Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Critical Mass - cycling together in Birmingham

Using a push-bike for transport can be pretty stressful. Especially in a city which lacks bike routes but has tons of cars. The stereotype is that we hate cars, they hate us and it makes you believe that cycling is not that much fun. But you are wrong.

Cycling is great. What's more, it is currently the only truly green transport solution for cities. So let's make it more enjoyable by showing the city that cars and bikes are not enemies but fellow users of the same streets. This is why cities all around the world organise Critical Mass (CM) bike rides. The idea of CM is to ride our bikes together to show that we are not alone and if this "demonstration" can reach a critical number people can't avoid us anymore.

And what is the critical number? It depends. For example my city, Budapest, has been organising Critical Masses since 2004. The first event drew 4000 participants which surprised not only the organisers. This number did not stop increasing till we reached eighty thousand participants.

It was exciting to follow during these years how these demonstrations managed so achieve the main goals and changed the whole city! The city council started to build bike routes, modify traffic laws and arranged many new bike shelters. These are great things, but for me, CM is till about FUN. CM is about riding my bike with other people which gives me a feeling that I just can't describe.

You have to try it. Birmingham is not a cycling city (yet), we all know that, but a branch of resolute people are keep encouraging cyclist to join the monthly organised CM (first Friday of each month, meeting point at St.Philip's Cathedral, City Centre at 6 pm.


Even though it is still a small event, (100-120 riders in each month) I find it amazing to participate in it from the beginning and hope that it will reach the critical number at some point in the future. But in the meantime I go to the monthly Birmingham CMs to enjoy the ride, the music, the great atmosphere with my friends and to make some new friends. See you at the next ride on 2nd September.


And for a commuting bike ride together, Birmingham Friends of the Earth is organising Bike Trains together with Sustrans and Push Bikes. Sign up to join one of the five routes on our website.

Zsuzsi Mayer

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