Critical Mass is
a monthly bicycle ride to celebrate cycling and to assert cyclists'
right to the road. The idea started in San Francisco in
September 1992 and quickly spread to cities all over the world. This
site attempts to be the most complete guide to all Critical Mass
rides around the globe.
Critical Mass has a different flavor from city to city --
there's a big variety in size, respect of traffic laws (or lack
thereof), interaction with motorists, and intervention by police. So
if you want to know more about Critical Mass, you'll really need to
find out what your local ride is like. For those who must know more
right now, here's a link to Chicago CM, which I suppose is a "typical" CM ride, if there is such a
Critical Mass has no leaders, and no central organization
licenses rides. In every city that has a CM ride, some locals
simply picked a date, time, and location for the ride and publicized
it, and thus the ride was born.
CM is an idea and an event, not an organization. You
can't write to "Critical Mass" -- certainly not by writing to me.
CM is intended to be a celebration, not an opportunity to cause trouble. Those who want to try to tie up traffic as much as possible and be confrontational with motorists are missing the point. We can assert our right to the road without being rude about it. Focus on the ride, not on the cars that also happen to be on the road.
Don't have a CM in your city?
Then start one!
Statement about the July 2008 Seattle
The bike of Tom Braun. The
motorist ran over Braun's bike and
Braun himself before being "attacked"
Did you read or see in the
news that Seattle Critical Mass riders beat up a
motorist without provocation? Then allow
us to shed some light on what really happened. And
while we're at it, we'd like to encourage you not
to believe everything you see in the news.
According to numerous witnesses, the driver
revved his engine and intentionally drove into a
crowd of cyclists, successfully hitting two of
them. That's when the cyclists trashed his
vehicle and one cyclist hit him. One can certainly
argue that the cyclists' reaction wasn't justified,
but before doing so, it's necessary to understand
why they acted the way they did -- even if you
believe it was wrong. All the people who have been
yelling at me by email that cyclists "beat up an
innocent motorist" don't seem to realize that
there's a big question as to whether the driver was
really innocent. There is no question that he
plowed through the crowd, hitting cyclists and
their bikes. The only unanswered question is
whether that action was truly accidental, which is
what the driver claims -- though that's kind of
hard to believe.
Please note that this very same month,
NYC police officer intentionally pushed a cyclist
over onto the ground. The result was that the
cyclist was charged with attempted assault
and resisting arrest, and held for 26 hours. How
could the police do that? Simple: They didn't know
there was video of the incident. So they could
easily tell an all-too-gullible public that the
cyclist was the one who attacked. This has
ramifications for the Seattle incident: Without
video, the media freely reported that the motorist
was attacked, without mentioning that he
intentionally mowed down some cyclists first.
similar incident happened in Austin,
Texas seven years ago. An impatient motorist
plowed through a crowd of cyclists, knocking one
cyclist down, crushing two bikes, and nearly
killing people, before crashing his car into
another car. He then got out of his car and threw a
cyclist's bike to the ground. At that point the
bike's owner punched the driver, once. And how did
the media report this? The local daily reported
that a driver was beaten up by cyclists for no
reason. They didn't even attempt to find out
what really happened. The local alternative weekly
was a little better, printing a driver's letter
defending the motorist, but being reluctant to
publish my own letter explaining how the
motorist lunged his vehicle into a throng of
cyclists ... until I was able to produce a
video of the event. Had no video existed, likely
the incident would continue to have been viewed the
same way the one in Seattle is, with the cyclists
as the lone aggressors and the driver being a
completely innocent victim.
Anyway, as for the Seattle incident, there is
certainly plenty of blame to go all around.
- The media, for the sloppy reporting
that made it seem like cyclists beat up an
innocent motorist without provocation.
- The public, for buying that
misreporting hook, line, and sinker, believing
that because it was in a newspaper or on TV it
must be true.
- The driver, who according to numerous
witnesses intentionally ran over two cyclists.
(The Stranger #1,
- The angry drivers who have been emailing
me personally, blaming me for the cyclists
who assualted the driver (which makes as much
sense as my blaming the people emailing me for
crimes committed by completely different
drivers, on some other part of the planet).
- The Critical Mass cyclists who
thought it was a good idea to assault a motorist
and trash his vehicle -- even though the driver
may have tried to kill some of them.
Let me address #3 in more detail here, as on
open letter to Critical Mass participants:
I realize that when someone threatens
your life with a motor vehicle you feel angry.
But that doesn't mean it's a good idea to take
the law into your own hands. Remember, the whole
world is watching what you're doing. If you give
a motorist a black eye, no matter how richly you
think he deserved it, you also give Critical
Mass and bicyclists in general a black eye.
You're ambassadors for Critical Mass and for
bicyclists. And when an incident like this
happens, a few violent cyclists have irreparably
damaged us all. It doesn't matter that most
Critical Massers around the world or even on
this particular ride were non-violent.
Because of this incident, no matter how few
cyclists were actually responsible, the result
is that thousands of people now think of
Critical Mass as a violent gang of thugs. I know
this because of the torrential amount of hate
mail that's been pouring in to me personally
since the incident (even though I wasn't there
and didn't endorse what happened), and from all
the comments on message boards all around the
Internet that say the exact same thing.
Let me repeat part of this: It doesn't
matter who is right. Even if you're
convinced that the response was justified
because the motorist started the violence,
that's not how the media is going to report it,
and now how the public is going to see it. It's
not fair, but what are you going to do about it?
(Well, you can be aware of that, and keep your
actions in check since they're likely to be
misreported and widely despised even if they're
If you're on a Critical Mass ride, and a
driver tries to run over some cyclists (or even
does so successfully), detain him and call the
police, but do nothing else.
I call on Critical Mass riders to be
extra-courteous to all other road users in the
Energy & Pollution
Oil Crisis is coming. Life as we know it is
about to change, forever. Believe it. (More: Guardian article, PeakOIl.com,
After the Oil Crash)
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Overconsumption of oil means that more people will
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true cost of gas. Americans
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concern for the future, it's happening right now. (more...)
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for other related costs, the truth is that infrastructure is
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Societal costs of cars
& highways. Our relationship with the
automobile causes pollution, noise, congestion, sprawl, big
expenses, injury, and even death. The cost is greater than
The typical American family
spends almost $8000 a year to own and operate a
car, when you count the car payments, gas, oil,
maintenance & repairs, licenses, parking, and
If you took the money you'd save by getting rid of your
car and invested it you could have $2.3 million by
the time you retired. (more...)
Art Ludwig shows that AAA underestimates the cost of car