Critical Mass Paradox

Critical Mass is a paradox. In Manhattan, there’s nothing but turmoil and in Seattle a knife was pullled during the last one or arrests get made. In Brooklyn, for 3 years now, they’ve critically masssed with no arrests, no tickets, and the NYPD is even called “friendly.” StreetFilms just published a short film on the subject. I’ve only ridden a Critical Mass once, by accident (all kitted up with my race bike, feeling totally out of place) and it was fun and festive with tall bikes, longtail bikes, old schwinns, and everything else.

In Arizona, the next Critical Mass is on July 21st where they’ll meet around 6:30 pm at @ Tempe Beach park and ride to the Lost Leaf Tavern at 5th & Roosevelt. After the mass they’ll alleycat race with the winner taking all in the fixed race. Don’t know if they’re friends or foes with the police there.

Surprisingly, I saw a teaser for an Evening Magazine (of all places), on the alleycats, but it’s not linked yet. For more info on the alleycat in Arizona, email

Comment on the paradox between peaceful protests and ones that turn ugly?


the deal with the knife.

I probably go to about half of the Seattle Critical Mass rides, and I’ve found that I have to be in the right frame of mind to deal with it.  Roughly 2% of those involved on both sides of the fence have serious douchebaggery issues, though to be fair the motorist douchebaggery usually involves blatantly threatening a cyclist blocking their path, and occasionally actually running them over.  The cyclist douchebaggery is usually restricted to some taunting and occasional loogies, which sadly makes me even more angry.

I definitely prefer the other 98% of the CMers, the cyclists who are there to have a good time and be social and jovial, and the motorists and watching pedestrians who enjoy the site of crazy bikes and people having a good time.

Thanks Lee. I didn’t want to be douchelike myself by popping off about Critical Mass. As a whole, it’s meant to be like a moving feast of bikes v. violence, right?

Agree with Lee.  From my experience there is usually a very small percentage of people that are in CM rides that are looking to cause trouble.  From my ride in Brooklyn (and it was my first CM in almost four years) it seems that everyone at Brooklyn Mass is very laid back, just wanting to ride.  I can’t wait until next month, it was nice riding with thru Brooklyn with smiling peeps.

I’ve been riding in the Brooklyn Critical Mass for a few months now and always look forward to them. The vibe is very laid-back, and that’s due in large part to the fact that the cops who accompany us are respectful and protect us from traffic. Most residents get a kick out of watching us ride through their neighborhood.

The one time I did Manhattan CM, back in May, was a nightmare. In Manhattan, the cops surround Union Square, just waiting for bicyclists to take off so they can begin issuing tickets (e.g., parading without a permit, not having a headlight). We became so focused on avoiding the police that not much riding actually happened.

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