CRITICAL MASS – MANHATTAN

09/27/2024 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

This Critical Mass bike ride will be a celebration of future renewable energy and non-polluting transportation. Critical Mass meets the last Friday of every month in over 200 cities around the world. NYC’s Critical Mass and group bike rides increased bike riding and created the sustainable, safe infrastructure that we now enjoy today in NYC.

Historical Significance of Critical Mass:

New York City’s Critical Mass was a successful strategy for increasing bicycling and creating safe city infrastructure. It encouraged new riders and empowered them to become daily commuters through safe, fun group bike rides. The rides changed the city forever.
In the 1990’s, car culture dominated New York City, and bicycling was extremely unsafe. It was not uncommon for cars to purposely knock you off the road.
Around 1995, TIME’S UP! Environmental Organization began devising strategies that would increase biking and non-polluting transportation in the city. These included hundreds of beginner bike rides in safe places like through Central Park, Prospect Park, and greenway rides. The number one complaint from cyclists was that they didn’t feel safe, and group rides  helped to both build a sense of community and the confidence of new cyclists, inspiring them to become everyday commuters.
As these rides began to help expand bicycling, TIME’S UP! helped to promote and organize the Critical Mass bike ride, an event that, by the end of 2003, was held in over 300 cities around the world–usually on the last Friday of every month. It met at the Washington Square Park Arch, followed by the Astor Place Cube, and then, when it got really large, at Union Square Park North.
At the same time, TIME’S UP! demonstrated to get cars out of Herald Square and Times Square, did traffic calming rides on a weekly basis in Central Park, and promoted the new greenway infrastructure. TIME’S UP! was also involved and organized a bicycle co-op where people could fix their own bikes and learn how they worked. The organization also helped to start New York City’s pedicab business. However, ultimately, Critical Mass was the game changer, continuously increasing bicycling in the city. When it reached a thousand bicyclists, there was a high chance that a hundred were new riders. So as long as we kept Critical Mass going, biking would continue to increase at a crucial juncture in the city’s history.
New York City did everything they possibly could to discourage group bike rides and Critical Mass, including ticketing and arresting thousands of bicyclists. The city proceeded to harass TIME’S UP! and other groups with lawsuits and threats. Many other bicycling groups sat on the sidelines during this crucial growth period, intimidated by the city’s bullying behavior. TIME’S UP! continued to support Critical Mass and other group rides, despite the intense harassment from the New York City Police Department. Eventually, we were able to reach biking’s critical mass in New York City, and now it can’t go back to the way it was.
The increase in bicycling put pressure on the city to create the infrastructure that we now see today: bike lanes, auto-free plazas, greenways, and auto-free parks. Special thanks to all the bicyclists that rode during this crucial time in New York City’s history. We created a permanently more safe, sustainable, and livable city.
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