Critical Mass Do’s & Don’ts!

October 27th, 2009 by hughillustration


• talk to stranger, bystanders, bus riders, motorists – welcome people to join us next time

• help cars stuck in mass to exit to the right

• stop regularly if you’re in front (no matter how slowly you think you’re going, gaps are opening up behind you)

• stop at red lights when in front to allow the rest of the ride to “mass up” behind.

• keep going in dense packs through red lights to stick together and keep it safe for everyone.

• fill gaps; Critical Mass depends on bicycle density to displace cars.

• remember that pleasure and friendliness are more subversive than anger and blaming.


• race ahead to block cross traffic before the Mass has arrived

• ride into oncoming traffic on the wrong side of the road

• pick fights with motorists, even (especially) if they’re itching for one

• fail to turn and twist through the city to make the ride more interesting

• forget to smile and wave and talk to strangers!

• imagine that you are morally superior just cuz you’re on a bicycle (you’ll be in a car again soon enough)

• hesitate to tell other Massers what you think of their behavior, whether good or bad. Talk to each other!

• forget – we are all responsible to make Critical Mass what we want it to be.

45 Responses to “Critical Mass Do’s & Don’ts!”

  1. David says:

    DO: make friends with (and s’mores for) motorists.
    See fig a:

  2. here is the essay I wrote that appears in the 2009 slingshot organizer – it is on similar lines.

    thanks, jesse

    Bicycle Critical Mass
    Critical Mass bike rides are spontaneous, leaderless rides that begin at specific times and locations in various cities around the world. Since no one organizes the rides, the rides have no agreed agenda or demands. They aren’t a protest. Instead, when we ride on Critical Mass, we’re living the world we would like to see — filling the streets with bikes, laughter, human speed, clean air, engagement and life. At Critical Mass, we can bike down the street safe from speeding cars — together — empowered by our numbers. Critical Mass is a celebration.
    Critical mass rides sometimes enrage car drivers because bike traffic competes with car traffic for space on the road. Cars have their critical mass 29 days of the month when bikes get crowded out — it’s called rush hour! Critical mass is a single day when bike traffic briefly outnumbers car traffic. Maybe in 50 years, bikes will outnumber cars everyday. As concerns about global warming increase, people are searching for alternatives like bikes. A community of cyclists is developing — demanding respect and some space on the road.
    Even though every ride in every city is different, frequent Critical Mass riders (mass-holes?) have been learning ways to make our rides better. Here are some tips for riding in Critical Mass or creating your own:
    • Ride Slow, talk fast – The key to a successful Critical Mass is having enough bikes riding close enough together so as to take up all or at least one lane of a road. That makes riding in the zone filled with bikes fun and safe. To keep the ride together, the people in front have to bike really slow — un-naturally slow. If the front goes fast, the ride will quickly get too thin and break apart — allowing angry car drivers into the breaches. Riding slow is actually a great opportunity to meet your fellow riders, sightsee, smell the flowers, or catch up on life with friends.
    • Smile and Wave – It is inevitable that you’ll eventually meet an irate motorist. When this happens, its is best to de-escalate and meet anger with joy. Don’t take the bait to stop your bike and argue — just keep moving and ring a happy bike bell. Keep in mind the point of Critical Mass — to have fun riding our bikes together. Most mass-holes don’t want to intentionally delay traffic — rather, we want to be traffic and ride. When a ride gets angry and confrontational, you’ll quickly lose a lot of riders — and they won’t want to come back next time.
    • Mass Up! – If you’re at the front, it’s up to you to notice if the ride behind you is getting too thin or spread out. If it does, stop at a red light and wait for the ride to mass up.
    • Adjust tactics depending on size – If a ride is huge, it may take up all lanes and run traffic lights to keep things moving and together. These behaviors don’t work if you’re on a small ride — it just pisses drivers off, makes the ride look arrogant, and turns the ride into a stressful battle, not a fun party. If the ride is tiny, consider just taking a single lane and obeying all traffic laws. It can help to turn frequently so cars are not backed up behind you.
    • Determining the route – Some rides use a system called “xerocracy” in which anyone who wants can hand out a xeroxed flier suggesting a route. Other rides discuss and agree on a general route before the ride. Some have a typical route they repeat ride after ride. Others pick their route on the fly — whoever is in front makes the decision at each intersection about whether to turn right, left or go forward. Watch out about going in circles! It can be nice to discuss a fun place to end while you’re riding— a park, the shore, a bar, a good place to watch the sunset, etc. Some rides end at parties, bike film festivals, political events or outdoor bike-in movies.
    • Dress up and decorate your bike! The more fun and beautiful a ride is, the more riders it will attract and the less angry motorists will become. You can include bikes with sound systems, pass out snacks, or have theme costumes: a Halloween ride or a bike prom ride, etc. Some riders carry signs or hand out fliers to explain what is going on to people the ride passes.
    • How to start a ride – If your town doesn’t have a ride, anyone can start one by simply picking a meeting spot and a time and place. You don’t need permission since no one is in charge! The most popular time is 6 p.m. on the last Friday of each month — but any time will do as long as you keep it consistent. Then you announce the ride for a month or so and get all your friends to go. You can put fliers on bikes you see locked up around town. Once you’ve had your first ride, hopefully word of mouth will keep the ride going into the future. If police show up at your meeting spot, keep in mind that Critical Mass has no leaders and thus no one can really speak to the cops on behalf of the ride. Bikes have a right to ride together if they like — just a happy coincidence! — and don’t need permits to do so. If the cops demand that you get a permit, ask them if they make cars get a permit for rush hour!

