Friday, July 31, 2009

critical mass toronto


eastbound on bloor

down university

down university

after years of wanting to, andre and i finally joined critical mass - a massive, group bicycle ride that stops all traffic due to the sheer number of cyclists on the road. the event happens in many cities around the world on the same day. originally the movement was started to try to garner attention to the lack bike lanes in urban areas. in some cities like budapest, upwards of 50,000 cyclists come out!

it was so liberating to be able to bike in the middle of major thoroughfares during rush hour with no worries of getting cut off, having cars turn into you or 'door prizes'. also the sense of community was huge. there were cyclists of all sorts, from the spandex road bike riders, to the fixies, to people on vintage bikes and even kids - everybody happily bicycling together.

it was also interesting to watch as the veteran critical massers would ride ahead and block traffic for the safe passage of the rest of the group through intersections that had turned red. veteran critical massers were also quick to diffuse situations with angry drivers by performing trumpet solos or 'come on leave it alone, let's keep on riding.'

during the ride, we encountered a lot of smiles, some puzzled looks and even angry drivers. there was even an incident where a man rammed his nice honda fit into a cyclist! and sadly, despite police help through some intersections, a girl was later ticketed.

until riding with the group, i never realized what a politically charged event this was. some even calling it a 'protest' against cars. others call it a celebration of clean air and city living. either way it was great fun and hearing all our bike bells ringing through the streets was really nice.

when i'm back in vancouver, i definitely want to take part in critical mass! tonight, the expected turn out in vancouver is 3000 and police have basically told drivers to stay away from the downtown core.

some better photos of the event:
while waiting at a light on yonge
the talented trumpeter
a panorama

more links to other critical masses:
how a critical mass in new york became a violent encounter with police
critical mass vancouver info
history of critical mass and how to start one

1 comment:

FixedXorBroken said...

Thanks for linking to my photos.