Critical Mass bike rides still take place here in DC, currently on the last Friday of every month.
The June ride took to the streets about a half hour later than usual to give riders time to assemble after a heavy rainstorm passed through, then set out at about 8:30PM with somewhere around 50 riders.
Critical Mass these days is a social ride, though it has a long history in DC and is rooted in the anarchist-organized rides of the 2001-2003 era. A still earlier series of rides took place in the mid 1990’s organized by Anacostia-Rock Creek Earth Firt! and Car Free DC. Some of those rides took over Beach Drive in afternoon rush hour to the fury of the Park Police. Bike racers often take over Beach Drive today, but since they ride faster than the 25mph speed limit police apparently deem motorists wishing to drive 40mph as having nothing to complain about, thus leaving the racers along.
For years DC’s Critical Mass rides were on the first Fridays of the month do to a conflict with the long-defunct “solidarity rides” of the late 1990s and early 2000s that a bike messenger group organized. When activist participation in Critical Mass waned in the mid to late 2000’s, it was bike messengers and singlespeed riders who saved the rides and kept them going. It was during Occupy in late 2011 that Critical Mass DC shifted back to the international time of the last Friday of each month, with the solidarity rides long gone. In 2013 the rides moved to their current time of normally setting out shortly after 8PM to accomodate more riders. As this is now a social ride timing it to cooincide with rush hour is no longer a priority and it is deemed more important to choose a time that can accomodate the most riders.