Critical Mass - Reclaim the Streets - worldwide
A critical mass is a regularly-happening non-violent direct-action event of bikers to reclaim the streets whereby a big number of people meet to have a bike tour especially using the space dedicated for cars. It aims to reconquer rights and space for bike(r)s and people and address issues e.g. regarding traffic security, the priority of different modes of transport (cars overs bikes), space consumption of cars and also health and environmental issues. It happens in many cities worldwide.
Since the 1950s (or early) cities have been designed for cars. However this dominance has been challenged for ~ 25 years now. A critical mass is a bike ride of a group of people addressing political issues considering the significance of bikes and related issues - the more people participate the better it is. Since the first critical mass in San Francisco in the early 1990s the phenomenon has spread over the world. Except for e.g. a monthly meeting point, like the last Friday of the month, there’s not any central organization. The routes of the tour are chosen spontaneously.
Transformational Measures and Activities
- regularly bike rides of as many people as possible
- just do it
- having fun
- raising awareness on several issues like traffic security, the priority of different modes of transport (cars overs bikes), space consumption of cars and also health and environmental issues
- using very different models of bikes, including tweat bike, tall bikes, cargo bikes, tandems…
ghost bikes are used to make visible if a biker has been injured or killed in an accident with cars
- in many cities critical masses might annoy car drivers but they gained attention for their issues
critical masses contributes to more sensitivity about bike and bike infrastructure in urban planning
Challenges, Opportunities and Transferability
a critical mass cannot be planned top down - the claim for better bike infrastructure and the prioritisation of bikes over cars in traffic planning and space allocation to each transport mode can only be taken seriously