Critical Mass Hysteria?

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When does activism go too far? That question was raised last Friday night when Critical Mass cyclists in San Francisco intentionally rammed their bikes into a kid-filled minivan, banged on the windshield and smashed the rear window wide open.

Critical Mass, for those who don’t know, is a national, metropolitan-based movement where, on the first Friday of every month, hundreds of cyclists converge en masse and ride through city streets as a group. These routes are unannounced and often violate traffic signals and signs, immobilizing vehicular traffic and inspiring the ire of inconvenienced motorists. Critical Mass’s message is not clear (due to the number of local groups) but centers around support for alternative, eco-friendly transportation.

Generally, Critical Mass events are peaceful. On this Friday ride, allegedly, the clueless, suburban driver had accidentally tapped the wheel of a cyclist (who, by his own admission, was not injured). The cyclists struck back for this slight, slamming into the minivan and eventually throwing a bike through the back window. The kids in the attacked minivan, out for a birthday dinner, were terrified, and the vehicle damage tops $5,000.

Thanks, Critical Mass, for literally making little girls cry, and for giving the conservatives another glob of mud to sling at the environmentally-conscious.

—Jen Phillips

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If you're new to Mother Jones or aren't yet sold on supporting our nonprofit reporting, please take a moment to read Monika Bauerlein's post about our priorities after these chaotic several years, and why this relatively quiet moment is also an urgent one for our democracy and Mother Jones’ bottom line—and if you find it compelling, please join us.

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