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What's The Muss About Mass?

by David Hoffman

“What do you think of Critical Mass?” Over the years, I’ve been asked this question hundreds of times.

My introduction to Critical Mass was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania sometime in 2002. At that time I was busy building the local bicycle advocacy coalition, Bike Pittsburgh. Most of the work that I was doing to promote bicycling within the City was being done in partnership with local government agencies such as the Port Authority (transit), the Mayor’s Office and members of City Council, and the local Metropolitan Planning Agency. I desperately wanted to have Bike Pittsburgh recognized as a legitimate organization that could and would work with local government to make Pittsburgh a better place for bicyclists. Everyone kept asking me what I thought about Critical Mass, and if Bike Pittsburgh supported it. The naked agenda behind this question was simple: was I willing to work within the “system,” or was I one of