Bicycle Diaries: The news of CCM's demise

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The news of CCM's demise

is it greatly exaggerated?

The CCM Grand Finalé Daley Plaza Ride drew an estimated 3,800 participants last Friday. So the Hooded Cabal has issued this timely obituary for immediate press release.
Chicago Critical Mass, a contentious monthly bike ride that indelibly changed the streets of the City, passed away Friday evening after suffering a long decline.

The Chicago Critical Mass Delay Plaza Rides were born in 1997 as a demonstration which brought out 150 cyclists with the goal of affirming cyclists' right to the road. Over the years, the ride steadily grew, routinely turning out thousands of riders and paving the way for numerous citywide bike-friendly reforms, including:
  • the establishment of a network of 100 miles of on-street bike lanes and the installation of 10,000 bike racks, more than any city in the United States;
  • winning transport for bicycles on Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) trains and equipping their fleet of 2,000 buses with racks that carry bikes.
  • the re-election of bicycle advocate Mayor Richard M. Daley to a 6th term by a margin greater than 70 percent.
Critical Mass began showing signs of decline around mid-2005, beginning with recurring bouts of irritability, forgetfulness, and self-destructive behavior. Some believe alcohol may have played a role in the ride's demise.

On Friday evening, the ride passed into the final stages of dementia, becoming unable to care for itself, as thousands of riders limped through the the loop and Chicago's near north side, often unable to even mount and pedal their bicycles. The Chicago Police stepped in, blocking traffic, redirecting wandering participants, and attempting to keep the ride on course as the somber, wounded procession slowly made its way to Rosehill Cemetery.

Sarah Kaplan, a 51 year-old computer programmer from the Bucktown neighborhood, complained, "riders were swerving all over the place-- I started to fear for my safety." Kaplan reports that she rounded up her immediate friends and convinced them to leave the ride after about 30 minutes.

Chicago Critical Mass is survived by the Pilsen, Evanston, Oak Park, and Wicker Park Critical Masses; Chicago Bike Winter; and Cycling Sisters. Chicago Ghost Bikes is planning an installation of a memorial bike on October 5th at 8 P.M. at the intersection of Armitage and Kedzie.


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