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An event typically held on the last Friday of every month in cities around the world where bicyclists and other self-propelled commuters take to the streets en masse. While the ride was originally founded with the idea of drawing attention to how unfriendly the city was to cyclists, the leaderless structure of Critical Mass makes it impossible to assign it any one specific goal. In fact, the purpose of Critical Mass is not formalized beyond the direct action of meeting at a set location and time and travelling as a group through city or town streets.
Critical Mass rides vary greatly in many respects, including frequency and number of participants. For example, many small cities have monthly Critical Mass rides with fewer than twenty riders which offer safety in numbers to cyclists in those locales, while at the opposite extreme, in what have been the largest events using the name Critical Mass, cyclists in Budapest, Hungary hold only two rides each year on 22 September (International Car Free Day) and 22 April (Earth Day). The 'Budapest style' attracts tens of thousands of riders. The April 20, 2008 Budapest ride participation was generally estimated at 80,000 riders.
The first ride took place in September 1992 in San Francisco. At that time, the event was known as Commute Clot and was composed of a couple of dozen cyclists who had received flyers on Market Street.