We Are Traffic

We Are Traffic! chronicles the history and development of the
“Critical Mass” bicycle movement– one of the most spirited and
dynamic social/political movements of the apathetic 90’s. In over 200
cities in 14 different countries, Critical Mass has now become a
monthly ritual of reclaiming the streets by bicycle activists riding
en masse.

With traffic congestion, pollution, and road rage on the rise, growing
numbers around the world are advocating for transportation
alternatives, and Critical Mass is at the cutting edge of this

We Are Traffic! tracks this leaderless, grassroots movement from its
beginnings in San Francisco in 1992 to its spread across the globe.
With a radical direct-action approach the participants of Critical
Mass are celebrating the bicycle and in turn taking on perhaps the
century’s most sacred cow: the automobile.
Presenting both the successes and failures of this unique movement We
Are Traffic! shows how Critical Mass has brought together complete
strangers in an exuberant, commercial-free public space filled with
creativity and unpredictability. In its efforts to raise awareness
Critical Mass has both inspired and challenged the public while often
confounding public officials and police departments.

We Are Traffic! is a fascinating analysis of a modern political
movement: Critical Mass–which challenges the very notion of what a
political movement should look like and how it should function.

We Are Traffic! investigates vibrant examples of
transportation-related art created and displayed in public places,
focusing on the work of mural artist Rigo23, whose bold traffic-sign
motifs ask questions instead of giving commands. Also highlighted is
the work of other Critical Mass-associated
artists including Jim Swanson, Beth Verdekal, and the mysterious “San
Francisco Department of Public Art”.

Provocative and entertaining, this documentary presents a side of
Critical Mass not seen in mainstream media and illustrates the amazing
geographic spread of Critical Mass, providing glimpses of Critical
Masses in Austin,TX, Eugene, OR, Chapel Hill, NC, New York, NY,
Chicago, IL, Copenhagen, London and Sydney.

We Are Traffic! celebrates modern grassroots politics, free expression
and the potential for revitalized public spaces.

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  1. I’m a firm believer that if you’re going to ride in the street you should have to maintain a decent speed and if you can’t you should stay on the sidewalk.  I’m ride road bike and I think 80% of cyclists out there belong on the sidewalk.  You should also have to demonstrate a certain level of competence and prove you can ride in a straight line.  Just about saw someone get nailed a couple days ago as they zig zagged up a hill over a freeway overpass.

  2. Thanks for this nice post!

  3. This documentary is awesome. I had no idea how interesting the philosophical basis behind Critical Mass — nor the fascinating origin of the name. I must say the stupid political/police reaction documented reminded me a lot of how the police treated the utterly peaceful and cooperative “Bike bloc” cyclists in Toronto during the G20 (see link below for one story). Some things seem to never change.