Critical Mass redux: Bicyclists take to streets of Philly

A grass-roots social movement with no defined leader is returning to the streets of Philadelphia. And it’s not Occupy Philadelphia.

A bicycle ride called Critical Mass will begin Friday evening outside City Hall at 5:30.

About 10 or 15 years ago, major cities around the world began to see bicyclists informally coming together once a month to ride through the streets. If enough bicyclists showed up, motorists would have no choice but to yield to the pack–hence the name Critical Mass.

It was a way for bicyclists to force cars to share the road, and it often involved scofflaws causing trouble. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia does not endorse the ride.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Philadelphia has not seen a Critical Mass ride for several years. A group of enthusiasts on Facebook, who advocate it as a fun event rather than a contentious one, have spearheaded the revival.

“The idea that we are traffic is a good one, and I’d like to support that,” said Lowell Spogen, who hopes the ride will become a regular monthly event. “But in the end, I think it’s about getting a bunch of people together and enjoying a community event and being respectful to each other and everyone around us.”

Spogen proposed a route that goes through several Philadelphia neighborhoods, allowing riders to see lesser-known parts of the city and avoid major traffic arteries.

But the route will be somewhat spontaneous, determined by riders at their rendezvous outside City Hall.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal