I have now gone from being a critical mass virgin to doing 2 in a weekend and then a charity bike ride on Sunday, too. I was hardly out of the saddle, although the three were quite different.
On Friday evening at 6pm I turned up at St Phillips Square for my first Critical Mass ride ever. The Birmingham event has been going (on and off) for a couple of decades now (first Friday of the month) and I have been intending to do it for a while, but always seem to forget or have something else on. The weather was fine this week, though, and there was a good turnout of happy, positive people. We wheeled around the normally intimidating big roads which are usually dominated by cars and lorries with our message that we are traffic too.
There were around 20 of us at the Friday night critical mass and lots of them said they would be out the next day for the ride to the airport, so I left very optimistic. There were no major incidents of drivers getting overly aggressive (which I’m told can happen) and it was a good chance to meet some other cyclists, although I didn’t stick around for the post-ride pint, as I was hungry for tea.
Saturday was the Ride Down the Road and the weather was foul. Almost as cold and wet as you could think of the weather being in May. I suspect that largely due to this the numbers were not as high as we were hoping they would be. The people travelling in to Brum were already committed and so all turned up, but the more local people saw the rain and understandably had second thoughts. Look at the aviation section of the Birmingham Friends of the Earth website for more information on why we were doing this and what the council is doing to prop up Birmingham International Airport.
Even so, it went pretty well, despite the more aggressive nature of some of the drivers along the A45. After a while, we went down to just the one lane to ensure nothing unpleasant happened. A report of the day and picture can be found on the bfoe website. Plane Stupid, Indy Media and the University of Warwick Students’ paper all did reports, too.
On Sunday a friend of mine was doing a charity bike ride to mark the anniversary of a horrific crash she had when cycling that left her with a broken back and needing a lot of care from a specialist spinal injuries clinic. The weather for this was almost perfect and we rode from Canon Hill park along the Rea valley cycle route to Kings Norton and back. Over 120 people took part and it was great to see so many people on bikes having a good time and supporting a good cause at the same time.
If we could get the same number of people who came along on Sunday to do a critical mass and show that we want cyclists to be treated better on the roads, that’d be truly great, so anyone who can, please come along to the next one on the first Friday of next month. Also, support our 20’s plenty campaign to make the roads safer all over the city.