Kidical Mass is a nationwide organization that aims to help teach parents and kids that riding as a family is safe, fun, and practical. The rides follow the ideas of Critical Mass (hence the name), such as Massing Up and promoting the cycling lifestyle. Here in Chicago one focus is on learning how to ride safely on city streets. Kids and parents learn how to properly use hand signals, obey cycling laws, pass properly, and ride with a group of people. Most importantly these families learn to ride with confidence.
To make the rides as accessible as possible for new riders, the pace is usually between 5-6 mph, rides are around 4 miles long, and take about an hour. Occasionally there will be a costume contest, or a bicycle decorating contest, which is always a hit. There is usually music provided by Todd, one of the great volunteers who comes out to almost every ride rain or shine.
It’s hard for me to quantify the number of ways Kidical Mass has affected my life. I’ve met so many amazing people- photographers, artists, musicians, mechanics, and awesome kidswho understand how positive bicycles can be. I’ve been able to connect with other bike shops, improve my bike handling and safe riding skills, and learn a lot about cargo bikes.
Most importantly, Kidical Mass has proved to me that life without a car is not only do-able, but that a family can thrive, carless, in the city. Many of the families who organize and ride in CKM do everything normal families do- just without a car. They take the kids to and from school and activities, ride to work and get groceries, all by bike. CKM is a wonderful place to meet environmentally conscious cyclists who are really making a difference by teaching the next generation how to ride safe, smart, and happy.
CKM always need volunteers, especially people who can help with traffic control and keeping the group together. Confident riders with older children or don’t have kids, are always welcome. If you would like to volunteer, get in touch with one of the ride organizers, or just show up! The extra help is always appreciated.
If your neighborhood does not have a CKM ride and you would like to get one organized, get in touch with CKM.
Photos by Rob of Photogenic Chicago, taken at Lincoln Park CKM June 22, 2014