Sunday, August 21, 2005

Pedal Power to the People

(Police motorcycle in the background) Something amazing happened on York Street last night. Over 2000 cyclists streamed by my place at about 11:00 pm and completely took over the street. First I heard the sounds; hooting, talking, laughing, ringing their bells. I went outside into the cool night air and was totally surprised to see hundreds and hundreds of these happy riders cruising by. I kept thinking that I should go inside and get my video camera but I was sure that it would end soon and I would miss the action. The first wave that I saw completely occupied the two lanes of York going south; four to six abreast, there were no cars. The silent whooshing of these night riders dominating the street brought me a feeling of what might be. I kept watching as they cruised by, a motorless alternative to the usual noise and exhaust spewing cars and motorcycles. They were laughing and joking as they rode, some in costume, some on “built for twos”, others bedecked in mini-lights, kids, parents, grandparents, a veritable party on wheels. And still they kept on coming. Literally thousands were participating in the river of alternative … what? Was this the Critical Mass movement? Nope, that’s on the 3rd Friday of each month. After about 10 minutes I finally saw a car trapped in the stream – a black stretch limo. Later I saw a single motorcycle cop cruising at speed. He pulled over and just watched. After 15 minutes I went inside and got my video camera. Although the stream had diminished somewhat when I returned a minute later, it was still impressive. Ooops, someone took a spill. Those around him exclaimed “whoooops” and parted carefully to avoid further accidents. Back on the bike after a few joking jeers from friends, the parade continued. At one point there appeared three cars amidst the stream. They were aggressively honking and racing their engines, but to no avail…what were they going to do, run over a few kids to exert their supremacy? No…their powerful poison pistons were rendered impotent … their occupants reduced to hollering and waving their fists out the window… to the laughter of those pedaling nearby. Eventually the stream diminished to groups of 20 to 30, packaged by the traffic light at the intersection upstream. But they continued to come … and laugh, and wave, and demonstrate the power of the people to quietly upset the status quo in a way I had never before witnessed. While watching the video later to extract the frame-grabs above, I Googled and found what I guess must be the origin of this amazing event, the Moonlight Classic. What a wonderful event! It was a sight to behold, and somehow brought me new hope in a peak-oil, Iraq-lies, Bush-Boy-in-the-Bubble world. Pedal power to the people!


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