What’s Critical Mass?
It’s designed to educate motorists and advocate for bicycle safety. We meet at a specific location at a specific time and ride. It’s really not organized, no one leads; we just meander through town as a group. In recent years, it developed into an outlet for disgruntled riders to get in a group and yell at cars. We’re getting away from that and turning it back into what critical mass was and should be. People are starting to realize that no politician will want to help out some cyclist who just yelled and threw a half-empty cup of beer at him.
Is Critical Mass just for hard-core bikers?
The reaction people give me when they find out I’m into biking and they’re semi-interested in being involved, they're like, “Oh, I would, but I’m such a horrible biker.” But that’s why we’re getting bike lanes, that’s why we’re doing this. It’s not for people like me. We reap the benefits too, but we don’t mind riding in traffic. It can be annoying, but we don’t mind following the laws. The bike lanes are there to entice people, and make it so much easier for people to ride. And that is one of the reasons that people like myself or other cyclists fight for them. It makes it easier for us, and it also gets more people on a bike. Then there’s more people at Critical Mass, or more people on bikes to fight the inversion … just more people on bikes, that’s what we’re going for.
What are your plans for combining Critical Mass with Buy Nothing Day?
We will go on the Critical Mass ride, and once that route starts going down that way, we start going into the shopping centers. Riding down some a residential street saying “Don’t buy, don’t buy,” wouldn’t do any good. Whirlmart is a peaceful, silent protest consisting of people entering and leaving the store at a specific time, and pushing a shopping cart around empty for the allotted time—saying nothing, doing nothing, in a line, and once the time is up, just leaving the shopping carts in a line and leaving. Generally people will dress up wearing T-shirts with specific propaganda. We choose to dress as zombies.
But isn’t consumer spending the key to fixing the economy?
I disagree totally. The amount people believe they have to spend nowadays is just exorbitant. It’s to the point where, if your dog chews on the cord on your lamp, that’s considered a broken lamp and it needs to be thrown away. And it’s thrown away and put in a landfill and it’s replaced with a brand-new one that you go to the store and buy. New resources are used, more plastic made, etc.—instead of just fixing the cord. And that’s the consumption I personally am fighting against. Do spend your money, though. Go to a local business and support them. If they are making a product that you can’t make at home or you don’t have the time or the resources, and they’re a good company and a good product, then support them. Give them your money. And get a good product in return.
Buy Nothing Day has received flak from some who view it as a pointless, privileged protest. What do you think?
I recognize that almost all people who choose to participate in BND or something similar are very privileged, and yes, I am part of that group. However, I feel it to be the duty of people who can afford doing something to save our planet and make life easier for those less privileged; BND is a step in that direction in more way than one.
Are you participating in Carnivalesque Rebellion Week?
Personally I think some of that is flashy. It’s been talked up as a rebellion. Go out into the streets and yell it up high. I’m not too big on that. There’s a poster that floats around that says “Rebel?” and it has someone holding a Molotov cocktail and a pen in the other. I’ve always chosen the pen. I don’t want to be arrested. I don’t want to just blow shit up, as tempting as it is. I’d rather go on the other side of it—get laws written and change things on a higher level. It’s not to say that I don’t go to the other side on occasion. But I’ve realized that striking away at the bottom takes a long time, and it’s destructive. But going straight to the top and changing it where it comes from, it gets a lot more done.