CCM Community, the Event as a node for social activity
The rides are more like the switchboard operator that have allowed me to connect to people. They helped me find a community that I could socialize with and enjoy the getting there… and you realize the getting there is as much fun as being there.” (Gin Kilgore: Transportation Planner for the Chicago Area Transportation Study)

Critical Mass is unique because it is the event, not an organization or institution, that serves as the movement’s structure. When asked “what is Critical Mass” at the June ride, Chicago Critical Mass Participant Sarah Kaplan responded “Critical Mass is the ride, but it’s also a very good forum to do other things, they have a lot of enthusiasm to organize different events.” The actual ride is a node for progressive political and social agendas shared by many of the Mass participants, and the biking sub-culture.

Critical Mass Fifth Annual Art Show: Feb 9-22, 2002(Place your mouse over each of the following gallery images, click, hold and drag your mouse to explore the rooms of the show).

In February of 2002, over a hundred people rode across icy city streets for about 9 miles. This ride ended at a party in a gallery filled with art made by CCM participants. This showing was put together by several participants of Critical Mass who got together artwork from many other Mass participants and other artists, The art displayed either critiques ‘car culture’ or celebrates ‘bike culture (explore the “CCM Art Show” on the CD-rom). This event typified the many social gatherings that are spawning from the main event.

The Critical Mass Art Show, also promoted on flyers as the Annual Anti-Auto Show Art Show, opened after a group of about 30 bicyclists protested the Auto Show at McCormick Place. Several hundred cyclists, artists and activists crowded into Heaven Gallery in Wicker Park, for the opening celebration of bike art. Puppet shows, music and performance art were also shared on this night .

The displayed panoramas were taken at the gallery the Thursday evening before the February CCM ride. Volunteers gathered to assemble the Deraileur, the monthly 'unofficial' CCM Zine; and to discuss strategies for making the mass more fun and meaningful. (You can see people assembling the Deraileur in the background of the panorama of Room 1 pictured at left).

Anyone could contribute art to the show. Three active mass participants, Travis Culley, Cathy Haibach and Sarah Kaplan organized the Show.

They request on the show's promo that submitted art "reveal the internal flaws or costs of auto-dependent living or to propose the virtues of auto-independent living (quietude, cleanliness, gracefulness, ease of operation, safety, simplicity of design, character, friendliness, sexiness--whatever)." (

To view art more carefully, CCM web-master Jim Redd has displayed close-ups of each work of art on the CCM web site.

The Gallery was set up on Friday Feb. 8th, where space was claimed by artists on a first come first serve basis. The February ride ended at the gallery where over 100 cyclists once again enjoyed the space, art, beer and each other till around mid-night.

From the event Critical Mass, several side projects have developed including Break the Gridlock, Bike Winter, Cycling Sisters, an ‘unofficial’ CM publication: The Derailleur, Critical Mass happy hour, a Critical Mass Art Show, poetry reading, Critical Mass/Bike Winter Film Festival, list-serve discussion groups and even a Critical Mass calendar. Friendships are forged at these events. These projects, like the ride, are creating an active cycling sub-culture, while also promoting biking as a viable form of transportation in Chicago. Other rides are also promoted and organized on the list-serve such as the Anti-Car Ride, St. Rat Parade (intending to crash the St. Patrick’s Day parade), and the summer “Top-Freedom” ride (organized by several CCM women). Information on most side projects are discussed over the CCM list-serve and can also be found on the unofficial Critical Mass Web page at Several of the side-project’s have their own Web pages that can generally be accessed through a link on the Chicago Critical Mass Web page. A core group of about 40 people drive the side projects. However, this group is somewhat fluid. According to the core riders and Web page, newcomers are welcome and can assume leadership roles by volunteering. Critical Mass however, draws far more people. The Friday ride, CM, is the defining force of the movement.


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