Critical Mass (cycling)

Critical mass (English for "critical mass" ) is a form used internationally as direct action, in which several non-motorized traffic (mainly cyclists) seemingly at random and unorganized take to and with common and non-hierarchical protest rides through city centers with their sheer volume to make their appearance concentrated on their interests and rights against the motorized individual attention.

Origin and Principles

The first " critical mass " called action took place in San Francisco in September 1992. Since that start, cyclists meet world more or less regularly to joint rides through the city. From city to city, there are various ways of dealing with traffic rules and cars and the police. A " critical mass " has no leaders and no central organization ( only one responsible for the action ). Critical Mass Actions occur when any person to a place and a time considered and calls for a common drive via the Internet, posters, word of mouth or a similar channel, place and time announced. If enough people then arrive to ride together, the CM will take place.

Closely related to the Critical Mass bicycle movement are self-help workshops, eg Bike Kitchens, in the respective cities. There are freak bikes, for example, Tallbikes, built to excite particular attention to the CM rides. Also, the ADFC support in many cities the rides through advertising and participation.

Critical Mass rides usually take once a month (often on the last Friday of the month ), but also on various occasions such as demonstrations, Reclaim the Streets parties or different days of action, and to various political and social subjects.

At one of the biggest Critical Mass rides, there was end of August 2004 in New York. Several thousand participants protested with their bike ride against the Republican convention and U.S. President George W. Bush. In the course of CM almost 400 people were arrested, confiscated hundreds of wheels locked and whole streets for bicycles.

Since 2004 there is also in Budapest twice a year a Critical Mass bike parade. After initially only a few hundred cyclists took part, went to the event on April 22, 2007, approximately 50,000 people through the downtown Budapest, 20 April 2008 there were already 80,000. Thus, the Hungarian event is the largest of its kind is also used in the Hungarian city of Pécs twice a year a Critical Mass event instead. Over 1,000 activists demonstrated here in the spring of 2008 for a biker -friendly traffic management.


More than 15 cyclists who want to form a recognizable cohesive group that can form a closed dressing according to § 27 Highway Code. This organization shall be considered as a single vehicle can, eg to drive a train through an intersection with traffic lights, even when the light changes to red in the meantime. This was confirmed by a judgment of the District Court of Verden 1989.

The first German Critical Mass was founded in Berlin in September 1997. Initially attended only ten to 20 riders. After half a year, there were already about 400 to 500 people who traveled together regularly. After a pause, place in Berlin in December 2006 again regularly rides instead. In Hamburg are held monthly Critical Mass rides. In July 2009, met there about 250 cyclists; in the summer of 2012 there were over 1500, on August 30, 2013 already 3252 people attended.

Monthly trips are also in Freiburg (since January 2008), Leipzig ( since April 2008 ), Nuremberg (since March 2009), Cologne (since summer 2010), Bremen (since July 2012), Braunschweig, Dortmund, Rostock, Greifswald, Oldenburg ( Oldenburg) ( since November 2012) and Wuppertal instead. In Frankfurt, two trips a month there. Also in Augsburg, Bonn, Celle, Dresden, Flensburg, Halle ( Saale ), Hanover, Heilbronn, Jena, Kiel, Marburg, Munich, Nördlingen, Regensburg, Rosenheim, Stuttgart, Nuremberg, Erfurt and many other German cities are or were there regular rides.


In Austria there is in Vienna after many years break (as CM first detectable on April 30, 1999) since March 2006, again every third Friday of the month a CM, which often reached around 400 participants between 2007 and 2010. 2009, the largest ever Critical Mass on the 19th of June, with over 600 participants. During the year 2011, the "critical mass" of participants grew on several occasions to 600 (May), 800 ( June ) and finally 950 (September) to. At the start of spring in March 2012 already biked with 800-1200 people. The police tolerated the random events in general and accompanied this with several engine and partly also bicycle lanes. For smaller events (such as in winter, for example, December 2011) she took part early on. In particularly massive gatherings, which calmed several automotive main arteries on spontaneous routes that police used sometimes a helicopter of the Interior Ministry, such as in September 2011 or in March 2012. In the Vienna Bike Kitchen became CM rides already decorated bicycles and different groups of cyclists uniformly masked (CM Vienna on 21 September 2012). This drive took the occasion of the " car-free day " also has a stretch of motorway.

Since 2007, monthly Critical Mass rides take place in Graz and Linz, in autumn 2008, also met with Innsbruck, Salzburg, Feldkirch and Wiener Neustadt to do so. In Linz, the Critical Mass will take place on Linz's Main Square on the last Friday of the month with the start. Salzburg will start on the same day by 17 clock in the park in front of the convention center, Graz also on the last Friday of the month at the South Tyrol in front of the Kunsthaus at 16.30 clock.