By Kathy Michaels
At nine months pregnant, Marcia Taylor was certainly one of the more noticeable entries in this weekend’s critical mass ride.
“We just were careful has we went over bumps,” joked her partner Marc Nimchuk, as they and other cyclists chatted outside the Rotary Centre for the Arts following the event.
Kidding aside, Taylor explained the reason she took to pedaling along with the 100 or so other Kelowna residents Saturday afternoon was simply a matter of making the right choices for both now and the future.
“I think it’s important to make all decisions while being mindful of the next generation,” she said. “Everything we do now will affect them — so park your car and ride a bike.”
Both she and Nimchuk pedal their way to work every morning, and have made a concerted effort to live close to where they need to be as a means to lessening their reliance on cars.
It was a sentiment that was popular among the crowd that afternoon, who came from all parts of the social spectrum.
And it was the diversity of those who participated that made the event so appealing to event organizer and Kelowna city councillor Angela Reid.
“We had grandparents, pregnant mums, people with ghetto blasters tied to them — all types of action oriented participants,” she said.
“This was a powerful way to reach people, and it way exceeded expectations.”
The ride was organized as part of 350.org’s International Day of Climate Action. According to the group’s website over 4,300 grassroots actions in 171 countries are being planned for Saturday. The organization’s name refers to 350 parts per million, the level climate scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere — the current level is 387 ppm.
While lessening climate change is an effort the majority of humans can get behind, critical mass rides haven’t always had the same kind of buy in.
They were once considered an act of protest, aimed at turning attention to the need for cities to build up the infrastructure needed to make cycling a viable option for all.
Kelowna’s version, however, was far from an act of social protest. As riders made their way along the route, they were accompanied by local RCMP officers who ensured safety was maintained.
“This wasn’t meant to be antagonistic,” said Reid. “It was about raising awareness, and it was a great success.”