On the last Friday of every month in the summer, a group of bicycle riders get together to remind the drivers of the city that bikes are vehicles and have the right to drive on the roadways that make up the core streets of this nations capital Ottawa. At 5:15 pm in Confederation Park, thatís just behind the NAC at Elgin St and Laurier St, this group of dedicated downtown bicycle riders band together to create what is called a critical mass. The bike riders must be of sufficient numbers to be visible and allow the car drivers to respect the laws of the road that govern the right of way in which bicycles have the right to be on the road. Think of it .If you where riding a horse, the car would not cut you off.

This Critical Mass ride is done in most major citys in the world. Why not join in the fun and take back the roads from the cars that think that road rage is a way of life and that being a responsible and courteous motor vehicle driver was only required to pass their drivers license.

How to Start a Critical Mass Ride

1. Understand the structure of Critical Mass.

CM has no leaders. It's an event, not an organization. There is no national group that licenses local rides. In every city that has a CM, one or more cyclists just picked a day and time and started handing out fliers. If your city doesn't have a CM, that's what you'll do. You don't need anyone to authorize your ride. You just do it.

2. Put it into perspective.

Critical Mass can be fun, but in and of itself, Critical Mass doesn't change anything. CM is effective only when combined with real advocacy -- such as lobbying local and state governments for bike lanes and other roadway improvements to benefit cyclists. If all you and your cohorts do is ride your bikes around once a month, don't be surprised when nothing changes.

3. Decide on a recurring time, day, & starting location.

Your CM needs to happen at a consistent time and place each month so that people always know where and when it is. The last Friday of the month is traditional, but many groups have chosen other recurring days. 5:30pm is a good time for CM, because it gives people who work until 5:00 a chance to get there, while leaving enough daylight in most months for a decent ride. (Don't try to have two times, one for months with daylight savings time and one for months without, but even after we tried to standardize on 5:00 year-round, years later people are still confused as to whether it's 4:30, 5:00, or 5:30.) A landmark on a university campus is a typical starting point, but consider using another public place to indicate that CM isn't just for college kids.

Critical mass song

Come on y'all
and get your ass
straight on down to the
Critical Mass
You don't need a car
You don't need gas
Just to ride around town
in the Critical Mass
Throw away your petrol machine
and live the best life you've ever seen
Livin', lovin' with Mother Earth
Using the tools she gave you at birth
It's a celebration
Movin' in rotation
Going clear across the nation
Talking evolution revolution
It's a celebrations
What a revelation revolution
So come on y'all
and get your ass
straight on down to
the Critical Mass
You don't need a car
You don't need gas
Just to ride around town
in the Critical Mass
Now we're taking back the street
with the power of our feet
coming from --your spot here--
where we meet
We go slow
yo' mellow don't you know
we don't go fast
don't matter if you're last
you won't get past
the Critical Mass
Now beauty in the midst of motion
People got the power of the ocean
Power to the people with the people power! (2x)

Bike Wheels in Silhouette

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