Critical Mass cyclists mock Grand Prix

Melbourne Critical Mass has a reputation for visiting the site of the Melbourne Grand Prix, which takes over Albert Park for eight months of the year for staging the Formula 1 race in March.

With the world moving into a period threatened by dangerous climate change due to a failure to curb greenhouse gas emissions, it is about time this event was shown for what it is: a waste of resources, a gross contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, and fostering a culture and behaviour of alcohol abuse and unsustainable car use.

As we cycled past some of the Grand Prix crowd one person called out "Put some fun between your legs: ride a bike".

Peak Oil has arrived, and it is only the recession and downturn in world trade and economic activity that is keeping oil prices down for the moment. For several years bike sales have been greater than car sales. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that Australians purchased 1.2 million bicycles in 2008. This is the ninth consecutive year in which Australians have bought more bicycles than cars. The trend of soaring bicycle sales is a global phenomenon. In 2007, 130 million bicycles were sold worldwide (Earth Policy Institute, 2007)

View photos on Takver's flickr site



From: John Mescall
Date: Sat, 28 Mar 2009 15:28:49 +1100
Subject: Thanks for Friday's ride!

Hello critical-massers.
I was one of the people forced to drive behind you at a snail's pace on
Friday evening on Canterbury Road in Albert Park. Now, I'm all for anything
that "transforms a dreary commute into a radiant celebration of a vibrant
urban life" as your site suggests.

However, by deliberately blocking both lanes of Canterbury Road at a time
when the adjacent streets were also blocked due to the grand prix, all you
effectively did was create a little fun for yourselves at the expense of

I guess, given that I drive a car, I'm somehow fair game. But put yourself
in my shoes for just a minute:

I've finished work in Southbank, and I need to drive home to take my
disabled daughter to her physical therapy session. (trams and bikes don't
really cut it when you're in a wheelchair). And as I approach Canterbury
Road, a group of cyclists deliberately blocks the road, adding 15 minutes to
my trip. 15 minutes is nothing when you're just pissing about on your bike,
enjoying a radiant celebration. But when it means that your daughter is
going to be late for a treatment she needs, well... those minutes take on a
whole new meaning.

Naturally, I'm getting incredibly frustrated and angry. I can't get past
you, and I can't turn off. So my daughter waits. But hey - it's all in good
fun, right? A radiant celebration, yes? I even had one of you tell me how
terrible the traffic was... twice. Oh, that was just hilarious.

So thanks for that. Thanks for making me late, and causing my daughter to
miss half of her physical therapy session. Thanks for deliberately blocking
my passage, and laughing about it to my face - knowing that because I'm in a
car, there's little I can do that wouldn't land me in court.

I get public protests... I get spontaneous fun... I get the car vs bike
debate. But you were just acting like selfish jerks, and were no better than
the redneck petrolheads inside the track. No better at all. Your cause may
be different, but your methods and selfishness are pretty much identical.

I'd imagine part of your agenda is to piss people off, and watching drivers
lose their nut probably gives you something to laugh about over your
post-ride meal of home-brewed Coopers and foraged food from your last
dumpster dive, so you'll probably be trashing this as soon as you've read

But I just wanted to let you know that I won't ever forget that you went out
of your way to make me late for something that is very important to one of
my children. You may have enjoyed yourselves last night, but you did so at
my daughter's expense. Congratulations. You must feel very proud of

Hi John,
I am sorry you were inconvenienced by the traffic. With all the road closures and extra crowds with the Grand Prix and a bunch of cyclists also parading it must have been very frustrating.

Perhaps you didn't leave yourself plenty of leeway regarding all the unexpected obstacles to getting home - and with the Grand Prix you should have expected some sort of delay and extra obstruction anyway.

Maybe, John, it would have been more efficient to ride to work at Southbank on a bike and ride home again, where you could then use the car to take your daughter to therapy. You may not have been late then.

If all those cyclists on critical mass were people driving to work and back home, that would be 60 more cars on the road. Probably amount to 15 - 20 minutes delay if not more.

For every person who rides a bike, it means there is more room for those people who really do need to use cars, such as yourself in taking your daughter to therapy.

You must feel very proud of your self in using your daughter's condition and several really bad cliches in putting down a bunch of cyclists. Maybe when your not driving your daughter about you could learn to ride a bike to work instead of driving your car into Southbank and filling our roads with single occupant vehicles at peak hour.


If the sixty people were driving home, they would have been observing traffic control signals, and heading in separate directions, not blocking traffic to prove a pseudopolitical point they can't and will never agree on. Your estimated delay melts into insignificance once you divide it into the separate routes people take on their journeys home.

Your 'it's your fault for not leaving enough time' justification of your actions smacks of blame-the-victim. Your advice, "ride to work, then home, then pick up your daughter", fits right in with the typical greener-than-thou "road martyr" attitude -- almost completely separated from the realities the average commuter deals with -- that already alienates CM from many of Melbourne's other commuting and recreational cyclists.

For every person so inconvenienced by CM, so much so that they write a letter, I would argue there are hundreds that are equally inconvenienced but know their opinion is of no interest to you all. This doesn't stop them driving of course. CM has never solicited feedback from the motorists they inconvenience - its 'xerocracy' reinforces and encourages this anonymous, arrogant impunity.

Your bleatings about single occupant vehicles also fails to take into account tradesmen and other professionals who are restricted from cycling (or PT for that matter) because of the need to transport the equipment or goods they use during the day. But don't let that interfere with your cycling nirvana daydreams.

It's time you nongs admitted CM is an act of petty passive aggression. A monthly tantrum of people old enough to know better, and who need to grow up. I dare say John's clichés cut too close for comfort - he had to pin his note with something sharp!