I’ve heard of a flashmob, but I hadn’t heard of a flashride until today. My initial reaction: Brilliant.
Today, hundreds of cyclists are set to meet at The Mall to the Houses of Parliament, in London to ensure that legislators truly have them in mind when they table the issue of cycling safety, in wake of the ‘Cities Fit for Cycling’ campaign launch by The Times.
I’ve taken part in a local Critical Mass ride here in Edmonton. This was a couple years ago, and to be honest, though at the time I enjoyed it and found it to be very positive on the whole, I still wasn’t totally sure I really ‘got it’. I still wondered if it didn’t create more ill will, than good. I understood what the organizers were trying to achieve, but despite the largely positive reaction that I saw from the motorist, I wasn’t sure CM was truly succeeding in getting its message across by riding en mass through downtown during rush hour on a Friday. I am a cyclist, and a passionate one, and I’ve been behind the wheel stuck behind a CM event and to be honest, I’ll admit that all it did was irk me. It was a Friday. I was excited to get home and get on with my weekend, and here are a bunch of people on bikes seemingly holding me up for no good reason, other than to purposely hold me up. In that moment, it took some perspective to see beyond that line of thinking, and actually view it as a positive, and peaceful demonstration for cycling awareness and safety. Should you be interested, you can read my original thoughts on the day that I rode with the CM group here.
There is another way to look at this kind of peaceful demonstration, though… And it wasn’t until I read this article today about the flashride that I was reminded of it. Sure, being inconvenienced by a bunch of slow moving cyclist is going to be seen by most motorists as a piss off – but sometimes, it takes a large peaceful demonstration to create the awareness you need to achieve the social change you’re looking for. The visual created by a mass ride is impactful. It proves that there are in fact a lot of cyclists out there, and that they come from all walks of life, and not just a bunch of cliché waster, pan-handling hippies, giving the finger to The Man. To the contrary, the cycling demo spans the spectrum, from the homeless, to middle-class families, to the C-level exec who rips it up in local Cat 2 road crits.
Bikes are the transportation of the people, and in my opinion, we always need to keep bike transpo in mind when it comes to a healthy community, and of course city planning. The Love London, Go Dutch campaign helps to do exactly that, incenting candidates in the upcoming London Mayoral elections to focus on the safety of ‘vulnerable’ road users, like cyclists and pedestrians, in their transportation policy.
As vehicle traffic, bike traffic and pedestrian traffic all increase in our communities, and the risk of accident incident rates increase, it’s great to see major cities, world class cities like London taking the lead, and addressing the associated challenges. It sets a good example, and will help blaze the trail for the rest of us.
Read more about the flashride.