City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Critical Mass Edinburgh FAQ

Critical Mass on the Royal Mile Edinburgh

What is it?
Critical Mass has been described in many ways. "A spontaneous happening", "a party on wheels," "an organised coincidence". In simple terms, it's a bike ride with a lot of other cyclists. On the last Friday of every month, cyclists in cities around the world get together and ride through the city streets.

Sounds like a parade?
It's not a parade because there is no set course and no leaders or organisers. The person at the front decides where they want to go and the mass follows.

But wouldn't that mean cyclists would be blocking traffic?
As they say on Critical Mass rides, "We're not blocking traffic. We are traffic."

Who can join in?
Anyone. It's free. You just turn up on your bike or self-propelled machine. All ages take part and importantly it's for all levels of experience. One of the reasons that city authorities have grown to tolerate Critical Mass - and even take part themselves in rides - is that they realise it's a great way for new cyclists to experience what it's like riding in safety through the city. The world needs more cyclists.

I thought Edinburgh's Critical Mass was over?
It has come and gone over the years, but it sparked back to life in September 2006 and rides now take place regularly on the last Friday of every month.

Where is it?
It starts at the foot of the Mound outside the art gallery.

What time does it start?
Meet 5.30pm. Ride at 6pm. Last Friday of every month.

How did Critical Mass start?
Critical Mass as a phenomenon originated in San Francisco in the early Nineties. Cyclists found the experience of riding around the city in numbers so empowering that they made it a regular event. As word of their rides spread, hundreds started taking part. Then thousands. A movement was born, Critical Mass -- except it was one where there were no leaders and no political goals, other than to get people out of their cars and on to their bikes, legs or public transport.

How many cities take part in Critical Mass?
Critical Mass leapt with astounding speed, via the internet, from California to cities around the world. Hundreds of cities take part. Some rides number in the tens of thousands. Edinburgh's got a way to go yet...

How safe are Critical Mass rides?
Critical Mass rides are generally peaceful and safe. Families and young children take part. You will certainly feel safer than riding alone on busy roads.

Are there any Critical Mass films out there?
Watch San-Francisco filmmaker Ted White's Nineties classic documentary We Are Traffic on Google video. Check out Still We Ride for the problems New York has faced and You Never Bike Alone, a new 80 minute documentary about Critical Mass and bike culture in Vancouver, Canada.

Where can I find out more about Edinburgh cyling and Critical Mass?
Check out news at our links for Edinburgh cycling, and if you are looking for reports of Edinburgh critical mass and biking events then try or