“The rides are more like the
switchboard operator that have allowed me to connect to
people. They helped me find a community that I could socialize
with and enjoy the getting there… and you realize
the getting there is as much fun as being there.”
(Gin Kilgore: Transportation Planner for
the Chicago Area Transportation Study)
Critical Mass is unique because it is the event, not an
organization or institution, that serves as the movement’s
structure. When asked “what is Critical Mass”
at the June ride, Chicago Critical Mass Participant Sarah
Kaplan responded “Critical Mass is the ride, but it’s
also a very good forum to do other things, they have a lot
of enthusiasm to organize different events.”
The actual ride is a node for progressive political
and social agendas shared by many of the Mass participants,
and the biking sub-culture.
your mouse over each of the following gallery images, click,
hold and drag your mouse to explore
the rooms of the show).
In February of 2002, over a hundred people rode across
icy city streets for about 9 miles. This ride ended at a
party in a gallery filled with art made by CCM participants.
This showing was put together by several participants of
Critical Mass who got together artwork from many other Mass
participants and other artists, The art displayed either
critiques ‘car culture’ or celebrates ‘bike
culture (explore the “CCM Art Show” on the CD-rom).
This event typified the many social gatherings that are
spawning from the main event.
The Critical Mass Art Show, also promoted on flyers as
the Annual Anti-Auto Show Art Show, opened after a group
of about 30 bicyclists protested the Auto Show at McCormick
Place. Several hundred cyclists, artists and activists crowded
into Heaven Gallery in Wicker Park, for the opening celebration
of bike art. Puppet shows, music and performance art were
also shared on this night .
The displayed panoramas were taken at the gallery the Thursday
evening before the February CCM ride. Volunteers gathered
to assemble the Deraileur, the monthly 'unofficial' CCM
Zine; and to discuss strategies for making the mass more
fun and meaningful. (You can see people assembling the Deraileur
in the background of the panorama of Room 1 pictured at
Anyone could contribute art to the show. Three active mass
participants, Travis Culley, Cathy Haibach and Sarah Kaplan
organized the Show.
They request on the show's promo that submitted art "reveal
the internal flaws or costs of auto-dependent living or
to propose the virtues of auto-independent living (quietude,
cleanliness, gracefulness, ease of operation, safety, simplicity
of design, character, friendliness, sexiness--whatever)."
To view art more carefully, CCM web-master Jim Redd has
of each work of art on the CCM web site.
Gallery was set up on Friday Feb.
8th, where space was claimed by artists on a first come
first serve basis. The February ride ended at the gallery
where over 100 cyclists once again enjoyed the space, art,
beer and each other till around mid-night.
From the event Critical Mass, several side projects have
developed including Break the Gridlock, Bike Winter, Cycling
Sisters, an ‘unofficial’ CM publication: The
Derailleur, Critical Mass happy hour, a Critical Mass Art
Show, poetry reading, Critical Mass/Bike Winter Film Festival,
list-serve discussion groups and even a Critical Mass calendar.
Friendships are forged at these events. These projects,
like the ride, are creating an active cycling sub-culture,
while also promoting biking as a viable form of transportation
in Chicago. Other rides are also promoted and organized
on the list-serve such as the Anti-Car Ride, St. Rat Parade
(intending to crash the St. Patrick’s Day parade),
and the summer “Top-Freedom” ride (organized
by several CCM women). Information on most side projects
are discussed over the CCM list-serve and can also be found
on the unofficial Critical Mass Web page at http://www.chicagocriticalmass.org.
Several of the side-project’s have their own Web pages
that can generally be accessed through a link on the Chicago
Critical Mass Web page. A core group of about 40 people
drive the side projects. However, this group is somewhat
fluid. According to the core riders and Web page, newcomers
are welcome and can assume leadership roles by volunteering.
Critical Mass however, draws far more people. The Friday
ride, CM, is the defining force of the movement.