Courteous or Critical? Will bicyclists in San Diego ever belong?

A resident of Normal Heights, Marc Hawkins, recently contacted us wanting Bike San Diego to take a stance on San Diego’s Critical Mass rides. Hawkins’ website, Stop Critical Mass serves as one man’s quest to end Critical Mass rides in San Diego.

In his email, Hawkins begins as follows, “Does ‘Bike San Diego” have a position on the illegal and disruptive bike event called Critical Mass?” This loaded question put us in a difficult position because our contributors and supporters span the spectrum on how they view Critical Mass. Is Critical Mass illegal? After all, it is, at its core, nothing more than group ride consisting of a few hundred cyclists riding on the streets, as a mass as opposed to the everyday diaspora given how the City of San Diego has been built around the automobile.

As Bike San Diego strives to include all cyclists’ perspectives, I thought it would be much more instructive to look back to the origins of Critical Mass, its role in society today, and whether the ride as a movement has accomplished anything at all. Most importantly, I will address whether Critical Mass serves any purpose in San Diego.