The worlds of cycling and activism have a long history of intersecting. In the 19th century, bicycles were a vehicle of liberation for women fighting against disenfranchisement. Swarms of riders also rode to demand safer paved streets, only to see their victories robbed from them by the imposition of the automobile years later.
More recently, Critical Mass proved to be a game-changer in how we think about reclaiming streets for people cycling, as well as walking. The concept of a ‘bike bloc’ evolved into ‘bike swarms’ with the inception and ultimate eviction of the Occupy encampments here in Portland. The genesis of the ongoing PDX Bike Swarm inspired the formation of several similar groups across the world.