Critical Mass to continue, riders say

Critical Mass is dead. Long live Critical Mass.

A news report on Friday said Chicago's monthly bicycle advocacy rides may end in September.

Riders meet at Daley Plaza
But according to Steven Lane, a longtime group member who co-administers the Critical Mass website, that's not the case.

"A very dedicated group of riders are committed to keeping the... rides running for another 10 years," said Lane. "We are not ready to hang the 'Mission Accomplished' banner."

The loosely organized rides are known for snarling traffic as participants gather at the Daley Center to ride colorfully decorated bikes through the city on the last Friday of each month.

Confusion over Critical Mass' future may stem from its unstructured approach to advocacy; There is no formally designated leader, and hence nobody who can officially declare the rides over.

"The whole point is that there are no rules-- people show up and are accepted, they share this commonality. It becomes people coming together," said Lane.

But the Critical Mass Internet mailing list was alive today with members talking about their plans for continued participation.

"As far as October goes...I can't wait to find a gorilla suit with pockets big enough for a few tall boys, and fur that won't get stuck in my chain," said one participant Gregory Davies.

Said another: "The concept of Critical Mass ending is quite ridiculous."

Questions about future rides cropped up Friday, when the  Sun-Times reported that one of the group's founders,  Michael Burton, felt the rides should end.  

Lane said that most of the original founders are among the members who want the anniversary Mass to be the last ride.  He says that the leaders who want the central ride to stop want to create more, smaller rides throughout the city.

But  that approach doesn't appeal to Lane.

"If a Logan Square Mass were established, for example, that started a little later, it would probably work, but it would be contrary to the whole idea of joining in one place," said Lane. "There's a certain gravity to meeting at Daley Plaza, the Picasso."