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Nice work Chicago! Thankfully Critical Mass didn’t happen Friday, but #CoronaMass did.

1:49 PM CDT on March 30, 2020

Before you yell at videographer Mark Creasy for going on a group ride during the pandemic, note that he was the only participant. Image: Mark Creasy

Critical Mass is an awesome bicycle parade-protest that helps push for more bike-friendly cities, and celebrates the joy of cycling, and life in general. But doing a big group ride during a global pandemic would have created a dangerous risk of viral transmission. As such, we pleaded with Chicago cyclists not to show up for the monthly ride on Friday. Instead, we asked people to do their own #CoronaMass by taking a solo spin, or riding with household members or a friend or two, maintaining 6'+ "social distance" to avoid exposure to respiratory droplets.

I'm pleased to report that almost all Chicagoans did the right thing by not showing up for Critical Mass on Friday night. (The fact that it was raining probably helped.) Longtime Masser Juan Dominguez passed by Daley Plaza during the usual gathering time on his way to visit his storage space, where he saw a lone cyclist who had missed the memo. "He didn't understand it was cancelled," so Dominguez set him straight.

Juan Dominguez, taking no chances with COVID-19 exposure, and the lone Masser at Daley Plaza.
Juan Dominguez, taking no chances with COVID-19 exposure, and the lone Masser at Daley Plaza.

Despite our warning, videographer Mark Creasy insisted on going on a group ride on the Lincoln Park nature walk Friday evening. But fortunately he did it alone. Don't worry, he said, "We made sure to stay six feet apart."

After wrapping up my editorial duties, I made my way downtown in the rain to get a few miles in and check out the scene. It is definitely eerie to see the usually-bustling Loop almost completely depopulated during the pandemic.

What State Street would look like if Chicago was hit by a neutron bomb. Photo: John Greenfield

When I got to Daley Plaza, I was pleased to see that the giant Picasso sculpture had a message for local cyclists. (OK, I put it there, but still.)

Photo: John Greenfield
Photo: John Greenfield

So good job not showing up, Chicago cyclists. While I'd normally be bummed if the local Critical Mass ride, which has taken place every single month since October 1997, didn't happen, in this case I'm very pleased that it didn't occur. After all, our city needs every bike advocate we can get, so we can't afford to lose any of them to COVID-19.

Here are some tips on preventing the spread of the coronavirus, and advice for Chicagoans on what to do if you think you may have been exposed to the virus. 

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