Critical Mass 2: I Bike MCR

It was a dark and stormy night…and yet there was still a considerable turnout for Manchester’s Critical Mass. Yesterday marked the start of the I Bike MCR festival which for the next month celebrates cycling in and around Manchester.

Critical mass has a long standing policy of trying to keep the whole ride as one throughout. Of course, this becomes more than slightly problematic at traffic lights where the right might be severed by a light changing to red. Critical mass therefore has a policy of ‘corking‘ roads. This basically means that if the light changes as the ride passes, some cyclists will block relevant traffic until the remainder of the ride has passed.

As far as I know, this is illegal. I must admit to feeling slightly uneasy at the prospect of corking roads – especially since the ride is supposed to simply by a collection of people cycling in the same direction with no particular agenda or affiliation. In any case, Critical Mass is certainly worthwhile, if only to promote cycling in cities.

Over the next month, a variety of different activities will take place as part of the I Bike MCR festival. Looking over the programme, I noticed that there is to be an Alleycat in Manchester. In fact this is not the first Alleycat to take place in Manchester, just the first of which I’ve been aware. Alleycats are bicycle messenger races. Various checkpoints are chosen through a city, the object being to be the first to arrive at the final checkpoint. There is no set route and so winning the race depends as much upon shortcuts as brute speed.

Alleycats are of course quite dangerous. In order to win, participants have little choice but to break traffic rules and ignore lights. As such, these races are not without their casualties. This is Lucas Brunelle’s video of a (ridiculously fast) London alleycat:

Maybe one day I’ll pluck up the courage to join these folks… In the mean time, here’s a video from the I Bike MCR website showing some of last year’s less crazy events:

Have a look at the I Bike MCR website to find out about the when and wheres of the events this year.

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