Masse Critique

Massively critical ?

30 May 2018

On Saturday the 26th of May, more than a thousand people participated in the 20 year anniversary ride of the Belgian Critical Mass. But do you know where this phenomenon comes from ?

A bit of history...

In the 1990s, the then Mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown, openly declared war on bikes after being locked in his limousine by a Critical Mass of cyclists. He demanded that all participants be arrested. The event turned into a battle between cyclists and motorists, with many bicycles destroyed and more than 200 arrests. That’s how it became famous.

The term "critical mass" comes an old bike practice in China, where cyclists would stop and group up at crossroads without traffic lights, to reach a “critical mass” of cyclists, before safely entering the crossroads together.

The objective? To create public spaces in which motorists make way for people.

Originally, Critical Mass events were self-organised and ad-hoc, but over time they grew into more stable organisations with wide scopes and driving along planned-out routs.

“As for all Critical Masses worldwide, the goal of the Critical Mass in Brussels is to make ourselves visible – to no longer be affected by traffic, but to become traffic”, says Benjamin François, regular participant of the Critical Mass in Brussels & Gracq member.

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