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The most complete directory of Critical Mass rides worldwide

Statement about the July 2008 incident in Seattle.

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As seen on Adbusters and Rage Against the Machine!

The Origin of Critical Mass

The first Critical Mass ride was in September 1992 in San Francisco. There were 48 people. The ride increased in size by about 75% each month so that by the time 1993 came about, Critical Mass had almost 500 riders and was becoming well known among bicyclers in the city--although city officials still hadn't registered its existence. A couple months after that people in other cities started noticing and began other Masses. Also in 1993, San Francisco police and Mayor Frank Jordan noticed us and struggled with how to deal with us. It took until June 1997, when Critical Mass was almost 5 years old, for the "new" mayor Willie Brown to make any special note of us: He proved he had no idea what we were about when he made comments that motivated the big July 1997 ride and police riot.

-- by , 10-31-98

The Story Behind the Name

The name "Critical Mass" is taken from Ted White's 1992 documentary film about bicycling, "Return of the Scorcher". In the film, George Bliss describes a typical scene in China, where cyclists often cannot cross intersections because there is automobile cross-trafic and no traffic lights. Slowly, more and more cyclists amass waiting to cross the road, and when there is a sufficient number of them -- a critical mass, as Bliss called it -- they are able to all move together with the force of their numbers to make cross traffic yield while they cross the road.

What's the philosophy?
What is the ride like?
How many people attend?

Critical Mass has a very 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 the Phoenix, Arizona CM, which I suppose is a "typical" CM ride, if there is such a thing.

Also, here's a 6-30-00 article from San Francisco Gate that sums up Critical Mass well.

How do I start a CM ride in my city?

Check out our guide to How to Start a Critical Mass Ride.

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I was born into a cult.

The Aesthetic Realism Foundation is a small psychological cult in New York city. My grandparents were members, so my mother was born into it, and so was I. Recently I created a website about the cult to get the word out. I hope you'll check it out.

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