An unofficial personal remembrance of the first 2 years of Critical Mass in San Francisco
Date — Estimated #/Destination, Description, Route9/92 — 45/Zeitgeist, exhilarating, surprising, no cops, Market Street to Valencia 10/92 — 75/same as Sept, a bit bigger 11/92 — 100/Cafe du Nord, collective self-valet bike parking, straight up Market. "Established" bike advocates, in town for a conference, found themselves sharing vegetarian grub with messengers and anarchist bike activists at a Church Street eatery. 12/92 — 130/"Save The Reindeer, Ride A Bike!" Santa Claus ride to Zeitgeist via Market
1/93 — 180/"When In Drought Ride A Bike!" to Zeitgeist
2/93 — 200/Department of Public Art installs "The Door Is Always Open" sculpture in Justin Herman Plaza just prior to Critical Mass... ride proceeds as usual, still only a cop or two.
3/93 — 250/"All Tied Up In Traffic?" dozens of ties distributed and worn. First ride diverted from Market, ostensibly to allow Muni to pass, we went right off Market on Sutter, left on Stockton, right on Market, then right again on McAllister, left on Polk and right on Market on up to the Valencia corridor.
4/93 — 350/Lots of new people showing up, "Ban Cars on Market and Smell The Flowers" with flowers decorating many bikes, people dressed for Spring, "spontaneously" announced at front of ride that we were heading for Dolores Park. On the way the ride spread out going up the Market hill to Dolores. At Guerrero a motorist rammed into the straggling bikes at the back of the ride when "corking" broke down. A womanís bike was crushed, the carís windows and mirrors were smashed by 30 or more wild-eyed krypto-wielding bicyclists who quickly vanished... The woman and her boyfriend were charged by the police with several counts of battery, charges that werenít dropped until the September trial date arrived. The motorist was characterized by the police as the "victim."5/93 — 300/The First Annual Bar-None BBQ at Dolores Park featured bike-carried grills and potluck food. Major police presence cast a bit of a pall over the ride itself, but it was mellow and self-organization was crisp with good corking and density maintained throughout. 6/93 — 425/In a salute to Gay Freedom Day, Critical Mass went up Market to Castro and turned through the neighborhood and back down 18th to the by-now customary destination of Dolores Park. 7/93 — 500/Mellow ride to Dolores Park overshadowed by 3rd East Bay Critical Mass ending in 63 arrests after a two-exit run down I-80. "Broken Spoke" Critical Mass Ďzine is born, first of three issues appearing this ride. 8/93 — 600/The 1st Tourist Ride around the northern waterfront, through Fishermanís Wharf and up Polk Street, back to Dolores Park via City Hall. 2nd issue of Broken Spoke, appearance of The Bicycle Terrorist. 9/93 — 800/First Anniversary ride takes the "wiggle" up to the east end of the Panhandle opposite the DMV. Big birthday cakes appear and everyone has a piece! 10/93 — 1000/The Halloween ride coincided with the anniversary of the 1929 stock market crash so the route went past the Pacific Stock Exchange. "Corporate Insecurities" distributed. Coincidentally a band of local paganarchists were attempting to "levitate" the stock exchange at 5 p.m. and were enjoying the company of the police TAC squad. When Critical Mass made its second turn around the block, the police became nervous and arrested one guy for shooting a squirt gun and passively resisting their orders. Several bikes were clubbed and the police seemed to be trying various tactics out to see what would offer them greater control of Critical Mass. A rather tense ride was the result, with a group of 50 or so getting temporarily separated by police pincer moves. In the interim weeks between this ride and the next, Victor Veysey decides to go and talk to the police and his xerocratic sheet "Coptalk" was the result. 11/93 — 400/Anticipating possible all-out police repression, CM returns to its reliable (if a bit dull) Market St. route and ends in an indoor party at Komotion on 16th St. in the Mission district. The police are utterly mellow and cooperative, apparently because of the informal discussion between Victor and the officers in charge of policing CM. 12/93 — 650/"Window Shopping Tour" loops through Embarcadero, Union Square, past SF Centre and COSTCO all the way to a pleasant night gathering in Dolores Park. 1/94 — 700/National Kazoo Day ride: Union Square, Tenderloin, Polk, City Hall, Mission, Castro, Duboce Park. Inaudible kazoos, alas. 2/94 — 700/Full moon at Kirby Cove (north side of Golden Gate). Market to midtown, Polk gulch to northern bayshore, Presidio to GG Bridge. Major freak out by police, heavy harassment and uncooperative antagonism, trying to make our trip to the GG Bridge as unpleasant and undesirable as possible. Only CM arrest for allegedly blocking the intersection on Polk Street. Five jurisdictions spent untold thousands preventing the "crime" of hundreds of bicyclists using the bike right-of-way on the west side of the bridge to a gathering at Kirby Cove in the GGNRA. In spite of dozens of police claiming the cove was closed, about 50 of us made it all the way and had a lovely evening drinking Irish coffee under the balmy fog-shrouded moonlight. Twelve camped out at Hawk camp in the Headlands that night and the next morning were quizzed by rangers who had been searching all night for the "illegal" campout of hundreds of outlaw bicyclists! 3/94 — 800/South of Market wiggle, route was blown early and often as we weaved all over the place, north and south around SOMA, back to City Hall, then south to 16th on the way to Dolores Park. 4/94 — 550/COWABUNGA! Surfís Up! Ride to Ocean Beach. 5/94 — 600/Candlestick Park/Giantís game. 200 or so make it to the gates to Candlestick before stopping in a weird bike traffic jam. Finally 40 or so go in to the game, locking bikes all over the light standards. Really inspiring patriotic fireworks show after the Giants won it for us. Never would have made the connection between the Moon landing and the history of baseball, but there you go. Weird things happen on Critical Mass rides. 6/94 — 1450/Incredibly we rode through midtown and up the west side of Russian Hill so we could all go down the red brick Lombard Street — 800 or more made it up and over and the ride continued on very high energy through the Stockton tunnel back to Market, eventually wiggling up to Sharon Meadows in GG Park. 7/94 — 1250/The Sausalito ride via North Beach and the Marina District, over 300 ferrying back to SF. Special kudos to the Golden Gate Transit workers who were very easy-going and friendly as they jammed 169 bicycles on the 7:20 ferry. Another gorgeous ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, this time with less police trauma. 8/94 — 900/A mellow ride which blew its route in favor of going up the Haight Street Hill (Ridiculous!) and circled around by the Cliff House on up to Sutro Gardens overlooking the ocean. Spectacular sunset, no fog, warm breezes greeted us. 9/94 — 15,000/(Whoa! Wait just a second there pardner, how do you know what happened?) After a unprecedented blessing from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a circuitous route lands us in a wild outdoor party by the bay with live music and free silk-screening. Itís held in a stump of street recently renamed for the San Francisco supervisor who in 1964 cast THE deciding vote against building the Panhandle-Golden Gate Park Freeway from the Fell St. offramp all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. Thanks Terry! 10/94 — 47,650/Bigger and crazier and more political than the limp Bay to Breakers, wild costumes and pointed humor animate a huge Critical Mass as it proceeds to the Halloween party in the Castro district before careening in dozens of directions as major clots of bicyclists head home and find hundreds of others "going their way."
11/94 — 78,942/Itís such an unpredictable and huge social phenomenon that the newly elected officials promise to enact bicycle improvements immediately. The vast monthly gathering of bicyclists is beginning to reshape all kinds of conversations, ideas, plans, and possibilities. °Vamonos!