A new Critical Mass
Last Saturday was the second Kings Heath Critical Mass. Having missed the first one, I was keen to get to the second. Critical Mass is where a group of cyclists gather together and cycle in the same space to show their support for cycling. I’ve been to previous Critical Masses in Birmingham City Centre. The Kings Heath Critical Mass meets on the pedestrianised section of York Road. This is a perfect meeting place for the Critical Mass as York Road is a great place for people to gather. With cars being banned from the section of road it allows people to stand and enjoy the space. I cycled to Kings Heath via the Rea Valley Route rather than main roads, because it was a blisteringly hot day. The Rea Valley route is much longer than the main road route, but is much cooler and pleasant to ride as it goes through parks, and paths. The interaction with cars is minimised on the Rea Valley Route.
The Ride itself
When I arrived at York Road, cyclists were starting to gather. After a short wait approximately 40-50 people had arrived for the ride. As we waited we had a chat with each other, Mostly about how hot it was. People of all ages, including families were part of the ride, which was great to see. We were informally led by a couple of riders who directed us around the roads of Kings Heath. We cycled past the school I went to, towards the edge of Billesley and back to York Road. We had such a good time that we did a second shorter lap around Kings Heath. We cycled at a gentle pace and made sure that the group was within eye seeing distance of each other. As we cycled we chatted about cycling. A couple of people knew me from my blog, which is nice. People who like cycling are my core target demographic. It was great to see how different the people were. There were young children and older people. Some people wore helmets whilst others did not. Because of the excellent leading, I never felt in danger and from what I could gather most car drivers accepted our presence. I did not see any close passes or speeding drivers, though I could of course be wrong about that. Gentle cycling helps keep cooler in the heat.
Pedestrianised York Road: A space for people to enjoy
Most surprisingly for me was that we got cheered by a few people who were sat on York Road, enjoying a drink or two. It’s very rare to be cheered whilst cycling so I thought they may be ironic cheers, but no the people were genuinely happy for us to be there. The Pedestrianisation of part York Road means that the space can be used by people for a whole variety of reasons, including; to enjoy a group cycle or a drink. I thoroughly enjoyed the Critical Mass in Kings Heath. It was nice to have a positive ride with people who also enjoy cycling. Not everybody has to be a cycling campaigner like myself to enjoy cycling. Cycling is for everybody and measures like LTN’s make cycling accessible to more people. Because of the pandemic, all of my cycle campaigning has been done online, where people with polarising entrenched views, argue with each other. It was nice to be able to meet other cyclists in person and enjoy a gentle ride and discussion about cycling and life. I thoroughly enjoyed the Kings Heath Mass and look forward to future events.
Photos Courtesy of Steve Lawson and Better Streets for B14.(Twitter handle)