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Critical Mass is a bike ride that draws attention to urban cycling. The idea is that Critical Mass rides, which occur on the last Friday of the month, remind motorists to be aware of bicyclists.

There's a whole vocabulary associated with Critical Mass events. Here are some example from wikipedia:

Bike-lifting (Also known in Chicago as the Chicago hold-up)
Bike-lifting is when a participant raises his or her bicycle in the air. This occurs when an intersection is corked, when a cyclone is occurring, or at any point a participant desires to hold a bicycle in the air.

Corking (described in detail below) is a tactic used to prevent traffic from entering the path of the cyclists.

Cyclones form when the mass begins to circle an intersection. Popular in Chicago's large six-point intersections, cyclones can be used to "mass up" the critical mass, so that it can maintain the density of cyclists necessary to prevent the flow of automotive traffic. The tactic also allows splinter masses time to rejoin the group.

Die-ins are when participants lay down on the ground with their bikes to symbolize cyclist deaths and injuries caused by automobiles.

"Mass up" or "Mass it up"
In the middle or at the end of the group of cyclists, the number of cyclists traveling on the road can grow thin, resulting in dangerous conditions for riders if automotive traffic attempts to cut through the middle of the mass while cyclists are still passing. Participants in some cities will yell "mass up" or "mass it up" in order to tell the front of the group to slow down. Different tactics are used to mass up such as simply slowing down or stopping as well as cycloning.

Splinter mass
Splinter masses are a common occurrence due to the unorganized nature of the event. A splinter mass occurs when a smaller group of the larger critical mass separates from the main mass inadvertently. They often no longer possess a mass that is "critical" enough to stop traffic.

"Massing up" allows splinter masses to rejoin the group.

We have a Critical Mass here in Gainesville, FL that meets last Friday @ 5:30 at Plaza of the Americas on U. of FL campus. Critical Mass dot info has a directory of events.

Has anyone here ever been to one?

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Replies to This Discussion

Helsinki Critical Masses are done for this year, more to come next spring.
The main target has been city planning, to add bike lanes and make the city environment safer to co-exists.
The CM Helsinki has been organized once a month during the summer 2008.
Images from CM Helsinki / 2008

Those Helsinki images give an excellent view of what the city looks like. I particularly like the one above because the sky reminds me of the Dublin, Ireland sky. Thanks for that!

We just got "sharrows" here in one town in Florida. I am glad because I have ridden this road and had cars honk at me. The speed limit on that road is 20 MPH and I was keeping a 18MPH pace!



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