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Davis, California

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Bicyclists roam Davis streets every last Friday of the month

Originating in San Francisco as the first bicycling tour in 1992, Critical Mass eventually became an instant hit in over 300 cities around the world.

Taking place every last Friday of the month, bicyclists congregate and roam the city together to promote bicycling as an alternative to driving cars. There are different forms of Critical Mass, ranging from politically driven bike rides to rides just for fun.

“A critical mass is an autonomous zone; it challenges the existing transportation system by testing it, and demonstrating that even in Davis, attitudes and infrastructure are not conducive to bikes as the main mode of transport,” said Darach Miller, a genetics graduate student.

Given that Davis is known as Bike City, USA, it has its very own Critical Mass group that meets once a month under the Oak Tree at Central Park. During its prime time in the mid-2000s, Davis Critical Mass drew together many people who dressed up in various costumes with extravagant bike décor.

Probably considered Davis Critical Mass’s most popular ride up to date, Zombies Versus Pirates was held in September 2007. Bicyclists came together dressed up as a pirate or zombie to reclaim the streets from the car invasion. This car invasion was in reference to the Fifth Street corridor, which is, today, still considered a hazardous bike thruway because of its lack of bike lanes.

According to daviswiki.org, Davis Critical Mass used to consist of about a hundred people. Since then, the number of participants has decreased.

In addition, the original goals of Davis Critical Mass have shifted from protesting for bike lanes on Fifth Street to having a wonderful time biking with other community members every month.

Boogabaah Weesnaah, who is one of the administrators for the Davis Critical Mass Facebook group and frequently attends the bike rides, said “the few rides that actually did occur last year [2011] seemed to be more for just fun than protesting anything.”

She said that a nice mixture of both students and community members are involved with the group but that there is no set organization. Ideally, people show up whenever they feel like riding and create their own routes as they bike.

“No one’s in charge, this is not an organization, there are no members,” Miller said. “If you do it, you are it, and you own it.”

“Critical Mass is always fun no matter how many people show up,” Weesnaah said. “It’s nice to meet some new friends while hanging out with the old ones.”

Brandon Lowe, an undeclared sophomore bicyclist enthusiast, said that this decrease in participation might be attributed to a lack of leadership since Critical Mass only happens whenever people feel like showing up.

Lowe also said that it might also be due to a lack of publicity or a change in what people consider popular.

Despite the decrease in participation, there are still Critical Mass events held every last Friday at 5 p.m. starting at the Oak Tree at Central Park.

Anybody is welcome to join Davis Critical Mass in its bike rides.

MEE YANG can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

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