Perhaps I can give some advise. As a political scientist and
environmental activists I have been thinking about what is a good
way of organizing. Use what ever of these if you find them helpful.
These are some things that have been important in making the critical
mass rides a success in Bergen:
PREPARING FOR CM RIDES:
* The most efficient way to recruit is to talk to friends and
people we know.
* We fax a press release at least the day before.
* We leaflet parked bikes. It is very efficient: you can leaflet
400 bikes in 15 minutes!
* We use small leaflets with dates for at least four events. Small
is cheap and people are more likely to hang them up on somewhere
at work or home.
* If you hand a leaflet to somebody, say something like "I
am going and it is great fun. Would you like to come too?".
Make sure that you look like a biker (wear a helmet or something),
so that people realize "who you are".
* The success behind CM is that it does NOT take much preparations.
It is the same people who show up every time. But you have to
work in the beginning to create a Critical Mass that works on
* We have permanent posters in every bike store, at several locations
at the University and at some workplaces. These posters are changed
when the dates go out. It is just a enlarged copy of our leaflet.
THE CM RIDE:
* We open ut with a welcome speech, and then we wait for 10 more
* Somebody has the responsibility to chat with the new people,
and make them feel home.
* Somebody has the responsibility to talk with the press. Often
we have one person in a radio studio while the others are at the
CM. There is always interviews on the spot, too. The person who
deals with the press, should not have other tasks.
* We have one "speech" on a bike political topic given
by one of us or sometimes a politician. This person often gets
their picture and a short interview in the papers.
* we have a short introduction to how we are going to behave in
the traffic, so that everybody understands what is going to happen.
1. We are not trying to stop the traffic, we are trying to be
visible, and create a good name for biking. 2. We keep together:
therefore we behave like a big truck: we keep in one lane, and
if we have started to bike trough a intersection when the lights
change we just continue (there are always cars who do try to come
in from the side, but one biker takes "guard" and is
standing in front of the cars in the intersection so that everybody
can get trough. 3. We have organizers in the front who keep a
slow enough pace and adjust the speed down after every turn so
that we keep to together. 4. we have organizers in the back who
keep the speed up in the back end. 5. The person speaking is in
* We try to give people a sense of empowerment. They can make
a difference, and by participating the DO make a difference.
* We try to give the people who show up a good time. We have different
people talking and chatting while we are waiting for everybody
to show up and we have somebody talking and chanting while we
* We are very predictable. Time, day, how long it takes etc. The
"cost" of participation should be as low as possible.
Do not spend any more time that you have to, the shorter the ride
is, the more people will have a chance to come every time. We
keep our events under 45 minutes.
* We work closely with the environmental and bike organizations
in town. We are all allies, not competitors.
* We have fixed roles at the CM-ride. This way everybody knows
what they are supposed to do. Everything that is not specially
talked about is going to happen the same way as usually.
* We are educating activists, by letting new people try themselves
as public speakers, writing leaflets, talking to the press etc.
This way nobody is indispensable.
AFTER THE RIDE:
* It is important to end each ride with a small speech. It gives
people a good feeling, and us a chance to tell what we need help
* Somebody collects names and addresses of people. One person
is responsible for keeping an address list updated.
* We go for a dinner in a inexpensive restaurant after each CM
ride. This is how we treat ourselves after a jobb well done and
create a good social atmosphere. This where we get new activists!
There are perhaps 3-4 new people at the dinner every time, and
one of them will eventually become an activist.
THE ORGANIZING GROUP:
* We have a organizing group that is split in two. Some of us
work with the CM ride, and try to find some new ideas, gags, T-shirts
and all the fun stuff for CM to be a happening, and not just a
protest. The rest of us is working more with politics: We try
to plan routes for bikers, we find out problems with the present
system, We take pictures and write small reports to politicians
* Our organizing group has meetings once a month between the CM
rides, where we coordinate the work between these two subgroups:
We try always to have a theme for each CM ride, that is used to
select the speakers, the route we are biking, etc.
* Sometimes we invite people to come and tell us something. This
is our opportunity to learn from others, and to tell these politicians,
planners, etc. about our views. Every visiting guest we have had
by, have been quite understanding of our perspectives. Hopefully,
they have learned something too.
* We have a long list of people, their phone numbers, skills and
what they are interested in doing for CM. So we can call the designer,
when we need a design...
* We do not have an income!