Chicago’s South Side community bike ride wishes the city ‘Happy Friday!’
By Helen Quinn Pasin | October 5, 2020
On Friday, Oct.3, 2020, a diverse group of cyclists met at Nichols Park, in Hyde Park, ready to take over the streets with their decorative glowing bicycles for a 12-13 mile loop around the South Side. Some have been doing similar rides for years and others were there for the first time.
Southside Critical Mass meets on the first Friday of each month for a community bike ride full of enthusiasm and comradery. Locals of all ages, genders, and ethnicities ride in a large group while stopping in to support local restaurants and businesses, all while greeting the community with shouts of “Happy Friday!”
Lifelong cyclist Ojie Murchison, 48, has been riding with Southside Critical Mass since 2016.
He started when he lived in the area but has continued even after moving to the suburbs. “The
purpose of the group is to ride through the community,” Murchison explains, “for visibility,
because we ride in large groups so that pedestrians or cars on the street are able to see us.
Eventually, they’ll learn that we ride together in these streets.”
Murchison is not the only participant who values riding safely through the neighborhood.
Andrea Frazier, 42, has lived in the area for over five years now and mentions that “At night,
in particular, you’re so much more visible and as a woman riding alone there are many times
that it’s better.” Frazier said that riding with this group over the years has given her the confidence
to cycle through different parts of the city and taught her how to navigate certain situations.
Danielle McKinnie, 49, describes the group as a “leaderless ride” and has recently been bringing
her 9-year-old nephew Jay, who loves the opportunity to ride fast and get tasty snacks along the way.
This Friday, the group stopped at Roost Chicken and Biscuits and met up with two other local
cycling groups, Chicago Bike Collective Ride and Equiticity, along the way.
Southside Critical Mass takes a group photo at Nichols Park, 53rd Street and Kimbark, before riding to Roost Chicken and Biscuits on Friday, October 3, 2020 at 6:15 p.m. (Photo/Helen Quinn Pasin)
Long time participant Loren Santow, 64, creates the maps for each ride. He knows the streets of Chicago like the back of his hand, but riding with Southside Critical Mass has made him an even more confident rider. He said he appreciates moving through the city in a “unified freefalling way with other riders.”
Southside Critical Mass is also welcoming to newcomers. Brenda Campos, 34, is from Guadalajara, Mexico, and joined the ride for the first time this week. Campos says “it’s hard to find places in the city or anywhere you can ride bikes collectively. I’m a supporter of the movement to ride in mass. It’s always like a conquest for the cyclists to invade the streets.”
Ojie Murchison, 48, helps organize Southside Critical Mass’s rides for the first Friday of each month. (Photo/Helen Quinn Pasin)
Danielle McKinnie, 49, and her 9-year-old nephew meet other cyclers at Nichols Park as they prepare for a 12-13 mile ride around Chicago. (Photo/Helen Quinn Pasin)
Danielle McKinnie and her nephew share fried chicken from Roost Chicken and Biscuits at 8:15 p.m. on Friday, October 3, 2020. (Photo/Ojie Murchison)
Southside Critical Mass poses for a picture in front of the Chicago Skyline at 9:45 p.m. on October 3, 2020. (Photo/Ojie Murchison)