Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Bici Crítica madrileña?
A: It's Madrid critical mass. We're a group of riders that get together every last Thursday of the month in Cibeles, by the Post Office building, at 20:00h. We ride our bikes on a daily basis and once a month we pedal together in an organized coincidence, a celebration of an alternative and more friendly mean of transport, a vindication of another way of moving around and living the city.
Q: What is a critical mass?
A: It's a march --a monthly cyclist celebration held in many cities around the world to celebrate and vindicate the bike as a mean of transport. It's a once-in-a-month bike ride that takes place in different cities around the world to feature bikes as an urban mean of transport. It's some sort of fun vindication --to stand up for our rights to safe city riding.
Some of its mottos are: 'We're not blocking traffic. We are traffic' or 'Ride daily. Celebrate monthly'.
The term originated in the bike documentary 'The Return of the Scorcher' (1992), where it was used to define the bike riders accumulation in uncontrolled crossroads till they reach certain amount, a critical mass, which allows them to cross together safely
That year in San Francisco, critical mass began to be organized. Within a year, they gathered 500 cyclists. From that moment on, this movement spread along USA first, and then to the rest of the world.
Check this website for more info: You can find a summary in this Wikipedia entry:
Q: Why Bici Crítica [lit: critical bike]?
A: Because, from the bike rider perspective, it aims to feature a critical view to the current city planning and urban mobility, based on private motor vehicles. Cars jam the traffic, pollute the air, weary both pedestrians and drivers, and they are expensive and selfish.
Q: When? Where?
A: In Plaza de Cibeles, by the Post Office building, every last Thursday of the month at 20:00h (give or take 30 minutes). We say hello, inform the rest of the route and set out. Sometimes we stay after the ride in order to talk about the ride itself or bikes in general.
Q: What's the route?
A: The route varies each time, but it always starts with a ride to Neptuno or Atocha and then back to Cibeles again. If there's time, we ride around Plaza de Cibeles. It's usually a 5 kilometres ride and it takes about an hour to finish it, but everyone is free to join or part whenever he/she wants.
Ordinarily, the route is decided on the eve of ride in the distribution list. Anyone can suggest a specific itinerary, which should have some significance (potential bike routes, dangerous areas for riders, reaching an area where urban biking is encouraged...).
Q: What should I bring?
A: Well, your bike (or skate, if you are a skater) and your thrill. Try carrying some lights, since it's dark at 20:00 in the winter.
There are also fun-themed bicicríticas (Halloween, Christmas, Carnival, spring, etc) and activist ones (bike-lanes demanding, traffic-easing of a given quarter...). In any case, each one can wear wherever he/she wants. Some like to wear costumes; some don't. Some wear a helmet and reflective vest; some don't. Some carry signs and banners; some don't.
Q: How do we ride?
A: The only must is to create a bunch as tight as possible, since mass is the watchword. Here are some recommendations: ride thisclose, keeping cars outside to increase our own safety; riding fast speeds up the tour and minimizes the trouble we might cause; if possible, use every lane except for the bus lane; traffic lights are intended only for the lead of the bunch, the rest must try not to stop at the crossroads, breaking the group; blocking side streets makes this easier --everyone must collaborate in the blocking and help keeping the bunch together; as far as possible, give the way to pedestrians.
These are not written on stone, but advice accepted by the majority. For our own safety, it's good to keep the group bound together --just follow the wheel from the cyclist behind you and make sure the one after you is doing the same.
It's a fun ride. Violent behaviour is not welcomed. Drivers are potential riders... smile and explain to him/her what Bici Crítica is.
Q: Who's after this?
A: Bici Crítica has no leaders, only common goals. The internet forum is intended for communication, but anyone can participate. There are no political groups or associations behind, alhough some participants are involved in other movements. It's a coincidental ride, no more, no less.
Q: How does it promote itself?
A: By distributing fliers. You'll find them on the web. Download some, photocopy them, cut them away and share them out among the bikes, parked or in movement. Mouth to ear (bike to bike) allowed this initiative created by few people to grow stronger into a mass monthly meeting.