Pitiful Mass

The meek and mild will protest as usual, but it has to be said:

Critical Mass is a bicycling event typically held on the last Friday of every month in over 300 cities around the world.[1] While the ride was originally founded in 1992 in San Francisco with the idea of drawing attention to how unfriendly the city was to cyclists,[2] the leaderless structure of Critical Mass makes it impossible to assign it any one specific goal. In fact, the purpose of Critical Mass is not formalized beyond the direct action of meeting at a set location and time and traveling as a group through city or town streets on bikes.

A whole gang of us went on the Prague version of Critical Mass last night – the “cyklojizda”. Disappointing, in a word. To start with, they organize the thing to start at 6pm on Namesti Jiriho z podebrad – which is super, if the school bell rings at 5:45, they let you out of the turkey farm early, or if you live on JZP and your mom agrees to wake you up. What about people who have actual jobs who ALSO ride their bikes and are concerned with the state of road safety and cyclist awareness in the city? Aren’t these the people we are trying to reach? Or is Critical Mass really just an anxious bench for the benefit and theatrics of the converted?

After about 45 minutes (during which time we covered maybe 4 kilometers and actually gave way to people WALKING SAUSAGE DOGS faster than us bikers,) a few of us gave up and split. The near-manic level of indecision in effect was contagious. We bumbled around a few dark streets, talking about maybe going to a bar or something, before finally slinking off home and, in my case at least, falling asleep in my socks and snorkeling gear.

So what’s the answer? God forbid we risk harming “solidarity” with fellow bikers, but the folks leading that ride were a danger to themselves and others – a good reason to keep cyclists off the road, rather than a demonstration of the benefits of the opposite.

Is it time to organize a “real” critical mass in Prague? Anyone interested?


9 Responses to “Pitiful Mass”

  1. 1 Dula March 22, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Yeah, perfectly right. I tried to join reccurent Prague’s criticall mass twice, but every time I quit after half an hour totally disappointed (we rode cycle path – so critical mass idea was lost at all). So I am really interested.

  2. 2 Matt March 22, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Not quite sure how I came across the blog, but I like the idea of a ride (a night ride would be awesome, too). I’m down, keep me posted.

    • 3 themicah March 22, 2010 at 3:21 pm

      Hey Matt, we usually post every time there’s going to be some sort of ride or game going on. You can also follow the twitter account on the right for quicker updates and last minute stuff! We’re having an alleycat race on the 10th of April, by the way. Thanks for checking out the blog, and hope to see you on one of our rides sometime soon.

  3. 4 honza/saman March 22, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    i totally agree. also i was really dissapointed by the main autumn critical mass being sponsored by vodafone – “how to turn a protest intoi an advertisement”

    • 5 themicah March 23, 2010 at 8:48 am

      Honza, I had no idea it was sponsored! That is absurd, but I have to say that the big CritMass last Autumn was well organized and fun – it included tons of people who normally wouldn’t dare ride in the city and it was a good thing in that sense. What I experienced last week was none of those things. Keep checking in here – the Alleycat in April might be a good time to discuss launching a regular Critical Mass here.

      • 6 saman March 23, 2010 at 10:03 am

        i think that the event at namesti miru was sponsored by vodafone, there was even vodafon stage or something like that. maybe the ride itself was not sponsored and it was only the “street party”, i can’t recall now. but i remember there was some anti-ride organized by a group of people who opposed the sponsorship. but i am really not sure about details. i was on the regular ride because the big ride is always lot of fun. but don’t get me wrong, i still really appreciate their work. i’ve been cycling in prague for some years and the situation is much better than it used to be.

  4. 7 saman March 23, 2010 at 10:05 am

    ok, check this out: http://www.vodafone.cz/o_vodafonu/tiskove_centrum/zpravy.htm?id=630&year=2009
    “Vodafone invites you to a critical mass in Prague and Pardubice”

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