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Critical Mass

Critical Mass rides generally take place after the work day on one Friday of every month (usually the last). Rides meander at the will of the pack and last as long as riders keep riding. Check with your local CM ride at www.critical-mass.org for more specifics about start time and place.

Critical Mass is an inclusive worldwide movement to promote cycling as a means of transportation. Its roots are in environmentalism, fitness, politics, economics, practicality, you name it. Critical Mass is an organization in the sense that bike rides take place at a generally agreed upon place and time. The rest is pretty disorganized. The result is part rally, part demonstration, part protest, part urban scenic stroll.

The name Critical Mass reportedly comes from the Chinese practice of waiting for a critical mass of cyclists to arrive at a busy intersection before the cyclists have enough power and authority to stop car traffic and push through the intersection. In one sense it's very disruptive. Then again, it doesn't take long for the bikes to dwindle and the cars to reassert their authority again. (Obscure trivia: This practice is detailed in the documentary Return of the Scorcher. The Scorcher was a cycling publication, "A Hot Paper for Hot Cyclists," that featured the first Schwinn bicycles in the 1890s.)

In practice Critical Mass often works in exactly this way. The larger the group of bikers, the harder we are to ignore.

So, come be a part of something. Critical Mass is for everyone at every skill level or political ideology. Come meet people in your community. Come celebrate biking. Come ride with us.

Critical Mass Etiquette
- Confused bystanders are often greeted with shouts of "Happy Friday!" This greeting is often used as a cryptic explanation to pedestrians and drivers that ask, "What is this?" Feel free to stop and chat with the uninformed for a few moments to fill them in while the ride meanders on by. Critical Mass succeeds when everyone understands our mission: more bikes, less traffic.
- "Let the busses go!" Busses are part of the solution. They do not count as traffic. Critical Mass riders should yield to mass transit vehicles even if this means breaking up the group. The front will wait for you. If you are the only cyclist that stops for a waiting bus, feel free to yell out to the pack, "Let the busses go!"
- If you want the ride to go somewhere, go to the front of the pack and make the suggestion to no one in particular. See if you can get consensus. On the other hand, many rides follow a route determined by vote before the start time.

Watch the 45 minute documentary We Are Traffic on Google video.

Like all things radical Critical Mass began in San Francisco. Chris Carlsson and Jim Swanson, two of the founders, passed out flyers for the Commute Clot that was held on September 26, 1992. Some months later, the group watched the Return of the Scorcher documentary and the ride has been named Critical Mass ever since.

Minneapolis, MNLast Friday of the month, 5:00Loring Park
St. Paul, MN1st Friday of the month, 5:30The park at Summit and Mississippi Blvd

Submit details for a ride to Cutter@Re-Cycle.com.
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