My first and only Critical Mass (CM) until yesterday had been in Berlin, sometime around 2007 I think. It wasn't all exactly great: The police had a history of being assholes, leading to a low turnout and a confrontational atmosphere. In the cities I've lived in since there either were not CMs, or they had similar issues as the ones in Berlin. When I saw that there would be a CM in Stuttgart, I thought I'd give it another try.
Because I currently live almost 50 kilometers from Stuttgart, I had to leave quite early to make it in time. The weather forecast predicted rain, but I was determined to go—and the rain never materialized anyway. When I arrived at the meeting point, it quickly became clear that this CM experience would be quite different. The crowd was way larger and it consisted of a quite different demographic. There were kids, there were lots of middle-aged and older folks, some of them on very fancy bikes, and the hipster-on-a-fixie ratio was pretty low.
The political situation and the attitudes of drivers apparently makes it necessary to not follow the principle of “CM is not a protest” but instead run the ride as a political manifestation with a fixed route and a police escort. The upside is that this reduces confrontations and makes the ride appealing to a wider audience; the downside is that it also reduces the spontaneity and led to constant stop-and-go when the police escort made us wait at many intersections.
It's hard to estimate how large the crowd was, but I guess it was well over 500, maybe even close to a 1000 people.
|Shaft drive bike completely wrapped in inner tubes...|
|One of the few hipsters, or: me|
|One of two awesome mobile soundsystems!|
|Stuttgart is pretty hilly|
|It's not Critical Mass if there aren't any tallbikes|
|Approaching the Schwabtunnel connecting Stuttgart West and Stuttgart East|
It was nice riding on some roads that are usually off-limits to cyclists, including two tunnels and one of the main arterial going through Stuttgart. Corking worked pretty well and the amount of angry honks wasn't too bad.
|Making a U-turn and occupying both sides of the road|
Edit: Stuggi.tv had a nice segment (in German), too: