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: November 24th, 2017, 5:30pm, at Justin Herman Plaza (foot of Market Street).

Many Voices on Critical Mass

September 27th, 2012 by hughillustration

Critical Mass and the SF Bicycle Coalition are often seen as one entity by the public or by the media. That’s a huge categorical error, and one it is often necessary to try to correct. On the one hand you have a leaderless street action, and on the other you have a nonprofit organization that works with city government. Those are two very different breeds! But happily there *is* a lot of overlap, and over the years lots of synergy and mutual support.

The SFBC chose to stop listing Critical Mass on their calendar some time ago, and just recently did not list the 20th anniversary and associated activities that have been put together.

Some people in the bike community were upset about this, so this blog published an open letter yesterday from Quintin Mecke to the SFBC, taking them to task for not including these events in their calendar. Quintin’s views are his own, but we were happy to publish them.

That’s why we started this blog — to give a home to many diverse views about Critical Mass, bicycle activism and bike culture in the Bay Area. We’ll publish almost anything! If you have an opinion about Critical Mass or bike culture and activism, send it to us. If it’s not outright hateful/racist/inflammatory/threatening, we are happy to publish it.

Though surprising, for those of us who moderate this blog and for those of us who volunteered to put together many of the activities this week, not being on the SFBC calendar is OK with us! We still appreciate all that they do at the SFBC. (Sitting through hours upon hours of meetings with city bureaucrats for one thing — not many of us can possibly face this! Thank god the SFBC has the patience!)

Looking forward to the Critical Mass ride on Friday!

— Hugh D’Andrade, LisaRuth Elliot, Chris Carlsson, Adriana Camarena

Dear Bike Coalition, from Quintin Mecke

September 27th, 2012 by Russel

Dear Bike Coalition:

Sadly, I can’t say I was surprised when I read this week’s SFBC Newsletter and found absolutely zero mention of the 20th Anniversary of Critical Mass.  According to your own newsletter, apparently the only thing happening in the San Francisco bike world that is worthy of your 12,000 members knowing about on Friday, Sept. 28 is SFBC’s Valet Bike Parking at the DeYoung Museum.  Seriously?

This is the San Francisco Bike Coalition and you couldn’t even bring yourselves to stick a small mention of Critical Mass in your newsletter or on your website (or god forbid you actually celebrate/acknowledge CM and show some pride), a cycling event created here in San Francisco which has spread across the globe to multiple continents since its inception & inspired thousands of cyclists to take to the street?  It’s truly amazing that Critical Mass was on the cover of the Guardian this week and even SF Funcheap listed the event but SFBC wouldn’t even put a mention at the bottom in the “Upcoming Events” section, hidden away amongst all the SFBC sponsored events? Not even a listing of the critical mass website or the community events going on all week long?  Your website lists the celebration of the 15th anniversary of TransForm but not Critical Mass?

Wow.  I’m truly speechless.  How embarrassing but more to the point, how sad. Are you afraid of offending Chuck Nevius or Mayor Lee? I don’t know how, why or what SFBC has become as an organization at this point but it’s disappointing as a long time cyclist to see the city’s only (?) organized bike advocacy organization which continually touts how many members you have to not even show the smallest amount of solidarity to your fellow cyclists and to the city’s own cycling history.  That being the case, history will march on without you.

Contrary to our “biking” Supervisor David Chiu’s comments in today’s Chronicle (I always enjoy politicians running from anything deemed controversial), it’s actually SFBC that is simply one tiny part of a much larger movement made up of a variety of cyclists from all walks of life whose decision twenty years ago to ride freely in the street once a month for just a few short hours has laid the groundwork for cycling reforms, political action and transformative experiences across the country and the world.

What a shame that instead of celebrating all parts of the cycling community, SFBC has decided to distance itself from the historic roots of its own community in the name of moderation, families on bikes and political expediency.