  3. mud says:

    you guys should formalize this list and make it a dedicated page in the navigation. this site is going to receive a shit ton of visitors and while you are not THE voice of the mass, you are A voice of the mass. people are going to be looking to you for answers whether or not you like it.

  4. wilhelm says:

    The negative/aggro vibe that I get from many CMers is the one thing that has made me really hesitant to participate in the past.

    We need to make it clear that CM is an inclusive, safe, and positive force for change.

  5. Jamie says:

    I would also suggest adding having consideration for Muni – I live in DuBoce Park and more often than not, wind up getting stuck in a N or a J that can’t get out of the tunnel because CM isn’t letting trains through. Each Muni train is a lot less cars every day and it’s really frustrating to see your stop, but can’t get the last 100 feet to it for 20 minutes.

  6. Dave Snyder says:

    Great list!

    A bunch of us a few years ago tried to reinstate the best spirit of critical mass and it worked partially but not for long. It turns out that the effort to take back the ride from the assholes who use the safety in numbers to take out their (usually, let’s face it) petty frustrations (that are sometimes deadly serious, I know) on unfortunate motorists is harder than it seems. They are not easily convinced that critical mass is not about ‘taking it to the motorists.’ And it only takes a few of them to ruin the spirit of the ride for everyone. So it takes a lot of us to change that. It was easier in the old days when the dominant spirit was good, and the assholes were in the minority. It will be harder now but we can certainly do it.

    In that earlier effort, we produced this flyer, check it out. Better yet, print out hundreds of them and circulate them on the ride. It will literally take thousands of these flyers to have the desired effect.

    pdf format:

    doc format:

  7. roberto says:

    Don’t be an a**hole. Don’t be hostile to cars just for the hell of it. Don’t take all the lanes. Don’t drive your SUV into SF from Fremont to ride in CM. DO stop for peds. Don’t ride on bus routes if at all avoidable. Don’t ride on Van Ness or Market. Been there, done that. Do have an adventure.

  8. […] distributed at the ride, a book was published). Once or twice a year someone shows up with a flyer addressing the culture of the ride, or prepares a suggested route, but in general, cultural production, once so essential to the […]

  9. We’re bicycling from San Francisco to Washington, DC between 24-July and 22-Sept, 2010, without motorized support. Cynthia McKinney, six term Member of Congress and 2008 Green Party nominee for President, is riding. The ride will demonstrate the bicycle as a transformational tool to solve the problems of Climate Change, Oil Wars, the Health Crisis, and the Economic Crunch. Along the way, riders will facilitate community discussions around the question “How can we support each other to live true to our best values?”

    Our route, schedule, and discussion group are open to anybody with a free Google account. Please join us. If you would like to bicycle all or part of the route, plan a convergence ride, or host riders passing through your community, please e-mail Please forward this and re-post to others who might be interested.

  10. V. Isacks says:

    I’m sorry but while your cause of getting more people to use non-automobile forms of transit as much as possible may be a noble one from an environmental viewpoint – your methodology of doing it by essentially blocking traffic and hurting a city’s productivity makes you seen as only an irritant to people and basically does the exact OPPOSITE of what you want because it annoys the hell out of people – even those who believe in your basic cause of getting out of the car as much as possible to lessen environmental impact!

