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Critical Mass

Bryan's picture

Tomorrow is the last Friday of the month, which means that wherever you live, Critical Mass is rolling out from the center of town at 6:00pm*. Critical Mass is a unique phenomenon, a regularly scheduled ride occuring in most cities that is complely anarchic and unled. The basic idea is one familiar to all roadskaters: when there's one of you, you're playing in traffic; but when there's a hundred of you, you are traffic. CM generally meets up at and leaves from the most obvious point in town (here in Wilmington it's the clock tower in the middle of UNCW's campus), and then rides at a leisurely pace along the major corridors of town, on a route chosen by group consensus. Although in some cities tensions have run high between cyclists and motorists, in the other 99.8% that aren't Seattle, Manhattan, Boston, or one of those, the dynamic tends to be very friendly, with lots of honking and thumbs up as if they're seeing a parade go by (which they essentially are).

So why am I posting this on roadskater.net? Because it's a great opportunity to introduce the cycling community to the idea of roadskating. I alternate each month between skates and bike (gotta keep up my cred with the cycling community, after all) and the times I've done it on skates I have been very well received. Generally they are surprised to see that we are essentially cyclists without bikes and that some of us can do more than flail down the sidewalk at 4mph. Of course, it is essentially a parade pace, and at least in this town is significantly slower than the pace of a social skate weekend like Miami or DC. It is also a great opportunity to skate some roads that you've probably never been able to, as CM tends toward main thoroughfares and such.

So go find out where they meet in your town (being leaderless and organic, that can be tricky, but the bike section of craigslist.org is a good place to check), grab your skates (or your bike, I'm flexible) and GET OUT THERE!!!

 *usually. Some places, such as Charlotte, start later, but most do it at 6:00pm. 

Comments

roadskater's picture

Let Us Know How it Goes at the Wilmington CM Ride

Hey Bryan thanks for the note. I'm not sure how successful CM is in Greensboro (that's not to say it isn't). I think it would matter where they are rolling whether it is considered a parade, traffic or an annoyance. We have had the Ride of Silence here, but I think that's different and police escorted. I take it the CM actively avoids any organization, except for it being so organized as to have a regular time and place, and thus it doesn't seek interaction with the Police? Thanks for letting us know about it. It's good when we can meet cyclists who'll consider us one with them. As long as the whole thing is peaceful and all that of course, ha!
Bryan's picture

Interesting. I did the Ride

Interesting. I did the Ride of Silence here last year and it was not escorted.

CM's ephemeral nature is definitely a plausible deniability sort of thing. That said, there have only been two police interactions when I've been with them, and both have been polite warnings: one because a single rider apparently made an unsafe maneuver (didn't see, don't know), and one because almost nobody in the group had lights. I, of course, being a safety geek, had headlight, taillight, and a dayglow shirt. (Wait till they see how many photons that new dynamo hub cranks out!)

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