accident and protecting the criminal … the driver is a well know person, work for the Central Bank and got himself 2 lawyers already …. the cyclists has nothing, not the media, support or money … I can’t see justice been made in this case … It’s a sad, sad reality … All support and efforts are welcome ! Thanks !

Brazil Critical Mass Ride Attacked By Murderous Motorist

February 27th, 2011 by hughillustration

Updated below!

On Friday night in Porto Alegre, Brazil, a motorist intentionally plowed through a large, peaceful crowd of bicyclists participating in that city’s Critical Mass ride. It is a horrific incident, captured on video from several angles. If this is not attempted murder with a deadly weapon, I don’t know what is.

We don’t have much information, but it does appear that at least 12 people were injured. Luckily no one was killed. Treehugger has a translation of a post from the Porto Alegre Critical Mass blog:

Yesterday, as on every last Friday of the month Critical Mass was held, which is a manifestation of what happens in the world when cyclists seek space in traffic, to raise awareness that we ARE PART of the traffic. Bicycles are a self-sustainable, less expensive, and environmentally friendly alternative, even if they’re commonly associated with leisure and recreation.
But what happened yesterday was beyond any expectation we could have had. A driver / killer ran over our group of cyclists. What happened was very scary, and I did not understand what was happening, because we could hear screams and the sound of people falling on the ground, the sound of bodies in the hood, windshield, on the asphalt. I saw legs in the air, helmets, bicycles, arms, all mixed together with parts of the car… all flying and making noise. It was like a horror movie.

Other news sources say the attacker has been identified.

Although police found the badly damaged car on Friday night they have not yet been able to locate it’s driver thought to be the 47-year old owner of the vehicle, Ricardo José Neif [actually the name is Ricardo José Neis according to a commenter here]. While local cyclists have called for the driver to be charged with attempted murder, according to Porto Alegre’s Police Chief, Gilberto Montenegro it is not yet possible to say if the driver intended to run over the cyclists, maybe he hasn’t seen the videos. However, Chief Montenegro has said that If intent is proven the driver may wel face a charge of attempted murder.

One cyclist who was on the ride Camilo Colling, told the Brazilian website Terra Brasil that he spoke to the driver just before the incident, asking him to be patient and stop behaving aggressively towards the riders in his path and warning him that there were children and older people taking part in the ride ahead. The driver allegedly replied “Yes but I’m in a hurry” before ploughing his car in to the group of cyclists in front of him.

Our hearts are with the victims of this horrific crime. Let’s dedicate the March Critical Mass to our friends in Brazil, so they know that they are not alone. And let’s hope the violent attacker will be held accountable for his crime.

Here’s the video (warning: violent images)”

Update: I asked a friend who speaks and reads Portugese to give a rough translation of the latest news. Here’s what he said:

The latest news on their blog is that a particular person was identified as the motorist responsible, and he was planning to turn himself in to the police today (Sunday). Although nobody died, the other Critical Mass riders are upset that press reports have used the term “accident” instead of language like “attack” or “attempted murder”. The Porto Alegre CM community is extremely angry and is planning some protests, including one that already happened and a large rally upcoming on March 3.

This cartoon

translates as something like “well, I’m from Porto Alegre”, or “it’s just that I’m from Porto Alegre”, or “it’s because I’m from Porto Alegre”.

According to this article, there were 10 cyclists hit and 5 of them were taken to a hospital for medical attention. That article also says that it was a hit-and-run.

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