    A bit about myself and my husband – when at home in the US, I try to do as much of my work-work and school-work from home as possible to save on commute. I recycle well over the majority of what I use and my house has more green/environmental technology on it than you will probably ever be able to afford. Without getting into too many details the technological equipment my husband creates has literally increased the productivity of Doctors’ Without Borders, reduces the injury/killed-soldier rate of the US and UK militaries, reduces the need for face to face meetings thus lowering the carbon footprint of EVERY company/organization that uses it and ensures the safety of our President – among many other things. When abroad I am usually working my ass off helping a charity or non-profit of some sort get up and running or become more effective.

    On the few days a week ‘at home’ I do have to ‘commute’ the majority of my commutes are done by a combination of my feet, some form of public transport, or adult tricycle (I cannot use a traditional bike because it aggravates my sciatica and doesn’t allow me enough room to carry my school books and/or equipment needed for work presentation). BART does NOT allow tricycles only bikes – which as I have said I cannot use for health reasons doing with lack of balance and because it cannot carry my equipment load. This makes it so that when I DO have to do a fundraising presentation more than the 4 blocks maximum I can wheel this equipment – which is 100% of them – before my back breaks down in shear agony and then cannot walk – I need to use my hybrid car to shelp the materials into the city or Berkeley or wherever is NOT my house in the suburbs.

    I DO NOT appreciate getting blocked on the way to try and get to said agencies, businesses, banks and other potential high profile donors to give to my also noble causes such as HIV/AIDs in South Africa or water issues in Namibia, or literacy programs in Compton. The VIPs and organizations I try and get money from are filled with VERY busy – sometimes high profile – people who only give me a limited amount of time to present to them. If I miss my appointment they often will NOT reschedule

    In the last seven years since moving back to the SF Bay Area Critical Mass has blocked me eighteen time causing me to lose fourteen appointments – like I said VIPs will RARELY rebook someone who is trying to get money from them for a cause- which is an estimated minimum of 70 thousand in total donations (as I ‘mode’ at least 5K a presentation done) which breaks down to approximately 64.4 thousand to the agencies and 5.6 K in personal income for myself. One of the appointments was with a person who if you CAN get to them has a tendency to give big (like in the hundreds of thousands to even millions) but is VERY hard to reach as they are a jetsetter and after 5 years have not been able to coordinate our schedules to meet – so really who knows HOW much exactly those served by the charities I help have lost because of your arrogance!?!?! I don’t know but what I do know is that because of this – and other times you have blocked me trying to get somewhere – I absolutely HATE YOUR ORGANIZATION!

    Print a calendar for Pete’s Sake so people can schedule their appointments in those cities around your ‘faux-protests.’

  11. Thanks for your comment. It is unfortunate that you have such a low opinion of us, since it seems on so much else we can agree (and since you are clearly serious about making the world a better place). I invite you to read these earlier posts, in which I address most of your concerns:

    I’m not sure why you would like us to print a calendar — the ride takes place on the last friday of every month, and has done so for almost 18 years. Thanks again for reading and writing, and for your other good works!

  12. V. Isacks says:

    I have a low opinion because when I’ve had to use the car to get to those fundraising appointments I’ve been blocked by Critical Mass SF cyclists. I even asked when the events were so I could schedule around them I was told to “shove it ‘faux-environmentalist'” (maybe because my Prius is not godd enough in their eyes) in any case if I could take my presentation stuff on BART I would, sometimes if it’s just school stuff I can use the wheeled backpack and then I DO use BART but for presentations the stuff is so bulky there is just no ways around needing a car for anything past tricycle distance.

    I even asked them to move specifically stating it was a non profit fundraising appointment and I was told “no cars let through no exceptions” – sorry but exceptions happen and need to be made for people in cars for things like medical emergencies and cycles like mine where the greater good was at stake.

    Thanks for finally letting me know it’s on the last friday of the month, this was the data I wanted to know many years before but after the first 3 queries being met with crude words I just didn’t ask anymore.

    Conversely the Chicago group was very nice and told me where to see their calendar so I could schedule my appointments when I was there around their blockade. I’ve also heard good things about the Seattle group, so I don’t know if it’s more about SF Bay Area-ite’s rigid (facist – yes liberals can be just as facist as conservatives) interpretation of the philosophy but I take issue with that amount of rigidity of not letting anyone pass. Reasonable and intelligent people hear each case out and decide on a case by case basis if the person should be allowed to pass or be blocked.

