20th Anniversary of Critical Mass, The Propaganda
I've participated in a few Critical Masses in my day. I did my first one in Madison, WI back in the booze infused glory days of college. It was a pretty small affair with a dense concentration of hippies. After moving to San Francisco I got to experience the event in its purest and orignal form. And on September 28th of 2012 the event will be celebrating its 20th anniversary, complete with a week of events and awesome promotional material like the attached poster, designed by local illustrator and muralist, Mona Caron. She also designed the 15th anniversary poster, which got a boatload of attention and it seems like she went with the same theme for the 20th design. Except now it looks like the hot chick from the first poster had a kid, a lot can happen in 10 years.
Personally, I like critical mass. But it's definitely an extremely polarizing event, the majority of people who know about it either LOVE it or HATE it, kind of like Nickelback, country music, the Confederacy and Jimmy Carter. There is NO middle ground. Any driver unfortunate enough to ever been ensnared in the Masses' tentacles of gridlock will have an extremely strong opinion, especially if they had to be somewhere by a certain time. Some people argue the hate created by the event does more harm than good to the original mission of improving bicyclists' rights.
While that may be true to some extent, it sure is fun to piss off car dwellers off as you ride by them. The glee and freedom you feel inside as you look at their angry faces, trapped in their own portable prison cell is really satisfying. It's possible that I'm biased since I don't have a car, and I have a certain dislike for cars in general.
The fact that cyclists' have a certain camaraderie is what makes the event really enjoyable, and is something most car drivers will never experience. You don't give a nod of acknowledgment to someone while passing them coming the other direction while driving do you? The automobile has really created a terrible situation for the world. Sure it gives people a lot of freedom to go where they please, but it was also a driving force in the creation of suburbs, smog, commuting, our dependency on Oil and the plethora of problems that go along with that. In Europe there are many countries where the majority of the population rides their bicycle as a main form of transportation. It's not impossible, just go to Belgium or Denmark.
Driving is a such a monotonous activity that being jarred into consciousness, even an angry consciousness by something like Critical Mass is a good thing. Even if a handful of people question their hour long commute or the fact that they drove their car to an office only a few miles away, then I consider the event a success.
So, on September 28th, 2012, I'll have my trust steed out and ready to rock and my middle finger cocked for any motorist who really wants to throw down.