What has happened to Critical Mass in Portland?
A trailer has just been completed for a forthcoming documentary that will explore that question: A Post Critical Mass Portland: Living in a Post-Revolutionary Bicycle Age. You can watch it here:
“What does it mean that Portland, one of the best North American cities for cycling, has virtually no Critical Mass?”
I dropped by the Microcosm Bookstore (which is just a few doors down from BikePortland HQ) to talk with Biel about the film. He and Phil wanted to make a movie together, and decided to develop a trailer to submit to this year’s Filmed By Bike, Portland’s now-classic bicycle-themed film festival.
The central question of the movie is: “What does it mean that Portland, one of the best North American cities for cycling, has virtually no Critical Mass? Is it no longer relevant in the evolution of cyclists or has the police crackdown just been so successful? What are the new goals of cyclists?”
(Photo © J. Maus)
The movie will include interviews with people who have participated in Critical Mass over the years (including Jonathan and I — you can see us in the trailer), as well as selections from Biel’s large collection of footage that he has taken at Critical Mass in cities all over the world since the mid-1990s, including London and San Francisco, as well as Portland. There’s plenty of cool footage in the trailer as well.
Critical Mass, a monthly event in cities worldwide since the early 1990s, often has a fraught relationship with police, more “mainstream” bicycle advocates, and the media. Fred Nemo has written this fascinating account of the early years of Critical Mass in Portland.
Since then, after many ups and downs, Portland’s Critical Mass seems to have subsided. BikePortland reported a year ago that it seemed to have “lost its mojo.”
Have you been on a Critical Mass ride in Portland in the past two years? We’d love to hear what it was like.
Elly Blue has been writing about bicycling and carfree issues for BikePortland.org since 2006. Find her at http://takingthelane.com