A Guide for Critical Mass Organizers.
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
PREPARING FOR CM RIDES:
* The most efficient way to recruit is to talk to friends and people
* 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
* 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 its own.
* 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 minutes.
* 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 the middle.
* 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 bike.
* 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 for.
* 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
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 and bureaucrats.
* 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
* 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!