Tuesday, June 17, 2008

San Francisco Critical Mass

The Friday before AIDS LifeCycle coincided with the infamous original San Francisco critical mass. After lunch with a friend in Berkeley I took the BART into the city.

Berkeley BART Station Taking BART across the bay.

I met up with Richie, an ALC rider from last year, who had signed on this year as part of the media team to film and document the ride. After reaching the start at the end of Market Street, we waited as the mass grew from a small gathering, to a giant swarm.

Fixie Hipster


It was a fun ride with some marked differences from Critical Mass back in Los Angeles. Besides being bigger, it started earlier, situating it self at a time of more peak traffic, and it had a sanctioned police escort following the tail of the ride. The police presence both added an element of seeming legitimacy, while at the same time created a sense of fear that they could start making arrests and loading the paddy wagon in their procession.

Although most of the city's response to the ride, motorist and pedestrian alike, was tepid at best, and seething at worst, riding down Haight Street we had a warm welcoming committee that made the ride feel like a loved parade more then the protest it was perceived as elsewhere.


Partway through the ride I had met up with some of the rest of the team, who had trekked north early to catch SFCM. Toward the end we broke off for some much needed food and drinks to cap off the night. Then it was time for another BART ride across the bay to get some sleep. I loved using BART during my whole trip, and I can only hope someday Los Angeles's fledgling train system gets it's act together.

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