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: December 29th, 2017, 5:30pm, at Justin Herman Plaza (foot of Market Street).

Videos of September rides from SF and beyond!

September 29th, 2010 by hughillustration

Brooks Hassig from Design by Seeing did this great time lapse of our 18th Anniversary ride in September. Nice! Thanks, Brooks!

Meanwhile, Twitter pal Deprogrammer 9 found a bunch of videos of September rides from around the country and the world. Here are a few of them!

Budapest!

Brussels!

Oristano!

Detroit!

Los Angeles!

Chicago!

Critical Mass’s Day of Majority

September 26th, 2010 by adama

20100924183336 Velorutionary SOMA
Last Friday’s ride commemorated the 18th birthday of Critical Mass! Happy birthday to everyone who has ridden Critical Mass in those years, all the friends we’ve made and lives that have been changed during that time.

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I liked this photo for the wary eye of the San Jose Bike Party rider as he looks over his shoulder at a motorcyclist interloper. It seemed like a good illustration of just why corking is important. Having a motorcyclist or car weaving in the midst of a mass of bicyclists is downright dangerous!

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This expensive Lamborghini convertible reminded me of a comment by Ric Bruce I read a few days ago on Streetsblog:

Perhaps it would be useful to address the true underlying cause of driver inattention. That is, driving a car is tedious manual labour.

Paradoxically, nobody knows that better than the automobile manufacturers themselves. Their massive advertising budgets (approximately US$17 billion per year for the last five years or so) invariably feature single cars “flying” down roads uncluttered with other cars, red lights, or pedestrians or bicyclists. In other words, the companies’ extensive research into the issue has clearly proven that the realities of automobile ownership and operation are, at best, unsaleable.

In an effort to distract attention from the underlying tedium that is driving, automobile manufacturers have added an ever-increasing number of toys that enable the driver to amuse themselves.

So, rather than attempt to “make roads safer” or “make drivers pay attention”, perhaps we’d do better to recognize that driving isn’t “fun” or “freedom” or “excitement”, and begin liberating Americans from the tyranny of the automobile-centric way of life.

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We ended up in the Presidio — always a great place to explore on a warm September night!

20100924183803 Ralph Nader Does Not Approve
I titled this one “Ralph Nader Does Not Approve,” thinking of the “Unsafe at Any Speed” phrase. I personally love seeing people carrying kids and dogs by bike. The serious injuries I hear about with bikes always involve cars. Biking is not in itself a dangerous activity!

Congratulations for another successful Critical Mass! Here’s to another 18 years!

Critical Mass Goes Deep (into the southern neighborhoods)

September 1st, 2010 by ccarlsson

This was first published over at The Nowtopian a few days ago, and we decided to republish it here.

Uphill on Potrero crossing 16th Street, August 2010 Critical Mass in San Francisco.

We had an incredible Critical Mass last Friday night (August 27, 2010). It was led on an unprecedented route–my congratulations to the folks who made the effort to get the ride out of its rut for a 2nd consecutive month (I rode in the back and only found out later who was out front doing such a good job! way to go, mosquito abaters!). We went south, weaving through the South of Market to pop out on to Potrero and then much to everyone’s surprise, after a long cruise south past General Hospital we did a short jog right and left on 25th, Hampshire, 26th and Bryant to make a big left on Cesar Chavez.

You get a sense of how huge our rides are from this shot, looking south on Potrero.
One minute we’re taking up the whole of Cesar Chavez right near the freeway entrance…
…But after a siren indicates an approaching emergency vehicle, Critical Mass riders easily clear the road in seconds.

We went south into the Bayview. One of the occasional obnoxious comments hurled at Critical Mass over on our blog or in the always-insufferable SFGate comments is something along the lines of “why don’t you take your ride into the Bayview instead of going through North Beach, the Mission and/or the Haight every month?”  Well we had a fantastic ride down there, first taking Bayshore Blvd and Oakdale, turning on Palou, south on 3rd Street for a while, and then a big westerly turn on Williams.

Read the rest of this entry »

Uncivility Sucks

August 22nd, 2010 by hughillustration

I recently discovered an anti-Critical Mass website called criticalmasssucks.com. It’s a slick site with some angry tirades about all the usual things that people hate about Critical Mass: we don’t stop for lights, we’re supposedly attacking motorists, etc. The slickness of the design and writing tell me it was probably created by some sort of sophisticated marketing professional.

But beyond the slickness, what is notable about this site are two things: 1) the nasty, mean spirited tone, rude language and insults he throws around, and 2) the fact that he does not allow comments. (And he has gone to the trouble of registering his site anonymously to prevent any public contact.) Also notable is the absence of serious, well-reasoned arguments — this is a person who prefers scoring cheap points to changing minds.

Our blog is not perfect. But we have never, in any of our posts and arguments, called anyone a “bitch” or a “douchebag” or used any insulting language whatsoever. We have never resorted to sarcasm, taunts or insults to make our points. And we allow comments.

Now, the comments are a real sore point for me, since I have mostly been the one receiving them and answering them one by one. They are mostly negative, but I publish them anyway, so long as the tone is civil. (We also allow comments on our Facebook page.) On more than one occasion, rather than deleting threatening comments I have written back to request a re-written, more civil comment — and gotten it. I or my co-bloggers have responded to every comment with fair and respectful replies.

We have also made ourselves easy to contact and identify. Chris and Joel both post under their own names. I use a pen name for Google search reasons, but I’m easy enough to find: click on my pen name and you’ll be taken to my site.

This seems to me a basic requirement of any site that seeks to influence the public: facing your critics and taking responsibility for your opinions. Sure, it’s a pain. Actually, it’s a lot of work. But to do otherwise would be hypocritical, it seems to me.

So, in response to all the taunting name calling, I’m calling Mr. Criticalmasssucks.com out with a challenge. Open up your site to civil, respectful comments and let the public agree or disagree with your point of view. See if you can live up to the challenge of defending your opinions. It’s the right thing to do.