Last week was the twentieth anniversary of Critical Mass, a spontaneous group bike ride that happens on the last Friday of each month. The popular Critical Mass rides began right here in San Francisco, and have already spread to hundreds of different cities across the globe. Now millions of people participate in these fun free events worldwide, temporarily turning our urban streets and thoroughfares into an endless sea of bikes.
Last Friday evening, as I was pedaling down Market Street I encountered hoards of other bicyclists heading toward the Ferry Building, where the monthly ride begins. Thanks to years of hard work by many dedicated sustainable transit advocates and groups like the SFBC, San Francisco’s bike infrastructure has greatly improved in the last decade; more people are riding bicycles for everyday transportation now than ever before.
As often happens during these monthly bike events, I ran into a number of old pals that I had not seen in ages, and also met lots of friendly new people as I was biking. Participating in Critical Mass always makes me feel excited to be alive, and reminds me how beautiful and powerful something as simple as riding a bicycle can be.
Critical Mass has become such an important cultural event here in the city, that it draws many incredibly diverse types of people and families. If you have never participated before, I highly recommend getting on your bicycle and joining the fun ride. This is how San Francisco Critical Mass describes the origins of the exuberant monthly event:
“On the last Friday of September, 1992, a group of San Franciscan cyclists showed up on Market Street for the first ever Critical Mass. This leaderless ride became a monthly ‘organized coincidence’, and in the years that followed, spread around the world. Celebrating a shared sense of rediscovering urban spaces, Critical Mass riders cross borders and find common cause to have a good time on foot-powered wheels. These uplifting rides also challenge the use of city streets and the domination of cars and oil in our transportation system.”
Also, please remember that bicycles do not disrupt traffic, bikes are traffic. Here are more photos taken during the huge Critical Mass event that took place in San Francisco last week: