Northeast LA Critical Mass: “One Night Only” or “Rebirth”

3_24_09_critical_mass.jpgWhen there’s only nine people, it’s hard to hand off the camera. Photo: LA Streetsblog

(This article is my first effort  to revive  a monthly series on Critical Mass
in the Greater Los Angeles area.  Previously Streetsblog has celebrated an anniversary in the Valley, dodged the
police in Santa Monica, cruised with the kids in Pasadena,  toured the downtown in Los Angeles, and kicked around in Venice.
Why is a policy blog doing a series on Critical Mass?  Simply, it’s an uniquely L.A. experience for so many communities to have their own Critical Mass and each ride tells us as much about the community as it does Bike Culture.)

Bike culture in Los Angeles is so vibrant, that even when a ride has been canceled for months or even years people will still show up for it.

Unbeknownst to me, Northeast LA Critical Mass hasn’t happened in months.  But true to the roots of Los Angeles’ "group rides" culture, it just takes a couple of people to bring back a group ride.  In this case nine first-time NE Critical Mass riders showed up at the appointed time and place, the Highland Park Gold Line Station, and after waiting around just to be certain the time wasn’t wrong on the C.I.C.L.E. Calendar we took to the streets, our own mini-mass of riders.

Six of the massers were friends of a rider named "O.T." and varied in skill and experience from a rider on a road bike for the first time to a fifteen year old who was riding circles around me.  The other rider in addition to myself was an original Midnight Rida who stunned me by introducing himself as "Steve" and not something like "Dj Wheel Roller" or something of the sort.

The nine of us bonded quickly on the hour-long eight mile mini-mass and the eight riders that lived in Highland Park vowed that this would be the first of several rides to bring back Critical Mass to North East L.A.  O.T. picked the route, which took us up Figueroa to Colorado Avenue.  From there we took a left and headed west to Eagle Rock before taking another left south down York Avenue.  At this point we were back at Figueroa Avenue and Steve had peeled off with  shout of "See you next month!"  The group of friends pedaled off to a house party, and I took a right to head back to the Gold Line.

While the ride was short, it had many of the attributes of Critical Mass.  The hooting and hollering, riding in group formation, and even talking to curious drivers who wondered what in the world was going on.  There wasn’t an "us versus them vibe" and it more resembled San Fernando Valley’s mass than it did L.A.’s or points west.

So, was I witness to the rebirth of Critical Mass for Highland Park, or was last Friday a one-time affair?  If I hear anything about future rides on the East Side, I’ll be sure to let you know.  If not, it was a pleasure to take a ride on the east side.

  • Anonymous

    Great job with Critical Mass in NELA! Are there plans to have one for South Central/Southeast cities (like Maywood, HP, Bell, S.G., etc.)? They do have the some pretty good streets for a bike ride. South Gate has a Class I bike lane along Southern. I ride it to work.

  • Marcotico

    For those behind the Orange Curtain, Costa Mesa Critical mass has been gathering steam and is a pretty fun ride. It is also nice, because it has a non-confrontational ethos. Some of the regular core have reported talking to Costa Mesa and Santa Ana PD and explaining what the ride is about. Costa Mesa PD said they are supportive, just don’t block the entire road way. The Mass takes a lane or two, but lets cars pass, and only blocks red lights when it makes sense (such as when most of the pack has made it through).

    Info can be found at http://www.myspace.com/costamesacriticalmasss.

    Riders start meeting at 6 pm but the ride rarely gets started before 7 pm. The meeting point is in front of the Rooster Cafe on St. Clair St., near the LAB and the CAMP off Bristol and Randolph streets.

  • We did it again this month! Half a dozen riders strong. Yay!

  • Eric

    You should post it on http://MidnightRidazz.com if you’d like to attract more riders.

  • It’s here again tonight. See what up!