a crowd of cyclists in a downtown san francisco street

Carlsson, Critical Mass

Chris Carlsson, a San Francisco activist and writer, was there at the beginning of Critical Mass (or the “Commute Clot,” as it was originally known).

Since the first Critical Mass more than twenty years ago, the event has spread around the world. Here in San Francisco, as elsewhere, it has sometimes caused controversy.

In short, the event has variable credibility: some people strongly approve of it, while others are sharply critical of it (or of some elements of it).

Your assignment is to read some selections in a book edited by Carlsson (many other people contributed to the book, as you’ll see). Read Carlsson’s Introduction and a few of the selections that follow. This will give you a sense of the participants’ view of the event. The PDF is linked here.

The entire book is available at the USF library in print form and at nearby bookstores such as Green Apple Books.

If you’re thinking of going to Critical Mass, you might also want to watch the rest of USF student Ellie Vanderlip’s filmĀ The Human Motor.

The ride begins at Justin Herman Plaza on the last Friday of every month. People begin assembling around 5 or 5:30 pm, and they actually begin riding around 6 pm usually. There is no leader and no one is in charge.