  13. V. Isacks says:

    As for your answer to #2 I do try to avoid driving during “sports events, political rallies, Bay to Breakers” especially in the city it’s just not worth it. Chinese NY is okay because I can do it all in mass transit (save the 7 mins drive/ 17 trike to BART) and usually their are things around it where I can fundraise. BUT, If I don’t have to be their to fundraise or for school – in general I avoid large scale events, mainly as crowds seem to bring out bad behaviour in even the most nice of people I know. CMSF should practise what you call self-management but I’ve not seen this with the SF branch, and until I see and hear of improvement I will continue to not like your organization. I mean why not formally appologize for the errors of the past and ban those particular individuals from participating if they are distructive? That makes sense to me.

    Still don’t think the argument for the back part of the procession running reds is logical, in most other countries whomever has the green has the right to run over those who are running the red and it’s not even considered a ticketable offense even if it ends in death for the person running the red – you are lucky we live in California. Still, If we all don’t follow the lights then chaos ensues. It’s almost Darwinian if you don’t value your life enough to stop you kind of deserve trouble – maybe not death but at least a bit of pain of some sort.

    I suppose if you see cars as ‘evil’ then you might think the behavour exhibited by some of your participants is okay – but I see engineering and science finding a better way to make them more efficient (such as a move to electricity which can be made from SO many more ecofriendly models) as solving the issue rather than taking away that option for people with longer commutes or who are carrying large quantities of things. Sure getting everyone to reduce consumption is a good thing but some of you are just as ridged as John Bircher’s and Birther’s on the other end of the spectrum.

  14. V. Issacs,

    I read with great enjoyment your argument of a double standard.

    Being blocked by cyclists is a terrible thing to happen when you are trying to raise money for a good cause.

    I quote key points of your discussion in reverse.

    “VERY hard to reach as they are a jetsetter and after 5 years have not been able to coordinate our schedules to meet”

    “VIPs will RARELY rebook someone who is trying to get money from them for a cause”

    These two points really make it seem difficult to meet these people anyway, without a mass of cyclists in between.

    So I guess with a calendar of events you can know in advance which dates to miss, but what if these are the only dates available to meet with “Jetsetters” who “give big (like in the hundreds of thousands to even millions)”?

    The answer is found close at home…

    “Technological equipment my husband creates … reduces the need for face to face meetings”

    And if you have more green technology than I can ever afford, just donate your own savings.

    All the best.


  15. Josie Miranda says:

    Please wear clothes while you ride….very disturbing seeing old naked men riding along. My kids don’t need to see that and its illegal.

  16. jc says:

    I do not object to the principles of CM. However, it would be beneficial to everyone to be considerate of the motorists who an option. We do need to get some place (sometimes) especially after a long week spent in the office. We want to enjoy our weekend as well. cross behind us when you can. Mutual respect goes a long way.

  17. RicardoNeisRIP says:

    V. Issac’s – can you please tell me which organization you are with? Seems as if you have plenty of personal income via your husband and your skimming of donations. I would like to know who you are and represent as you do sound like a baby. Who can’t ride a bike, honestly? Don’t give me your “Sciatica” BS I have more back problems than a retard with wings. It’s called exercise and proper training which will strengthen your weak little muscles to be strong enough to deal with your back and other problems your “easy-come easy-go” money is concerned.

    I assume you come from money, if you can travel all over the world and afford a Prius and all the other “Green” technologies. Additionally if you can afford all the time for these meetings and recycling you must not really know what real work is like both physically and mentally. You sound like one big charity case of daddy’s money. Or a gold digg’n candy face but I highly doubt this as even the richest gold diggers know that you need to workout and stay fit to please the eye properly.

    While I don’t agree with the idiot hipsters who have poor manners and self control I do support the cause of Critical Mass. I have too been blocked and angered by these behaviors and those that take it to extremes usually get caught up with at one point or another.

    I don’t generally ride in the Mass due to the timing with my work and lifestyle but I am glad that some responsible people make it out and show that people need to be aware and calm down when a cyclist is near your car. Relax that temper and wait for the right opportunity to pass or find alternative direction.

