Visit Today!!!

those lawless radicals that took to the streets in anarchy? Initially, I think I mumbled my answers, or somehow managed to change the subject.
The truth was, I didn’t really know much about Critical Mass. I started asking around.

At the time, Pittsburgh’s Critical Mass was a moderately sized affair. Many of the people who participated in the monthly celebration on two wheels were also connected with the local community bike shop, Free Ride!. For the most part these were intelligent, resourceful, and passionate people. True, there was a healthy distrust of authority and some people had a very earthy funk about them. But most of all, these were simply people that wanted to ride their bike. The monthly Critical Mass was a way to band together, celebrate and ride in relative safety on some seriously hostile streets. I could see where people in government would think that Critical Mass participants were somehow cut from the same cloth that would eventually clothe inmates instead of responsible, law-abiding citizens.

My attitude towards Critical Mass began to change. I was working and riding with people who participated in Pittsburgh’s Critical Mass. I began to meet advocates from all over the country, many of whom also participated in their local Mass. I started to visit other communities and took the opportunity to ride in the local Masses if I was in town at the right time. I began to see Critical Mass as both a tool used by the locals to heighten awareness of bicycle traffic and one that could be used by advocates to open and move conversations about the bicyclists that were using the streets every day.

As Bike Pittsburgh grew and our accomplishments became more visible, my phone started to ring. The media wanted to ask the local “establishment” about Critical Mass, as there had been a sharp increase in the number of participants taking to the streets every month as urban bike culture began to flourish. When Bike Pittsburgh was first getting its legs, local Critical Mass participation was in the low dozens of riders. Less than four years later there could be as many as 200 or more participants, especially during the busy summer months.

Could I comment on Critical Mass? What did Bike Pittsburgh think about the lawless riders that participated in Critical Mass? Did I think that Critical Mass was legal? What was the point of it all? Why did Bike Pittsburgh organize this event every month? (We didn’t, but this was typical of the under-informed media questions that I would get.)
The majority of questions from the media were slanted toward writing unsympathetic articles about Critical Mass, and while Bike Pittsburgh was careful never to directly endorse the ride (we would gladly advertise it as an event in our newsletter and on our website, however), I never felt like I wanted to assist the media in bashing Critical Mass or portraying it in a