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Critical Mass takes over Cleveland

BY JAMES O'MALLEY

Oct. 14, 2010

Cleveland Critical MassOn a typical Friday driving through downtown Cleveland, you are likely to hit some form of a traffic jam. If it is the last Friday of the month, that traffic jam might involve a few hundred cyclists taking charge of the streets.

Critical Mass is a cycling event that takes place in major cities across the world. This past year has seen more Clevelanders joining the global movement as part of Cleveland Critical Mass (CCM). Last month’s ride found cyclists engaging in a silent protest to bring attention to cyclists in Cleveland at the sixth annual Ingenuity Fest when they walked their bicycles across the bridge for all to see.

“I like to believe that seeing a big group of people taking over the street will make drivers more aware of the fact that there are bikes out there and they should be on the lookout for them,” said Daniel Utrata, a CSU student and CCM participant. Those planning on attending the October ride are encouraged to meet at Public Square on Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. dressed up in their Halloween costumes for a ghostly ride throughout the downtown streets. Though last year’s October ride only saw about 40 people, it’s likely to be better attended this year.

“I think the recent surge in people coming to bike CCM is not only great for the cycling community, but gives Clevelanders something fun, exciting and different to do one day out of the month,” said Shawn Mariani, a unofficial coordinator of CCM. The July ride saw 100 CCM t-shirts being passed out for free to participants. Riders donned their new yellow shirts with pride as they rode around the city as a cohesive unit of active Clevelanders. However, there are times when the group gets separated.

“There’s always a few Lance Armstrongs going 18 mph up front,” said Mariani. This can be a problem because the group can get spread out as far as a mile from start to end. This is especially troublesome because CCM riders are asked to obey all traffic laws, so the typical ride involves at least one stop midway in order to ‘mass up’. Still, no one seems to mind stopping to join with the group.

“People from all walks of life regularly come to CCM, from doctors to graffiti artists, local television personalities to city planners, and journalists to students,” said CSU alumni Jeffrey Sugalski. The collaborative nature of CCM fosters communication between participants in a friendly nature that truly has to be experienced for ones self.

Cleveland’s critical mass has a Facebook group and website at clevelandcriticalmass.com