Posts Tagged ‘tactics’

Positive Energy Flyer OK!

January 28th, 2010 by hughillustration

Critical Mass confrontation

Everyone complains about bad behavior on Critical Mass. The truth is, it’s only a small minority that are behaving this way.

You can confront any behavior you don’t like. But I have found flyers really work to establish norms that are positive and friendly. So I’ve made a flyer you can print out, read, and if you agree with it’s sentiments, make copies and share them with others before the ride! If you can print a bunch and pass them out yourself, please do!

Click here or the pic below to download the PDF. It’s designed to be printed double-sided and cut in half. Works like a charm!


And here’s the text of the flyer:

Have you been attending Critical Mass in order to harass,
intimidate and disrupt other forms of traffic?

Have you been picking fights with motorists? Blocking traffic for no reason? Giving people the finger? Generally behaving like a self-righteous weenie?

You’re in the wrong place! There is a special ride for you:

The Hypocritical Mass!

The Hypocritical Mass takes place on the 6th Friday of every month at 2:30 a.m. Everyone on that ride believes they are better than others, and they really enjoy “sticking it to the Man” by “gumming up the works”. Take your bike and join them! You’ll be much happier.

Critical Mass, on the last Friday of every month, is different. We’re not out to ruin anyone’s night. We are a positive celebration of bikes, bike culture, and public space. While we assert our right to the road, we do not deny anyone else their right to get where they are going. We’re here to enjoy ourselves, change the world, and make this city great.

We are asking our friends in cars to wait while our party passes — the same way we wait and defer to motorized traffic every other day of the month.

Here’s what we say to motorists and members of the Hypocritical Mass: Join us! Bring your bike, your good energy, a friendly attitude towards people you don’t know, and help us build a city worth living in — a city with clean air, friendly streets, and public demonstrations of pure joy. OK!

How to Help:
The front of the Mass must stop for every red light! This allows the back of the ride to catch up and keeps the ride dense, preventing accidents. When Critical Mass spreads out, problems occur: motorists creep in, things get dangerous, and bad vibes result. The front of the ride has a responsibility to keep it cool for the rest of us!

If you see a fight or confrontation:
Keep moving! Keep positive! Don’t stop and don’t get dragged into some boring argument. If a motorist shouts or honks at you, try this response: “Have a nice night!” Then pedal on. Works every time!

Don’t block traffic unnecessarily!
We’re here to show that we are traffic, not to block traffic! Circling at intersections, riding into oncoming traffic and purposefully trying to inconvenience other is bad tactics, bad politics, and bad karma.

Respect Pedestrians!
The only thing more dangerous than biking in San Francisco is walking. Pedestrians are our friends and allies, and they could use some respect. Let pedestrians pass where possible, and invite them to join us next month!

Who is behind this flyer?
We are concerned riders of Critical Mass. We aren’t the only voice. Make your own voice heard by making a flyer or website and sharing your ideas!

Join us online: •

PS: Check out this flyer that someone else made! The author is unknown to me, it’s a few months old but it hits the mark — and it’s way less verbose than mine!

Bad Tactic: Stalling Buses & Traffic for No Reason

December 21st, 2009 by hughillustration

For some unexplained reason, Critical Mass will from time to time come to a complete halt in an intersection, and the ride will just stand around for a while in the street, blocking cars, busses, pedestrians — really doing nothing but taking the space because we can. Of all the bad tactics we’ve seen over the years, this must be the stupidest. What is the point of this tactic? No one knows. It just happens!

If you’d like a taste of how it feels to be on the other side of this sort of tactic, here’s a video made by a bus rider while he and the other passengers wait for Critical Mass to get off it’s ass and move. (It was posted in the comments to Chris’s recent streetsblog piece.)

Boring, isn’t it?

It’s true that Critical Mass causes delays for motorists and busses and other forms of transportation. But the idea behind Critical Mass is not to delay people for no reason, out of some misguided need to assert our power. The point is that we’re moving, like any other kind of traffic, using public streets to get around like everyone else — except we’re doing it together. As the slogan we’ve been using for years goes, “We’re not blocking traffic, we ARE traffic!”

