Up to 10,000 Riders Expected for Critical Mass - NBC Bay Area

Up to 10,000 Riders Expected for Critical Mass

Big turnout for Critical Mass 20th anniversary expected.



    Critical Mass Celebrates Milestone

    The massive bicycle ride that happens every month in San Francisco, will mark its 20th anniversary on Friday. Joe Rosato Jr. reports. (Published Friday, Sept. 28, 2012)

    It's going to be a big Friday for bicycle riding. Not so much for driving through San Francisco's downtown (though when is it ever a good time to do that?).

    The 20th anniversary of Critical Mass is expected to draw between 5,000 and 10,000 bike riders to Justin Herman Plaza along San Francisco's Embarcadero, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

    That's about ten times the number of riders who routinely participate.

    "It's going to be a gigantic mess," said Chris Carlsson, a spokesman for the loosely-organized event told the newspaper. "But it is going to be fun."

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    That, of course, depends upon your definition of "fun." Bus commuters and motorists certainly do not view getting stuck in traffic caused by a horde of bicyclists disobeying the rules of the road as fun -- but then again, bicyclists do not consider a smog-filled, car-clogged road harming the air and the urban landscape as fun, either.

    Some feel that Critical Mass's time has passed. When the event began, in 1992, commuting by bicycle was itself a rarity, a sign of protest, the newspaper reported. Since then, bike lanes have been built and going to work on two wheels is routine.

    "Avid cyclist" David Chiu, president of the city's Board of Supervisors, says that "responsible citizen cyclists" and not Critical Mass made the city bike-friendly.

    So what's the point of protesting anymore?

    Fossil fuels aren't getting cheaper, cleaner, or more renewable, for one. Bicycling needs to be "part of the solution" for traffic congestion that will only get worse when "our economy comes back," Chiu said.

    You mean more Zynga popup millionaires? Bring it on.

    In the meantime, motorists are advised to avoid downtown on Friday, the Chronicle reported. Which is good advice, 365 days a year.