GUATEMALA CITY – Between the black smoke-belching chicken buses and the mass of cars that congest the streets of Central America’s largest capital, it’s hard to imagine a bicycle, much less a mass of them. With one of the highest crime rates in Latin America, it’s not a place I was planning to explore on two wheels.
But there’s safety in numbers, and that’s the idea behind Critical Mass, a bicycling movement launched in 1992 in San Francisco that has now spread to more than 300 countries.
“We don’t block traffic; we are traffic!” is the group’s motto, and as an urban bicyclist confronted with rude, honking or just heedless motorists I’ve enjoyed expressing that sentiment, alone and in mass rides in San Antonio (MS 150), Houston, Texas (Bohemeo’s Bicycle Club) and Guadalajara, Mexico (Al Teatro en Bici and GDL en Bici).
So when I saw on Twitter that Masa Critica Guatemala was planning a ride my first weekend here, I decided to drop them a line to see if they might have a bike to spare.