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.

A pause eastbound on Palou.
Westbound on Williams, well into the Bayview district.
Happy neighbors marvel as we pass by.

With all the online blather about how much people hate Critical Mass and bicyclists, if you rode along on most of our rides what you actually see are hundreds of bystanders smiling, waving, and cheering. Whenever we go through residential neighborhoods we always get a ton of enthusiastic support from people hanging out of windows, clapping and cheering, and little kids get really excited. Imagine how it changes their imaginations to see thousands of cyclists streaming by laughing, talking, playing music, having a rolling party!

Justin just got back from a summer in Central America… the dad and daughter behind him were enjoying the ride as it rolled by.
Don’t think we’ve ever been in to the Portola neighborhood, long bisected by the 101 freeway, but here we crossed San Bruno Avenue at Bacon.
Bit of a climb but everyone just went on up the hill…

After a couple of turns we ended up on Silver Avenue and rode past that weird massive Evangelical College (what’s that doing in San Francisco anyway?) and made the turn back to the center city on Mission.

Westerly on Silver Ave.
Heading north on Mission crossing I-280 not far from where there was once a trestle carrying a steam railroad across a creek. Check out the kid in the foreground! He rode all the way, as he did last month when we made it up to Twin Peaks!

After going up and over the flank of Bernal on Mission we bombed down the hill and made the turn onto Valencia. I was near home and thinking about peeling off since I figured the ride was heading up to Masonic where that German bicycling tourist was killed a week ago by a drunk driver. I couldn’t quite leave so found myself going down Valencia and suddenly as we passed the Elbo Room and Sycamore Alley, there was some gorgeous brass jazz filling the air. A threesome, probably getting ready to play inside the Elbo Room, was out on the balcony serenading Critical Mass! What a great end to a great ride… one of the best in a long time…

The last notes from the last musician…

3 Responses to “Critical Mass Goes Deep (into the southern neighborhoods)”

  1. Tandem David says:

    Definitely agree, one of the best in a long time. Kudos to the people leading it. Thanks!

  2. Scott says:

    This was my first time going to CM. It was so much fun! I can’t wait until the next one.

  3. Reama says:

    Last month’s ride was fantastic.