Enjoy Bike Valet night at the DeYoung Museum, it sounds like an awesome event.

thanks,
Quintin

Your Week Begins: Sun-Tue Schedule

September 23rd, 2012 by Russel

Welcome to the Critical Mass 20th Anniversary Week. Hope you can make some or all of these great activities!

Welcome Center
Opens: Monday, Sept. 24 at 1pm
Closes: Friday Sept. 28 at 5pm
Hours: 1pm-5pm every day
Location: 518 Valencia St. at 16th St. (Map)
Public Transportation: BART: 16th St. Mission :: MUNI: 14, 22, 33, 49 (also J, 12, and 27)

Here are some of the upcoming events early in the week:

Sunday, Sept. 23
2 pm
Art/Freak Bike Ride. Normal bikes welcome. Waterfront to the Mission. Slow pace. Meet at Hi-Dive, Pier 28, 1:30PM. Ride leaves at 2PM 3-4 hours. Post ride BBQ to follow.

Monday, Sept. 24 
6pm
Welcome Center Opening Night with Art Exhibition Opening, 518 Valencia (at 16th), FREE

Tuesday, Sept. 25 
7pm
Critical Mass @ 20 Screening at ATA, 992 Valencia (nr. 21st), $6

DAILY BIKE RIDES (M-W)

Mon., Sept. 24
11am: San Francisco to San Mateo and back again… join an expert trail rider who will take you on a scenic tour down the bayshore and through some hills (depending on riders’ preferences), finding the nooks and crannies south of San Francisco that even most locals don’t know about! Meet at Welcome Center, 518 Valencia… bring lunch and water!

Tues., Sept. 25
1:30-3:30pm: Chris Carlsson leads a 2-hour “Transit History” tour: Discover lost freeways, ghosts of train routes, and a vivid account of how San Franciscans moved around this peninsula through time. Hear about the violent strikes that shaped public transit, the graft and corruption that conquered the Outside Lands. It’s a social, historical and critical tour through the city’s transportation past and present. Meet at Hayes and Octavia (“Patricia’s Green”), we will leave promptly!

Wed., Sept. 26
12 noon: Susanne Zago (fluent in English and Italian) will lead a ride along theeast shore of the SF Bay, from West Oakland BART to the Rosie-the-Riveter monument in Richmond, California. It’s a fantastically scenic, beautiful bayshore ride, with easy return by BART. Meet at West Oakland BART at 11:45 a.m.

12 noon: NOIZ Ride: meet at the  McKinley statue across Baker street from the Dept. of Motor Vehicles on the Panhandle Park.  Bring eatables, drinkables, extra layers to wear,  and your ears.  There will be Three Bands!!! – we will ride around town exploring and stopping very often for some tunes and merriment.  Ride will last several hours and will not be strenuous with probably no hills.  We will probably intersect with the book opening.

A Bay Bridge for Everyone

September 23rd, 2012 by Russel

A Bay Bridge for Everyone

Next year the new east span of the Bay Bridge will open. Thanks to the diligent and dogged efforts of cyclists and sustainable transport advocates in the 1990s, Caltrans was required to build a bike-and-pedestrian path as part of the new structure.

Caltrans (known as the California Department of Highways for most of its existence) has always been biased in favor of automobiles and freeways, and has never shown any interest in providing bicycling infrastructure. It’s obvious that Caltrans bureaucrats were angered by the requirement to include a bike path. How could it be that in 2012 the primary statewide agency in charge of transportation infrastructure neglects its responsibility to provide fair and equal resources to California’s cycling citizens? Are they trying to prove that nobody wants to cycle across the bay by making it unpleasant? So it seems.

Instead of being put on the north side of the new span, with great views of Marin and the North Bay—and the steady rush of clean fresh air that generally comes with the prevailing northwesterly winds, the new bike lane:

  • • has been placed on the south side of the new bridge,subjecting everyone to car exhaust
  • • faces the old bridge until it is demolished
  • • will face the hazy view south toward the Port of Oakland

Worse still, the new lane arrives in mid-Bay at Yerba Buena Island with NO current prospect of continuing to San Francisco.

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