  18. Bradixp says:

    My Dear Issacs,

    I think basically what you are saying can be broken down into nice little segments:

    1. Be Friendly
    2. Be Considerate of those you share the roads with, Even MUNI
    3. Follow all the rules of the road, Red lights do mean stop, Just think of them as breaks for riders to catch their breaths, or extend their ride and show off some CM bling
    4. Don’t pick fights with cars, they are bigger then you and hospital stays are simply no fun


  19. David says:

    I really hate SF Critical Mass. A couple of times I’ve been exhausted by a grueling week and having forgotten that it’s a CM Day, haplessly gotten on my BUS home, only to have it trapped for 15 or 20 minutes as CM passes. It frosts me that the taxpayers of my nearly bankrupt city pay for a police escort for your illegal activity.

    You sometimes may have seen me informally demonstrating along your route. Not with any pickets signs, but with both middle fingers raised as you pass. Mostly people try to be friendly about the exercise of my Constitutionally guaranteed right of fee speech, but once one of your riders made a point of spitting on me. I remind you that that act is the crime of assault and you are subject to arrest and criminal prosecution if you commit it.

  20. john says:

    does the ride meet at 5:30 – but not get going until 6pm???
    trying to gather a bunch of folks there… thanks!

  21. ccarlsson says:

    yes, it rarely rolls before 6:20 or even 6:30…

  22. Lincoln says:

    I have seen only one cm in sf a few years ago. I enjoyed watching it very much and actually spoken to a few that ride and one told me that there are a few that cause problems. Some riders that I met were very polite and had some very good looking bikes. I just wish that the few flies in the ointment do not ruin it for everybody.

  23. sarahb says:

    I support the ideals espoused by the original Critical Mass. I’m a native San Franciscan; I love SF and I would love to see more people biking and/or using public transportation, for many reasons. I remember the early CM rides, though I didn’t participate – they seemed positive and well-intentioned. I had a few friends who rode in early CMs and loved them. I’m not a knee-jerk, anti-bicycle, anti-CM person by nature.
    However, a few years ago, I had my first awful experience with CM riders. I was in my car, stuck in the mass; I wasn’t particularly bothered by it – at that point, I liked Critical Mass and didn’t mind slowing down for the riders. While I was stopped and waiting, I noticed a rider coming up behind me, weaving through traffic fast and aggressively. The cars behind me were close together – one of them had just merged over, so his car was angled, creating a smaller space for the biker to ride through. This apparently pissed off the CM rider so much that he felt it necessary to stop, get off his bike, scream and yell at the people in the cars behind me. Then he walked up to my car (which wasn’t even part of his problem – I was just convenient, I guess) – and started pounding on my roof, trunk, and hood with his fists as hard as he could, screaming the whole time. I rolled down my window and said something like “Hey! Don’t beat on my car, please!” For this request, I was treated to being called a “f**king b*tch” and several other nasty things. Great. I had done nothing to piss this guy off, and frankly, neither had the cars behind me – they hadn’t even been moving when he came up like a rocket and suddenly felt the gap between them, that he had chosen to ride through, was too small for his liking. I had $700 worth of body damage to my car, with no recourse. I just paid it, and felt slightly less benevolent toward Critical Mass.
    Then came the incident about five years ago. At the time, my mother was very sick – in the process of dying. She was in and out of hospitals on an emergency basis. I was downtown one evening doing volunteer work when I got a call from the hospital ER – my mom had passed out and been brought in by ambulance. They told me she was dying, and I had to get there fast. I jumped into my car and started to drive up Mission, away from downtown. Critical Mass caught up with me about five minutes later. Traffic stopped, of course, as Mass riders swarmed around. I put my signal on and tried to turn off Mission to get out of the Mass and get to the hospital. As soon as they saw my turn signal blinking, a group of riders purposely rushed up and formed a line, blocking the street I was trying to turn onto. They stopped their bikes and looked at me and laughed, yelling helpful things about me being a world-polluting asshole, why didn’t I get a bike instead, blah blah. They wouldn’t move. I rolled down my window, made eye contact with one of them, and got him to come up to my car. I told him my situation – mother sick, dying in hospital, PLEASE let me get out of the Mass to get to her. He laughed in my face, and said – this is a direct quote – “Relax, bitch. Just fuckin’ relax and enjoy it.” And walked away.
    I sat there crying with frustration, fear, sadness, and rage. Relax and enjoy it? And ‘bitch’ yet again? Why? For driving my freaking car?? Was this what Critical Mass had become? The rider I’d just talked to and his friends were riding around in little circles, laughing and drinking from containers in brown paper bags. Great. They were drunk AND didn’t give a crap about a fellow human being in a really desperate situation. My husband, who was with me, was so furious he started to get out of the car and yell at the riders. One of them walked up to yell back. At this point, I got his attention, and just begged him – once again, told him the situation. He didn’t believe me. He rolled his eyes and said “Oh sure, your mom’s in the hospital, right.” This went on for a little while, until finally I guess he saw how hard I was crying, the desperation in my eyes, or something. Finally he said “Are you serious?” “YES!!” my husband and I yelled in unison. And this one rider got the others to create a space so I could turn off Mission and get away from the Mass.
    When I got to the hospital, my mom was in very bad shape. She wasn’t dead, luckily, but that’s all it was – luck. I know there’s no guarantee that the situation would have been better even if the Critical Mass incident hadn’t happened – they didn’t make my mom sick, after all. But I do know that the positive, happy movement I’d once really loved had turned into something really ugly: An excuse for angry, aggro bike riders (some of you, not all, but a LOT of you) to get together and use the benefit of anonymity and “safety in numbers” to take out your frustrations on total strangers. Regardless of those strangers’ circumstances. With absolutely no empathy or concern for whatever those other fellow humans might be going through. Critical Mass, it seemed to me, had become a huge sociopathic drunken mob of absolute jerks.
    I’ve also been knocked over by bicyclists in SF – twice – but that was by messengers, and I can’t lay that at CM’s feet. But these two incidents lost Critical Mass my support and affection forever. Everyone else in my (small) family had already died; my mother was my last living family member, and I lost an hour of the precious time I had left with her because a bunch of self-righteous bullies (again, these particular riders, not all of you) felt like taunting and insulting a total stranger.
    I don’t know how you guys go about curbing this type of CM rider, changing their behavior – I can see you’re trying with this list, which is a great step in the right direction. I just really wish that you could find a way to weed out those who use CM as an excuse to satisfy their inner bully. And try to remember that not everyone in a car is Satan, driving to their appointment to club harp seals and crap on Ralph Nader’s head.