Well, anyone delayed by in this manner, we’re sorry for the hassle. The sad truth is we have folks on Critical Mass who haven’t thought that hard about the issues.

What Critical Mass Got Right & Wrong

December 21st, 2009 by hughillustration

Chris has a great piece up on streetsblog that encapsulates a lot of the conversations many of us long-time Critical Mass participants have been having. It’s a long-ish, thoughtful discussion of where the ride came from, where it’s been and where it’s going. I’m excerpting a quote here, but if you’re interested in Critical Mass, you should definitely take the time to read the entire piece:

Averaging between 750 and 3000 riders on any given month, the birthplace of Critical Mass keeps going strong, in spite of the total lack of promotion or organizing during this past decade. But many of us long-time riders have been dismayed to see the persistence of silly, aggressive, and counter-productive behavior that makes the Critical Mass experience worse for our natural allies on buses, on foot, and even folks in cars who might join us in the future. Not to mention that it makes it worse for us cyclists too, to the point that many former regulars have stopped riding. Part of the frustration for us long-time riders is that we went through all these issues quite intensively back in the early-to-mid 1990s, and to see them cropping up again is a harsh reminder that we’ve done a piss-poor job of transmitting the culture, the lessons learned, from one generation to the next. Plenty of current Critical Massers were under 5 years old when we started it, and the ride’s culture has been more loudly and consistently transmitted by distorted representations in the mass media than it has by those of us who put our hearts and souls into it for years.

Chris makes a nice plug for our blog, but the truth is that it’s going to take more than internet chat and blog posts to change the culture of Critical Mass. It takes face-to-face communication, and hopefully that’s where all this discussion ends up: in conversations between real people in real space in the public streets of the city, talking about how we can change life for the better.

Link: Streetsblog San Francisco: A Lost Decade for Critical Mass?

A Critical Mass Blog? In San Francisco?

October 27th, 2009 by ccarlsson

Welcome to a new website about Critical Mass in San Francisco. We’ve been around since the beginning and after some early years of publishing Critical Mass Missives and many other flyers, posters, and stickers, we are back to open this online space. Here you will find  a place to discuss what’s happening in Critical Mass, as well as an historical archive and a quick informational site where well-known tactics are easily accessible (and well-known problems have helpful answers). We’d like to host a forum to communicate about Critical Mass as well as the larger dynamics of bicycling in San Francisco

It’s a bit ironic in the home of the dotcom boom a decade ago, and at the epicenter of the Critical Mass bicycling phenomenon, no one has put together a decent website for our town. We decided it was overdue. One reason is because the culture of Critical Mass hasn’t been well transmitted from old-timers to newbies, and we hope to remedy that a bit here. Critical Mass started about 17 years ago, and it’s wonderful and mysterious that it has been such an ongoing event, never missing a month all these years. And of course it has spread to over 400 cities around the world.

Since the conflicts with the City and police in 1997, a tacit truce has dominated the formerly fractious relationship. In the past decade no one has taken a lot of responsibility for orchestrating routes, producing flyers or stickers, or being super involved in corking or leading the ride. Instead, a remarkable spontaneity that has often benefitted from serendipity and good luck, has kept the ride mostly fun and interesting. Nevertheless, a noticeable repetition in the past two years has become a bit tedious.

Do we really need to ride through the Broadway and/or Stockton tunnels EVERY month? Are there really still bicyclists showing up who think it’s cool, or radical, or important, to block oncoming traffic on the opposite side of two way streets? And how boring is it to “circle up” in intersections, pointlessly blocking traffic in every direction? Why is there so little xerocracy now? Essays, arguments, news, etc. have long been absent from the ride… politics? What politics?

We have some simple “Critical Mass Do’s and Don’t’s” that we think are helpful lessons learned from many years of doing this. And we will be hosting a moderated discussion on our blog, where everything is welcome, but we will reserve the right to delete extraneous and hateful material. (If you don’t like our edits, please exercise your 1st amendment right to start your own damn blog.)

We’re committed to a flourishing of intelligent debate and dialogue, and a public process of advancing whatever “success” we can claim for the Critical Mass phenomenon to other, deeper issues too.

Join in!
–Chris Carlsson and Hugh D’Andrade, August, 2009