Ten years ago some lovers of those two wheel transportation vehicles we commonly call Bikes met at various cafes all over the City and County of San Francisco and decided to make a statement. Bikes should rule the streets of San Francisco even if it was for a few hours.
Cars and other heavy duty vehicles had ruled the streets for too long and those driving them had often violated simple rules - often jeopardizing those that rode Bikes and more often even daring to hurt them and sometimes killing the riders of two wheelers.
Some of those armed behind their wheels but more importantly armed safely in their four-wheel vehicles - may say that some BIKERS do not follow road etiquette. No one is perfect but given the usual circumstances and the practical reality of the facts - the BIKERS have suffered more simply because they have NOT had a better advantage of the circumstances. They have less protection than those who safely sit behind the wheel in their cars and other heavy-duty vehicles.
San Francisco has been open to many suggestions and this idea of "Critical Mass" did not have any open blue plan, San Francisco Police Department went of the offense. The Bicycle Coalition was formed and the Coalition was determined to win. If cars and other four wheelers could rule the roads and streets - hurt, kill, pollute, and more - what was wrong giving space to Bikes and Bikers who were just moving from one point to another. On their way to work, to perform some of the many chores all or us have to perform. Bikes do not pollute and what is evident most Bikers are friendly. We also have those who take Public Transportation and those who take Public Transportation seem to be on the side of the BIKERS.
It was great fun looking forward to that Friday of the month when the organizers of "Critical Mass" took to the Street for one long run with thousands joining - ruling the streets of San Francisco and making a clear statement. " We Bikers rule and the Streets of San Francisco which also belong to us". Market Street and Critical Mass go hand in hand and will be the through fare, which made history.
Hundreds of fans and those who had no idea what was happening - especially visitors from all over the world were totally amazed that San Franciscans permitted " Critical Mass". I would often explain to those confused onlookers what " Critical Mass " was all about.
Market Street gave a glimpse of the first runs of Critical Mass and it was fun watching many of my good friends take a stand for what was RIGHT moving along with a powerful weapon like a BIKE to make a simple statement that the authorities found very difficult to understand. Behind the scenes some of us worked with the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor to give the BIKERS a forum to express themselves.
The authorities were shocked that the BIKERS were not only good at logistics but had more common sense than the politicians and those that welded authority- who had no sense of practical reality. Cars and other vehicles pollute and the world knows that. Bikes were not harmful at all. BIKES are clean and provide all the requirements for easy mobility and are environmentally very friendly.
It was fun getting YAKI and WILLIE see light at the end of the tunnel. At last power brokers were dealing with a constituent that was powerful and determined to fight for their rights. The rest is HISTORY. So many joined the Coalition that the Nation acknowledged the " Critical Mass " movement and the world respects San Francisco for the stand it took.
San Francisco is not a big city but it is a city with many hills and some areas like the Financial District and South of Market Area, which is somewhat flat. One can use one's bike to move quickly and perform one's day chores with practically no expense. We all know that parking is very expensive down town - if you park your car for a couple of hours - paying $20 and above is a norm. Plus all the gas and the possibility of accidents and the car being broken into - are all real possibilities.
Many years ago a genius invented the " Cable Car " it was one of the most ingenious modes of travel. Even today many engineers marvel at our "Cable Cars" and the machinations behind the scene that make them work. I like the Cable Cars because they do not create pollution - much like the Bikers and the Bikes are a "clean" mode of travel.
I know thousands who participated September 27, 2002 the tenth anniversary of "Critical Mass". The local, national, and international press covered Critical Mass and rightly so.
Among the many riders who participated was David Erickson my good friend. He busted his butt and took some great photographs - enjoy: http://www.monkeyview.net/id/56/criticalmass2002/index.vhtml.
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