What it all comes down to, is energy.
Bikes, youth, vigor, fitness, renewable resources, oil, petroleum - it's all a matter of energy and how we choose to use it. We all have the power to change the world. For better or worse, it's all in our hands and what ever way we swing it, is within the power of the person making the decision to decide. In a very distilled essence, this is what Critical Mass is.
that's not what it's about. Critical Mass happens all around the world but, we caught up with it at San Francisco's Justin Herman Plaza where we found out that Critical Mass is about everything... and nothing. For many people, it's about a cause, or a purpose. The ride itself becomes a protest against some greater wrong or perceived societal ill. For these advocates, The Mass becomes a vehicle for spreading their word. For many others it's purely about having fun on a bike. It's sharing a Friday afternoon, catching up with friends, riding a bicycle down the street with hundreds of like minded people. People, who for whatever reason, choose to be there. They are out enjoying a ride on a bicycle, as well as making their point. There you have it. Critical Mass is people enjoying a bicycle ride together.
But is it more than that?
It, whatever that "It" is, professes to be nothing more than a agreement to ride at a certain time from a certain place. Yet, no matter how much"The Mass" professes to be nothing, one is hard pressed not to assign it greater meaning. Literally hundreds, if not thousands, of people all abandon for a while at least, the use of petroleum, the stress of work, and the constraints of their routines. The bicycle unites and renders all ageless within its ubiquitous celebration of the youthful discovery of two wheeled freedom, perhaps this defines Critical Mass?
What is it not?
Critical Mass is not a Friday night at the bar. It is not a long petroleum fueled drive out of the city. It is not a weekend out of town. Rather, it is a jubilant bike ride around your neighborhood. It is a post-technological microcosm of a society that used to include sitting out on the stoop and chatting with your neighbors. Critical Mass is a ride through the neighborhood seeing it in a way you may never have before. Critical Mass is a step back from our hectic lives affording the opportunity to ride socially and talk. Engaging in conversations to solve the world's dysfunction, or to discover the secret ingredient in your neighbor's prize winning, tart yet sweet, crumb crust apple pie. No matter what our personal experience, we can rest assured, that something will come of it, even if "It" professes loudly to be "Nothing."
The only universal truth about Critical Mass is, that it exists! There are no leaders, no control, no ruling body, no organization and no governance. Yet it exists. Yet it continues to grow! For each person, it is something different. Yet, it remains a shared experience. There remains only one way for you to discover what it is about. That is to get on your own self-propelled wheels. Ride The Mass and see for yourself. You will, in all probability, find yourself with a new monthly Friday night ritual.