Yesterday I (Cody) left the shop in Steve’s capable hands around 5:30pm to check out the Critical Mass ride.  As Wikipedia will tell you CM has been going on for nearly two decades, and it isn’t without controversy.  Iowa City’s CM, as I’ve known it, has always been small enough to inspire only minor controversies, unlike rides in New York and other large cities.  However you feel about Critical Mass, it is without a doubt direct action by and for bicyclists.

Yesterday’s group of around a dozen riders (I mentioned small, right?) took off just before 6pm from the ped mall at the Dubuque St. intersection.    We tooled around town without much clamor, just good company and the joy of riding our bikes with more confidence and ease.  Safety in numbers?  Maybe.  Even if it just feels that way, it’s a fun way to ride.  We rode 45 minutes or so until our group had been slowly widdled down to five (sometimes due to being separated by traffic lights, sometimes due to people being conveniently near their next stop).

Pedalling away from Critical Mass I still had that feeling of ease and something more: empowerment.  Whether or not CM actually raises awareness of cyclists to the motoring public, I would say probably, but perhaps not.  But if cyclists can ride city streets without feeling in perpetual danger, even if just once a month, I’d say the power is in that.  At least, that’s how it felt for me.

Maybe Steve will be so kind as to let me slip away again on the last Friday of June to do it all again.  See you on Critical Mass!

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