Home > Musings, Toronto > Cycling and social movements in Toronto – A monologue that wants to be a discourse…

Cycling and social movements in Toronto – A monologue that wants to be a discourse…

**Author: Terry–Originally posted on Mourningbell.com*


As a avid cyclist in Toronto, and someone who has done his fair share of reading of social movement theory etc. I’m wrestling with something. Why am I so not interested in the types of advocacy/rides that are being held in our city? Is it that they’re being framed incorrectly? Is it that they’re coming on the heels of more heated public road blockades? I just feel so very disconnected. Maybe its because I don’t have my beard anymore or because I don’t live downtown and ride a fixie, or maybe its because I am young enough and confident enough to ride where I want (always have) unhindered by the spatial confines of our car based infrastructure; or maybe its just the feelings of futility that come with working within a political system run on short term 4 year plan…

If anyone has a hypothesis I’d welcome some input. I just feel that our movements aren’t hitting the mark (FOR ME). Why should I want to participate in Critical Mass, the World Naked Bike Ride (despite my affinity for not wearing a shirt), or Cruiser Rides and Island picnics?

I know the importance of solidarity and galvanizing the cyclists, I know the potential for change that can come through living it…the old Ghandian maxim of “be the change you want.” I’m starting to think that either a) My sense of individualism engendered by our society has effected the way I bike or b) that while groups claim to be pluralistic they are perhaps not as inclusive as they may think.

My theory right now, is that I’ve sublimated all of the wonderful governmentalities our society has foisted upon us yet, I love riding my bike. The two seemingly disconnected trajectories have come together to make unlikely bedfellows. A cyclist who loves the power, speed, freedom, and yes carbon fiber (a representation of post Enlightnment’s progress of course) and even care for the environment. Yet at the same time I remain lacerated from my fellow humans/cyclists (Think Aloysha in the Brothers Karamazov).

Or is this an inevitable result of a machine that has gotten too strong? Movements failed in Mexico City and Abbie Hoffman offed himself…Or am I just too yellow? Afraid of new things? Suburban?

Not to mention of course the potential to meet a great girl at those events yet I’m terribly disinterested in being part of “that” group.

Again, help me with my dilemma.  Vive le discourse!

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Categories: Musings, Toronto
  1. June 2, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    It is a shame that you feel so lacerated from your fellow cyclists. Despite the huge spectrum of bikes, speeds, and abilities with which we traverse the city, we are all in the same creature. Two-wheeled and vulnerable.

    I had a spill at Queen and Spadina a couple years ago. Finding myself sprawled across Queen on a Saturday afternoon, it was a fellow cyclist who came to my aid (and a pedestrian). His words reverberate still….’we have to look out for each other, cause the cars sure aren’t going to’. It was a testament to the fact that despite our differences, all riders share a sense of comradery. Perhaps because we are not shielded behind tinted glass and tons of sheet metal, but instead look each other in the eyes at a stop light and often share a comment or two.

  2. Theo
    June 2, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    A rapidly waining sense of camaraderie if you ask me, however that might just be my outward projection because I dislike hipsters.

  3. Morty
    June 3, 2009 at 9:59 am

    You never know…a hipster could save your life one day.

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