2011: A Space Picnic

Leicester Critical Mass (because it is still called that) is back on June 24th (the day after my birthday) with the SPACE PICNIC.
Rob wanted a space theme, I wanted a picnic. Simple as that really. All the usual stressing about how to theme it was bypassed this month.
It should see some of the best fancy dress outfits we’ve had riding yet, but if you don’t want to dress up, that’s fine too. Just make sure you ride…

We were involved in the Building Cycling Cultures Conference this weekend which was all a bit bizarre. There were lots of professional cycling advocates and council types. And us – two blokes from the pub who have managed to start something rather special.
We ran a ‘workshop’ explaining to people how we had used ‘Social Media’ to go from an idea to 900 Facebook friends and 170 people riding with us.
On both occasions, the workshop got a little side-tracked onto how Leicester Critical Mass differs from others.

The people we were speaking to were experts, in one form or another, in cycling, but their perception of Critical Mass seemed to be shared. To them it is a protest. It is activism. A couple of the delegates said ‘I’ll never ride a Critical Mass’. 
This took me back a bit and made us think about the ‘baggage’ that the name carries. To these ‘professionals’, Critical Mass means something very different than to to the people who ride with us. In fact of the people that ride the Leicester Mass, I’m sure there are probably less than 10% that realise that it happens all over the world and is usually a tense, confrontational, agenda-laden ride rather than our mobile party. 

For a while we though about changing the name – Leicester Bike Party perhaps? Something to break this association and reflect what we are and how we differ from other Masses. But after some thought, we’re going to stick with Leicester Critical Mass. It is descriptive of what we achieve during the rides, if only for a fleeting moment. 
The people that started the original Critical Mass in San Francisco and coined the phrase, shared exactly our intentions and objectives. It seems they were victims of their own success and the event grew out of their control. 
If you’re interested in learning more about how it all started, you should make a cup of tea, pull up the biscuit tin and watch We Are Traffic

Let me know what you think on the 24th…

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