Critical Mass

Downtown

I finally did my first Chicago Critical Mass ride, and I’m kicking myself that I’ve been in Chicago this long and never done one. It was soooo much fun.

Critical Mass is advertised as being officially without organization and I got to see that in action as two different routes were proposed, one to Humboldt Park and the other to Oak Park and the mass deciding by a quick vote-by-cheer. Also, I think on average the more committed riders show up earlier, so when it’s time to actually start moving, they’re stuck in the middle of a mass of riders who don’t quite seem to know what to do.

But it all just worked out — the Critical Mass ride seemed to be an example of the wonderful things possible when unorganized but well-intentioned people get together for a common purpose.

I have to admit I was a little surprised at how polite and cheerful the whole thing was. I mean, the ride itself is an aggressive thing — we do stop traffic and hog the road. But everyone was unfailing nice. When a driver stuck in a long line of cars tried to lurch out into bike traffic (one of the, also surprisingly, few openly upset drivers) a young man riding near me called out, “Ma’am, please slow down.” When she replied with a hearty, “Fuck you,” his only response was a repeated, “Please, ma’am, just slow down, please.”

Also, I took a lot of pictures of the freak bikes and the (cough) unusual folks, but what was really impressive was the hundreds (thousands?) of just folks who were out for a nice bike ride.

So, see you at the Daley Plaza the last Friday of the month on your bike. Let’s go for a bike ride!

3 Comments so far

  1. Joseph J. Finn (unregistered) on July 6th, 2006 @ 10:20 am

    See, this is what I don’t get (and I’m all for advocating for better bike lanes, wider streets and all); how do you guts get away without being ticketed/arrested for violating traffic laws?


  2. Bill V (unregistered) on July 6th, 2006 @ 10:35 am

    For one, this event only happens once a month. I don’t see the big deal waiting a couple of extra lights for the bikers to be on their way. I do mind the small percentage that do go out of their way to be rude to drivers. It’s not many but if you’ve ever been on this ride before I’m sure you’ve met some of these not-so-nice riders.


  3. willow naeco (unregistered) on July 7th, 2006 @ 12:37 pm

    Welcome to Critical Mass! You should wear tassels in July — it does wonders on the moods of drivers and others stuck in the traffic jam we create. Thanks for taking a photo…I’ll stand up straight in July so I won’t look so fat. Yuck.



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