  24. admin says:

    Thanks for your message. I’m so sorry people on our ride treated you so poorly. I hope people who act this way read your post and think about the effect their stupid actions have on others!

    Personally, I have never witnessed any behavior this bad on Critical Mass. When I do see anyone behaving obnoxiously, I do confront them. But I’ve never seen anything like this.

  25. Jasmine Hue says:

    Hi bicyclist and riders,

    I am not exactly sure if I found the right place to put one individual’s comment. Not as a bike person myself any longer, but as a pedestrian and couple times a month passenger in my boyfriends car to go to San Jose or costco. I am actually a bit fearful that by commenting here I will hear back many times worse than when I am in my local neighborhood. Tonight again yelled back at by a young girl when she rode by hitting a bag I was carrying.

    To be direct, I am always puzzled by the total opposite I see in practice and what I understand that this group Critical mass is trying to bring awareness and achieve a change. On the street, every day, every week, I see four hundred and ninety-nine of five hundred bike riders simply breaking the traffic laws. Sorry, there is no better way to say it. And now I am starting to fear all the negative emails back. But I never see any bikes stop at the intersections, or even slow down. And I do not see them respecting the direction of traffic or the proper lanes when it means they should be stopping along with the cars, or motorcycles, or the pedestrians at intersections. Just like tonight when almost home again. I was carrying bags, and no the bicyclist did not hit me directly but was so close to hit my bags, right in front, no stop, just riding through a left turn intersection. When I said she missed a stop sign, she started to curse at me and gave me the finger. I am old enough to be her mother, and she swears at me and give the finger. I expect maybe there is some cultural norm I may not be understanding, but after nine years of seeing the same habits, I can not grasp the true goal of critical mass.

    What I understand is the group wishes to have people endorse bicycle transportation, provide proper rode respect, and each person doing our individual best for the environment when our commutes can be done by mass transit or individual transportation (walking, bikes).

    I am sorry for this long message, but I have been here so many years and get very frustrated and also fearful walking. I see on the news that tomorrow is a big anniversary for critical mass. But all I can think and all I can believe is that if any percentage…. or rather if the majority percentage of bicycles obeyed the motorist rules as they are required by law, then critiacl mass could have achieved what I understand as your goals in half the years of existence.

    Again, I am sorry to post here. for I worry I do not understand what is some issue I do not see day to day. But I can not understand the logic by continuing monthly rides with purposely breaking the traffic laws as a way to gain support, verses a change in behavior, that there is going to be some change in acceptance. It is the same that I keep and love my two dogs, but I can have no understanding or respect for the pet owners I see in the park that do not obey the lease laws, or clean up after their pet, and let them run free in the children school park by my home. Just as I love my dogs, I love bikes and wish I could still ride as when I was in school, but I have no respect for the bike riders that I see causing so many problems every day.

