Critical Mass returned to Portland last Friday, and by the accounts of those in attendance, not a moment too soon. While mass thrives in cities all over the world, Portland, Oregon hasn’t seen this ride happen in years. An attempt to revive it in 2008 proved limited in success. Yet here we are in the year 2014, Portland is still dominated by motor vehicles clogging the streets, making them unsafe, spewing toxic exhaust into the air, adding carbon to our atmosphere and accelerating a global climate crisis.
While many have pondered exactly why mass died out in Portland, many more have devoted worthwhile energy into building this city’s evolving bicycle culture. Instead of just a single protest ride, we now enjoy hundreds of different annual and monthly rides that cater to just about any theme, niche, or celebration you could imagine. Some even claim we don’t need critical mass anymore, that drivers are already ‘aware’ of cyclists. Those who met Friday in the North Park blocks around the bronze elephant statue clearly disagree.
What started as a small gathering gradually grew to about 50 riders. Around 6pm, folks circled together. Several old school massers explained the history, intent, and tactics used back in the day. This would be a protest ride, and rush hour traffic would be targeted deliberately.
— Joe Biel (@beaugheale) June 28, 2014
Once everyone was briefed and feeling ready, the mass spilled out into the streets. There seemed to be a bit of initial reluctance about where to go and how to navigate as a group. Most present were well familiar with group-riding, corking, etc; June is Pedalpalooza, after all. Then, gradually, people began developing a bit of form and control as a group.