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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!

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 thing.

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 incident


The bike of Tom Braun. The motorist ran over Braun's bike and Braun himself before being "attacked" by cyclists.

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, a 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.

A very 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.

  1. The media, for the sloppy reporting that made it seem like cyclists beat up an innocent motorist without provocation.
  2. 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.
  3. The driver, who according to numerous witnesses intentionally ran over two cyclists. (The Stranger #1, #2)
  4. 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).
  5. 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 reported correctly.)

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 coming months.

More info

Energy & Pollution

The Oil Crisis is coming. Life as we know it is about to change, forever. Believe it. (More: Guardian article, PeakOIl.com, and Life After the Oil Crash)

How much energy we use. Overconsumption of oil means that more people will die as more wars are fought over an increasingly shrinking supply. The U.S. alone uses 46% of all the gasoline used in the world. (more...)

The true cost of gas. Americans whine about the "high" price of gas while not realizing what a sweet deal they're getting.

Pollution by cars causes lung cancer, respiratory problems, urban smog, and acid rain. Greenhouse gases emitted by cars causes global warming, which is not just a concern for the future, it's happening right now. (more...)

The True Costs of Cars

Autos on Welfare. While most motorists think that their gas taxes and registration fees pay for the roads and for other related costs, the truth is that infrastructure is financed mostly by general taxes paid by everyone, which means that those who don't drive are subsidizing those who do.

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 we realize....

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 insurance.

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 use. (more...)

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About this site

There is no such thing as an "official" Critical Mass site. CM is an idea, not an organization. Nobody licenses the individual rides, there are no leaders. This site is just a volunteer effort by a guy who tried to put together a helpful directory of all the rides.

Our links & info are only as good as what people send to us. CM rides often die out or change times, and often nobody bothers to let us know. CM webmasters are also notorious for not updating their pages -- and often don't even list meaningful ride dates, times, and locations -- much less a "last updated" date. We can only print what we know. We're not psychic. So the ride you see listed here might be dead or changed. Sometimes we'll link to a very outdated page or a simple archived email message announcing a ride time if that's all we could dig up for that city. You can help by feeding us corrections & new sites when you know about them.

Finally, here's some hate mail we got.

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