    Please try to find a way to promote bike riders and proper responsibility for behavior that can promote everyone to ride bikes if possible. Can it be done as in other countries where bikes aslo obey the law and act responsibly?

    I wiish you all ride safely on the anniversary ride tomorrow.

  26. Don says:

    I read with dread about the upcoming 20th Anniversary CM ride….I am trying to figure out how I am going to get my boyfriend to/from his Dr’s appointment as it will be a bigger nightmare than usual. Several years back this boyfriend was hit by a CM rider and knocked to the ground IN A CROSSWALK–he was bloodied and had to be assisted by passers by because the CM rider didn’t stop but looked back and laughed. If this guy had been caught he would be in jail now.

    The point you are trying to make about making the street safe for bicycling is totally lost because you are inconsiderate, selfish, self indulgent assholes who have no consideration for others and are willing to cause injury to others and their livelihoods.

    I ride a bike, I try to make every accommodation and safety consideration I can while driving
    to bicyclists, but I LOATH AND DESPISE ALL OF YOU. You are the biggest most selfish assholes in the Bay Area.

  27. Jason says:

    20 years of pounding and scratching cars…even those parked and not in traffic. 20 years of public transportation snarls. 20 years of crazed tirades, inconsideration, and drunkenness. Great job at making your point. Not!

  28. Jason says:

    And I am a cyclist… Without better self policing, and accountability, bad behavior by the few ruin it for the majority. If you see one one behaving like an arse, there is really nothing normal riders can do… C.m. Has been and is an excuse to rage against society even when that rage is misdirected. Mob mentality protects the sick, the demented…. And again, ruins what should be a great cause and expression of free speech

  29. Kevin says:

    Make sure to let vehicles exit. We don’t want this to happen again!

  30. disgruntled says:


  31. KMac says:

    Here is my feedback after what I witnessed in the Mission District this eve 10/26/12;

    DO…..Allow emergency vehicles (e.g., Ambulance with lights and sirens) to get through. I could hear it and see it….didn’t you…oh, I’m sorry but I forgot that your mission and intervention is so self-centered to have any concern for someone who needed emergency care somewhere in the City!

    DO….Have guilt and sympathy for the person whose ambulance was delayed in reaching them this evening.

    DO NOT….Think that your effort is more important that public safety and EMS response.

    You’ve lost any empathy or support for your effort that I had previously.

  32. Jim says:

    I support critical mass. I am from the US but just lived in Europe for two years. The Dutch have it down, protected bike lanes keep everyone happy and safe and promote a healthy mode of transportation with cleaner air for all. I wish the city of SF moved faster to create protected green lanes. (like Chicago for instance even though SF weather encourages more biking days) I think critical mass should use their rides to advocate for more of these lanes to be built and sooner. If the city officials continue to drag their feet on the issue then bike rides should be organized more than once a month.

  33. […] you’ve had enough, but it’s always fun to see where it will lead. Check out their Do’s and Don’ts page for an idea of what you’re getting yourself […]

  34. Pon says:


    I love Sf Critical Mass very much!
    I always join the event, but I never reach to the top of the group.
    By the way, I’m always curious that who leader is and how to know who the leader is.
    Can anyone tell me about this?

    Thanks! 🙂

  35. There is no leader on Critical Mass. In recent years, the route has been decided by the people who do ride at the front. If you ride up to the front yourself, you’ll see that there is an ongoing conversation about which direction to take. It helps to have a very loud voice and a clear idea of where you would like to go!

  36. Britton Barrett says:

    I have always been inspired by this bike ride that I really want to start one in Denver for next month! Besides talking to everyone and getting ahold lots of people, does anyone have any other suggestions?

  37. Glenn says:

    I am a biker many days of the week commuting via caltrain. However it makes me furious when I see a bunch of rotten apples act inappropriately. This has also happened to me while driving in SF. It’s because of these acts that I do not support critical mass. This person should be charged and critical mass NEEDS to focus on the goals, do’s and don’ts

  38. shari says:

    Wow – based on the youtube posted about the attack on the zip car, I’d say Critical Mass needs to address the issue. But that would require some sort of reflection on how a good chunk of those who participate purposely want to just be a-holes. Sorry, I’m a cyclist, but I’ve seen how folks ride in San Francisco, and I actaully feel for the motorists.

