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Happy 20th to the granddaddy of Occupy and Anonymous: SF Critical Mass!
Leon Barrett's profile photoBrian Karlak's profile photo
Yeah, but Critical Mass is so annoying about it. "Let us show you why you should be more careful about obeying traffic laws by totally breaking all the traffic laws."
You're missing the point, Leon.  Critical Mass isn't about convincing drivers to pay more attention to traffic laws.  It's about building a dynamic political constituency.

When I first moved to San Francisco, riding down Market Street on a bike was nearly suicidal.  Twenty years later, cars aren't allowed on Market during commute hours, and packs of bicyclists ride safely together.  There's even a serious debate about a completely car-free Market.  And that's just one part of the comprehensive bicycle lane network that now spans the city.  None of that was here twenty years ago. 

All of this is a direct result of Critical Mass and the SFBC.  The sheer number of participants in forced city leaders to recognize that bicyclists were an organized and vocal constituency that they had to listen to.  That translated into a seat at the table in city and transit planning.

Democracy in action.  It's a wonderful thing, even if it seems a bit annoying at times. 
The Examiner, a paper that has had its share of anti-bike tirades, puts it best:

"Two decades ago, when Critical Mass started, the idea that bicyclists also deserved space on San Francisco’s streets was not as well-accepted as it is today. Cars ruled the road, and the dangerous space on the edges was where cyclists rode — if they were brave enough. But Critical Mass brought to the forefront the idea that bikes, too, deserved a safe space on the streets."

... and ... 

"When the riders of Critical Mass hit the streets this Friday for the anniversary ride, they will stop cars in their tracks and halt Muni buses while the bikes go by. But instead of complaining about your own personal inconvenience, take the time to think about your mode of transportation and contemplate whether you have ever had to protest to make sure you were safe during your own commute."
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