With each pedal stroke, the chain on his bike squeaks slightly. His saddle is a bit stiff for his taste and his brakes sometimes unreliable. But it doesn't matter, the main thing is to be present, to participate in this political gesture. On his right, another bike, on his left, too. In front, behind, everywhere! The bikes follow each other joyfully through the city, which is not used to seeing its roadway totally invaded by bicycles.
The manifesto published on the movement's website states that "the goal is to reach a critical mass so that motorized traffic can be met on an equal footing".
Born in 1992 in San Francisco, the Critical Mass movement is organized in a particular way: it has no organization. There is never a preplanned route, no objective to the journey, no official spokespersons, no leaders and no organizers. Each edition is different from the last. The only unchanging element is the meeting point. In Berlin, for example, the cyclists meet at Heinrichplatz at 8 p.m. every time.
The participants want to reinvent the city. Ecologically, first of all.
"The use of electric cars will continue to spread, and with it the use of private vehicles, no matter how much moral disapproval cyclists have for car drivers. A better strategy might be to make the bicycle commute such a pleasant alternative that people will prefer to ride a bicycle rather than sit in a car, even if it is environmentally friendly." The watchword is clear: show road users that cycling is a viable and preferable alternative!
The demonstration claims to be peaceful and the police are letting it happen. However, the Berlin Police Department has published an article in the daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel to make it clear that there is no guarantee that their leniency will remain the norm forever.
The movement is also part of a truly global approach, a vision for the city of tomorrow that goes beyond the simple framework of ecology, and advocates a return to the spirit of "community" which the bicycle can provide. According to the movement's manifesto, getting around by bike allows you to talk to other road users, to stop and greet a neighbor or help a passer-by with her shopping. The bicycle would be the key to transform our cities into more ecological but also more human spaces. Hence the Critical Mass movement's slogan: "We are not against traffic, we are traffic."