|Welcome to the
Critical Mass website
This website has been set up for several reasons. A primary goal is to set the record straight regarding the origins of Critical Mass in San Francisco in 1992. Due to our cultural predisposition to attribute all events to the exemplary efforts of one or more heroic individuals, the mythical history of Critical Mass has become something like "it all started with Chris Carlsson going to the SF Bike Coalition in August 1992." While there was such an event, and he did make a suggestion for a spontaneous, monthly gathering of bicyclists, this idea was by no means his alone (in fact, it's patently absurd to attribute any social movement to the good idea of a single individual). In fact, Carlsson, along with Jim Swanson, Markus Cook, Kash, Joel Pomerantz, and some others, had been discussing this idea for the better part of six months prior to its presentation to a (less-than-enthusiastic) SF Bike Coalition meeting. The concept evolved over this time, with multiple input and influence from all the aforementioned, and plenty of people who never took part directly in the conversations. Soon after the first ride, Kathy Roberts, Deirdre Crowley, Travis Moraché, James Kern, Steven Bodzin, Ted White, Stuart Coulthard, Hugh D'Andrade, Dave Snyder, Donald Francis, Emily McFarland, and many others began to take part in the ongoing discussions and planning.
Social movements don't erupt from individuals, and individuals don't have ideas that are solely theirs. We are all shaped and influenced by our social conditions; our sense of what's possible and what we do about it is shaped IN ACTION WITH EACH OTHER. No better example exists of this larger dynamic than Critical Mass itself.
On this site you will find over two dozen essays, long and short, penned mostly by Chris Carlsson, but with crucial editing and feedback from dozens of people, most notably Jim Swanson. The graphics on this site are largely the work of Jim Swanson, with some things from Beth Verdekal, too. Swanson and Carlsson have a typesetting business together in San Francisco, and it is in their office that many of these early plans took shape. Six years later, Critical Mass Fridays always start with a gin & tonic party at their offices, so if you're coming to visit San Francisco's Critical Mass, be sure to get in touch with Chris Carlsson or Jim Swanson.