Portland is poised to enter a new era of bike activism; and it might look a lot like the old one.
After laying dormant for over six years, Critical Mass appears to be showing real signs of life. People who were at the ride this past Friday night have expressed enthusiasm and optimism about how it went and it’s already on the calendar again next month.
After years of telling people that Critical Mass was dead in Portland, it seems I might have to start telling a different story. Tonight, after a nearly six-year hiatus the well-known tactic of bike-centric street activism will return — at least in name if not in form.
A local man’s documentary history of the Critical Mass movement in Portland will premiere May 23 at the Clinton Street Theater, Southeast 26th and Clinton.
“It tells the story of how advocacy and activism coalesced to create Portland’s bicycle network over the last 40 years,” Aftermass filmmaker Joe Biel wrote in an email.
Biel began filming the story of the monthly urban bike ride, which mixed fun and activism, in 2009. Among other things, he scored a pre-candidacy interview with future Mayor Charlie Hales, who twice checked out Critical Mass by joining it anonymously while he served on city council 15 years ago. We’ve covered the making of this film, and parts of the story it tells, for years, so it’s exciting to see it on the big screen at last.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)
Portland’s bike scene in
the video below.
(Still from the movie Downfall)
Portland filmmaker Joe Biel has collaborated with veteran local bike scene participant Allan Folz on Mien Fiets, a short video that attempts to explain what has happened to bike activism in Portland since the demise of Critical Mass (a ride that once rallied locals in the hundreds, now barely even exists).
Mein Fiets, a crowd favorite at Filmed by Bike where it debuted back in April, was made by using a creative translation of the oft-parodied bunker scene from the 2004 film Downfall about the last 10 days of Adolf Hitler. [Read more…]
(Photos © J. Maus)
Now they’re saying that the days of bike fun are numbered.
If that’s true, Jacque Authier intends to send it out with a bang (and maybe resuscitate it in the process). She’s announced the Halloween Procession for Poor, Dead Bike Fun this Friday, October 30th meeting at 5:45pm under the west end of the Morrison Bridge.
Here’s how Authier describes the ride:
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:
More photos here
(Photos © Jonathan Maus)
Around 60 Portlanders remembered Critical Mass last Friday. While that number may seem low, it was the biggest turnout the ride has seen in many months.
Critical Mass — that enigmatic, fun, controversial, “defiant celebration” of bikes as traffic — has been all but missing from Portland’s bike scene lately.
The theories about its demise vary, but in the last year or so it seems to have lost its mojo here in “Bike City USA”.[Read more…]