Critical Lisa – A Bicycle Journey

Hello, my name is Lisa and I’m a bicycle riding dork.       bikeybikey

A year ago, hubby and I headed down to ride Critical Mass as we had done many years ago.  The glory days of joining other like minded bike freaks filled my head full of joyous whoops.  To have a bike between my legs and wind beneath my wings is the thing that I look forward to.  Always.  This is the closest to flying that I can get.  This is what freedom feels like to me.

What I didn’t take into account was that only 4 riders showed up.  The few and the dedicated Critical Mass riders.  One of the riders told me what happened.   It was more than apathy, it was riders felt lost and leaderless.  People got busy and forgot what riding meant to them.  The community that other cyclists bring to each other.

The ride was fun.  We quickly made friends and at the end of the ride, I vowed to bring Critical Mass in Seattle to what it used to be.  That was September 2016.

For those who are are unfamiliar with Critical Mass.  It is currently one of the largest group rides that happen around the world.  It is also disorganized and often seen as  a cycling civil disobedience action.  Because of the nature of this disobedience, there is no “leader”.  There has been however organizers and groups organizing this effort.

Critical Mass is a cycling event that happens the last Friday of the month.  Usually around 6 pm.  There is a set location for each city.

What I love about Critical Mass is the spontaneous nature of the ride.  There really is no set destination.  It is more about the process.  The journey.

I experienced Critical Mass in San Francisco in the summer of 1996.  World Cycle Messenger Championship was also happening that summer.  Critical Mass just happen to coincide with the Cycle Messenger Championship.  I had the privilege to ride shoulder to shoulder, wheel to wheel with tens of thousands of cyclists.  All cyclists.  Messengers, commuters, bmx and mountain bikers.  Young and old.  That summer changed my attitude about cycling and cycling advocacy.


I envisioned something like this happening in Seattle.

I reached out to members of Critical Mass.  Networked with past organizers and picked the brains of other Critical Mass organizers across the country and world.  What did they do to have ridership happen.  What I learned is this.

Dedication and consistency.  It takes someone to take up the Critical Mass flag and lead them through the rough patches.  Rome was not built in a day and I had a lot of crazy ideas to build up ridership.

October was just around the corner and with October comes Halloween.  Costume party was what I had in mind.

So how does one promote a public event?  A cycling event that has had a history of “civil disobedience” and associated with a bunch of dirty cyclists and messengers?  Well, technically, all cyclists get dirty.  There is no way around that.  Bike grime, traffic, dirt happens, shift happen.  😀

So does the freedom of riding like the freaking wind and feeling the wind take your breath away.

My goal is to create a bridge where all cyclists are welcome.  Regardless of labels.  Bring all cyclists together to form a community of like minded cycling freaks. Commuters, messengers, mountain bikers, bmx, low riders….make it appealing to everyone regardless of what bike they ride.  It is after all the intent of Critical Mass to er “mass”?

With the help of my daughter’s friends aka cheap and starving teen artists, I got flyers created and went and distributed around Seattle.

It’s not about the art, it’s about the message.  Promoting the hell out of the event.  Spreading the good word of riding through the community.

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