  39. Jennifer says:

    I have just watched the critical mass incident that took place in San Francisco – cyclists going against traffic and then several cyclists bullying a driver. When the driver flees a cyclist smashes the car several times with a u-lock, including the driver-side window. have been living and riding in SF for over 13 years and, indeed, it is a daily struggle to establish peace between me and the cars – but I work at it by being a good cyclist. I believe critical mass organizers need to do more than denounce this type of action. Mob behavior is never acceptable. If I was in that car I would have been scared for my safety and would have tried to flee as well. And, though I do not wish to derail my statement, I would like to point out, that if these aggressive white male cyclists were instead, young African American men, there would have been police involvement and likely arrests for disorderly conduct. Boys will be boys just doesn’t cut it. This current behavior is a scare on San Francisco’s Critical Mass activities. Critical mass organizers must focus more effort on cultivating cyclist ambassadors.

  40. Tim says:

    The guy on the bike rode in front of her car on purpose. She never hit him. If this is how you show people bicycles matter. Your idiots. I ride my bike to work, and crap like that makes me and all other riders look bad.

  41. Amy S(last name below in email) says:

    I follow all rules to protect our city bicyclists: give bikes the lane and follow far behind, pass by over three feet to the side, never open a car door without ensuring no bike is in the bike lane, keep my head on a swivel looking for bikes when I am driving. I travel to Europe frequently, especially cities like Amsterdam–and would love to see organized separate safe bike lanes to enable true bike commuting. But the actions of some riding as Critical Mass are sorely trying my sympathy with the Critical Mass cause. There are multiple YouTube videos of critical mass surrounding a lone woman in a zip car in the Marina. Not following your own dos and don’ts.

    WRONG MESSAGE IN YOUTUBE VIDEOS: All your bicyclists aren’t in proper gear–no reflective tape anywhere to be seen. No lights on the bikes. Laws still APPLY to bicyclists, you have to help us see you. Should we drive cars around at night without headlights? Critical massers are riding down the WRONG side of the road. Critical mass isn’t a permitted protest, you must share and not shut down a road. You must follow traffic laws.

    MARINA ZIP CAR INCIDENT: Some Critical massers surround a lone women in her zip car. She is traveling with traffic laws on the right side of road in a car rented by the hour (in the spirit of CM) with her DOG in the back seat. How is she supposed to take a dog to a vet? .Critical massers on the wrong side of the road stopped and surrounded her. Screamed at her. Followed her. Blocked her. Assaulted her, threatened her and vandalized her property pounding on her car with bike locks. It is all on multiple videos damaging the name of critical mass. And no, no one buys that she ran over a bike. She was trying to drive legally in a lane. She first tried to back up and away. She was followed and surrounded. Then she was inching forward to escape that hostile situation. Any bikes placed so close to her car she can’t move a few inches the bike owner damaged, not her. I doubt most involved in critical mass support this behavior, but no critical masser is on the video stepping up to stop the behavior. Failure to stop it is an endorsement.

    Detaining someone who clearly wants to leave is kidnapping. Screaming threats is assault. Pounding on her RENTED zip car with your bike locks is vandalism those that are part of the organization and don’t intervene are accessories. As a woman in the city I will be fearful for my safety in the future when I see critical mass. It may be time for the city and police to step in and police the movement d you can’t police yourselves. Check out all the angry comments online. Failure by critical mass to act to stop the behavior may result in a critical mass of angry residents in the city stopping the rides for good.

    Please follow your own DOS and DON’TS. Don’t let the thugs take over and subvert what started as a good idea.

  42. GRISHA 357 says:

    Someday a scared elderly or just plain nervious driver being attacked by one of your bullies is going to panic, hit the gas pedal and leave a “critical mass” of broken bikes and bodies. You’ve become fanatics.

  43. Jim says:

    Why are you still breaking the law at this point? Why are you terrorizing drivers, and breaking every one of your don’ts on these rides? Why are you blocking the paths of pedestrians who have the right of way EVER?

  44. mveit says:

    I do not object to the principles of CM. However, it would be beneficial to everyone to be considerate of the motorists who an option. We do need to get some place (sometimes) especially after a long week spent in the office. We want to enjoy our weekend as well. cross behind us when you can. Mutual respect goes a long way.

  45. Greg Savidge says:

    Mass bicycle gangs, perfect, great for causing people irritation. You guys should really find another outlet rather than blocking traffic for no good reason……..