Monday, January 22, 2007


CORUÑA, SPAIN - Enjoy this musical slide show of a Spanish Critical Mass. Music is "Revolucion" by AMARAL,the song speaks of an anonymous revolution and secret books ("calmar el tráfico"). Words that go well with the photos.

A Coruña
is a galician city in the northwest of Iberian peninsula. There has been an active and growing critical mass since October 2005. This video summarizes one year of their activities.

Critical Mass is has become a world wide phenomenon. Just follow this search at YouTube to see the variety of places, tactics, and issues behind the event.

CM has an anarchist heart and it's flavor can't be generalized from place to place. However, I think one can safely say that CM is a demand made by cyclists to take back their share of the streets. This "presumptuous" and disruptive demand... the arrests, altercations, and inconvenience to motorists is what creates the controversy behind critical mass.

Is it a good tactic? I believe it's an important tool for cycling advocates especially in the initial stages of bringing community awareness to bicycle issues. Controversy gets media coverage and can start enlightening conversation. On the other hand it can be divisive. For example, I know of two motorists who had their cars damaged during critical mass (one car was kicked and the other keyed). I don't see how this this type of destructive action helps the cause.

My view is passive resistance is the best response. Attacking automobiles is not going win sympathies and it may even put more cyclists at risk. When you carry out an act of civil disobedience you must be prepared to be injured or arrested for your cause. Even though self defense or violent reaction may be justified you can't control the spin that action unleashes. It's better to take your lumps and win sympathies.

One day we will reach a true critical mass where motor vehicles are no longer the suffocating rulers of our transportation system and pedestrians and cyclists will safely travel anywhere. The sooner we get there the better.

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