“We’re not blocking traffic – we ARE traffic!” This is the motto of 4000-5000 Hamburg cyclists participating in the monthly critical mass event. What originated in San Francisco is meanwhile practiced in various cities around the world (e.g. see Belgrade article). The purpose is to increase awareness for cyclists in traffic by “reclaiming the streets” from motorized road users for several hours. Even though we are usually a huge crowd, there have never been any serious accidents or severe commotions. For some it’s a protest, for others just a bicycle tour, yet others call it a flash mob – for me it’s a bit like a huge family outing where everyone is having a great time and where people are eager to help out if someone is in need of a pump or a repair kit.
The route is posted on the website on the day of the event and there is always a police escort accompanying us. Everyone is free to participate the way they want: some are eager to show off their custom made (double-decker) bikes, many just get a bike from the city’s bike sharing system (Stadtrad), some provide entertainment by dressing up, bringing their music (stereos on trailers), attaching bubble blowing devices to their racks or sharing lollipops with everyone. My favorite, however, is a guy with a BBQ mounted on his handle bars who grills sausages while riding! 😀
Check their website for the next meeting spot – it’s always published on the day of the event!