Shift Happens! Critical Mass at 20

Shift Happens! The Critical Mass is an “organised coincidence” of cyclists that periodically celebrate a collective bike ride in the streets; its purpose is to show to the society the great advantages that bicycles could provide to urban mobility. In the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the first Critical Mass in San Francisco, one of its pioneers, Chris Carlsson, together with other contributors, edited the book Shift Happens. Critical Mass at 20, a collection of experiences and essays from some of the over 300 cities of the world in which the event reached an autonomous life, after that first bicycle ride. This is the meaning of the expression critical mass – the number of participants needed for phenomenon to start moving and growing by itself. The Critical Mass does’nt ask, it builds, giving form to a livable city through its own praxis. The presentation of the book in Madrid – where every last thursday of the month a Bicicrítica is held through the center of the city, while ten more happen in other neighborhoods and municipalities (like Fuenlabrada, Tres Cantos, Alcalá de Henares, Moratalaz, Ciudad Lineal) – was the occasion for a radio debate in “Carne Cruda”, RN3, for the participation of the book’s editors in a bicicrítica (read here Carlsson’s impressions) and for the presentation of another book of his “Nowtopia, How Pirate Programmers, Outlaw Bicyclist and Vacant-Lot Gardeners Are Inventing the Future Today“, in Traficantes de Sueños bookshop (here the audio of the event). Shift Happens‘s chapter on Madrid is the summary of an ethnografic article on bicycle repair workshops inside the occupied social centers of Madrid, that can be downloaded entirely from the link below.

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