Critical mass riders commemorate Hurricane Katrina
By Elizabeth Daley, Bay City News Service
August 27, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - Some 400 Critical Mass bicycle
riders converged upon the streets of San Francisco on Friday to
commemorate the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and remind the
public that oil conservation can diminish natural disasters, said
Amanda Hooshmand, a spokeswoman for Critical Mass.
Critical Mass usually draws quite an eclectic crowd. However,
according to Hooshmand, Friday's ride was particularly impressive
in both size and content.
"I was carrying a banner that said, 'More cars equals more
climate change equals more hurricanes. No more Katrinas!''' Hooshmand
Brian Fleming, a spokesman for the environmental organization
Rising Tide, which partnered with Critical Mass, said, "Many
of us have ridden in Critical Mass rides and we wanted to make
the connection between the oil industry and climate change as
well as the damage to the wetlands in Louisiana that was caused
by the oil industry.''
Fleming said the wetlands were a natural defense against hurricanes
because they absorb storm surges and that a recent study by Louisiana
State University showed that if the wetlands weren't degraded,
some levees would not have broken.
According to Fleming, the U.S. Department of the Interior estimated
that half of the damage to the wetlands is from oil industry activities.
Fleming said that when Hurricane Katrina hit, a huge amount of
oil spilled into residential areas.
"I saw many inches of oil in people's front yards,'' he
Since Critical Mass rides have always had the goal of promoting
bicycling as an alternative to oil-fueled transportation, Hooshmand
said it made sense to partner with an environmental group.
"Critical Mass-ers are...just trying to promote bicycling
as an alternative form of transportation. Cyclists have just as
much right to the roads as cars do,'' Hooshmand said. She said
many different types of people are involved in Critical Mass.
A man in a pink Speedo, a father with his two little girls, and
a man dressed as Jesus were among Friday night's riders.
"There were two guys who welded their bikes together so
they were riding side by side,'' Hooshmand said. "The ride
usually doesn't follow a path, so if you lose the crowd along
the way you could get lost.''
Critical Mass rides in San Francisco take place on the last Friday
of every month at 6 p.m., with riders gathering in Justin Herman
The rides also take place across the world and in Berkeley, Hayward
and Oakland. More information is available at the Web site http://www.critical-mass.org.
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