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From: Jo Makepeace
Subject: SchNEWS Issue 449 - Friday 16th April
Date: Thu, 15 Apr 2004 22:27:21 +0100

Critical Mass Birthday Party - 30 Apr 04

Critical Mass London is 10 years old later this month and you're all invited to their birthday party. Critical Mass is a monthly get together of cyclists that happens in hundreds of cities around the world. It started eleven and a half years ago in San Francisco and is a celebration of the alternatives to cars, pollution, accidents and the loss of public spaces and freedoms.

As one cyclist put it "At the end of every workday, thousands of people pour into the streets, in what has become a central ritual of life in the 21st century - the daily commute. For most people, however, getting off work is not cause for celebration, or even relief. The ride home promises frustrating gridlock, disgusting air, and for cyclists, constant threats to safety and well-being. But one day a month, the ritual is transformed. Hundreds of us get together and ride through the streets on bicycles, providing motorists, as well as ourselves, with a vision of how things could be different."

Ultimately, Critical Mass is just a bunch of cyclists riding around together. But the incredible thing is that, in attempting this simple task, so many important and interesting questions come up. Why is there so little open space in our cities, where people can relax and interact, free from the incessant buying and selling of ordinary life? Why are people compelled to organize their lives around having a car? What would an alternative future look like?

So if you're in London April 30th get along to the Southbank at Waterloo, in front of the National Film Theatre, under Waterloo Bridge at 6pm.

For a history of critical mass check out 'Critical Mass-Bicycling's Defiant Celebration' by Chris Carlsson. Available from AK Press, PO Box 12766, Edinburgh, Scotland EH8 9YE

'We aren't blocking traffic, We Are Traffic!' is a movie about Critical Mass showing on the 29 April at Indymedia Cinema @ The Other Cinema London, 11 Rupert Street, London W1 (Leicester Sq).

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