Critical Mass bike rides in cities around the world stir up strong feelings on all sides. Rides in New York have seen arrests and assaults against cyclists, while riders in Seattle have been described as “rampaging.” Critical Mass has become a polarizing event and although Toronto’s version seems a little less controversial, the trip along the Gardiner Expressway in May was alternately hailed and vilified. Deserved or not, Critical Mass is getting a reputation as being confrontational and disruptive.
A family-friendly alternative to CM recently started. First launched in Eugene, Oregon in April, Kidical Mass has since spread to a half-dozen other cities in the U.S. and Canada. Toronto’s own edition began in May, with about 30 riders—half of them children—joining the leisurely ride through Riverdale’s streets. Since then, the rides have continued on the third Friday of every month. Slower, more relaxed, and less confrontational than Critical Mass, Kidical Mass is aimed more at families with children than hard-core commuters.
Toronto organizer Heather Wheldrake says that she was inspired to bring Kidical Mass to Toronto after reading about the inaugural event in Eugene. “I’m always trying to get people to consider bicycling as a viable form of transportation, even if you have a family. Kidical Mass seems like a great opportunity to expose more people to that idea, and to celebrate it.”
She hopes that fun, safe group rides like Kidical Mass will not only encourage people to ride their bikes, but also get more motorists to respect other road users. “Big or small, we’re all traffic.”
Kidical Mass riders meet at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, August 15 (and on the third Friday of every month) in Withrow Park. Riders of all ages are welcome. See the Kidical Mass Toronto Facebook group for more details.
Photo of Kidical Mass Portland by BikePortland.org.