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Critical Mass

Guernsey

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Ride time and locationEdit

Location: Liberation Monument, St Peter Port
Day: Last Friday of every month
Time: Meet from 5:15pm, ride 5:45pm
Duration: However long the ride lasts (usually around an hour)
Route: Spontaneously decided. Wherever the cyclist(s) at the front decide

HistoryEdit

Despite Guernsey's small size, covering just 25 square miles, the island has a significant dependence on motor vehicles, coupled with limited public transport, and a general reluctance across the community to use bicycles. In response to this, and with a desire to change attitudes towards cycling, Critical Mass was brought to Guernsey by a cycling activist who had experienced San Francisco's Critical Mass during his time in the United States in 2004 and 2005.

The first Guernsey Critical Mass took place on Friday 30th June 2006, starting from St Peter Port's Liberation Monument with a turnout of around thirty cyclists. With no other local equivalent to the leadership and agenda-free Critical Mass, the ride attracted significant publicity in the local media - BBC Radio Guernsey, Channel Television, and the Guernsey Press all reported on the ride for the next four months.

Thanks to continued inclusion in the Guernsey Press's 'What's On Guide', bicycle handlebar flyers, posters at local bicycle stores, Internet posting, email lists, and more, the ride continues today. However, the aim of achieving a true 'critical mass', whereby the ride is sustained not by promotion but through the understanding by riders that the event will happen every month, is still a work in progress. In the meantime, a few riders continue to foster the growth of the ride until it reaches a sufficient size and profile to become self-sustaining.

Structure and aimsEdit

Guernsey Critical Mass adopts the same broad set of principles as other Critical Mass rides around the world. The ride is no more than an idea, an understanding that cyclists will congregate at a certain time and place every month and cycle the same way together. Therefore, no formal set of aims or principles have been adopted and the ride has no leadership or hierarchy.

Although it currently survives due to the promotional efforts of a few individuals, such individuals work from the underlying principle that Guernsey Critical Mass is 'owned' by its constituent riders. Therefore, the duration, route, and even time and place, of the ride are all open to change by those riders who come along.

Although many have suggested anarchistic, social, political, environmental, and other intentions are the raison d'etre for the ride, in reality riders join for individual reasons. For example, though the event begins in a central location at a time of high traffic levels, no rider has ever stated this is for disruptive purposes. The ride merely adopts the convention of most other Critical Masses around the world which take place at similar times and locations.

In keeping to such an open-ended structure, Guernsey Critical Mass affords itself many advantages. It avoids pigeon-holing itself in any one cause, so whilst the idea of Critical Mass rests only on the assumption that the promotion of cycling is a worthwhile activity, the ride leaves its riders free to enjoy Critical Mass in whatever way they choose and to let it benefit society in whatever way it does. In addition, the ride is as open as possible to riders of all fitness levels, beliefs, and ages.

Its grassroots nature also enables Critical Mass to adopt the cultural norms of its host society. In Guernsey, this means that Critical Mass is a relaxed ride, lacking the more activist character of rides in cities such as London and New York. Riders cycle together as they would normally and operate with general courteousness towards drivers.

ContactEdit

To receive monthly reminders about upcoming rides, or for any further enquiries, email CriticalMassGuernsey@yahoo.com.

LinksEdit

  • WhyGuernsey events forum The events section on WhyGuernsey.com, a local forum, where upcoming Critical Mass rides are posted.
  • We Are Traffic A 50-minute documentary about the origins of Critical Mass.
Other ride locations in the United Kingdom (articles only)

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