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Arts & Entertainment

Bipedal Power

Salt Lake City bicyclists create art and ride through downtown in a critical mass.

By Kristy Davis
Posted // June 11,2007 -

Here’s the spin: Bicycle enthusiasts citywide have come to a common conclusion. It’s time to take Mr. Bike to the gear shop for his annual tune-up in preparation for a glorious season of hopping curbs, dodging SUVs and splitting the skin off unsuspecting lizards. It’s a good goddamn thing that Salt Lake City has plenty of bike love to go around.


Three organizations—Critical Mass, Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective and the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee—are busy planning bike-related adventures for diehard bipedalers. The events will culminate in Salt Lake City’s Bike Week, which runs from May 10 to 17.


As a member of the Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective, Jason Bultman helps to refurbish donated bicycles for charity; provides community access to tools and shop space; offers bicycle repair classes and safety seminars; and helps plan cool events, like the Cycle Art 2003 exhibit and auction, which is sponsored by the mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee.


SLCBC is collecting art for the exhibit, which will be on display on Main Street through the end of Bike Week, May 17.


Dave Starks’ “Juggler,” a 15-foot-tall kinetic steel sculpture made of bicycle parts is part of the exhibit on Main Street. Starks also has a green, spindly, four-person bike titled “Praying Mantis” on display.


Starks works as a self-employed welder, who builds everything from steel gates to picturesque security bars for windows. In his spare time, he works with scrap steel and abandoned junk to build sculptures, windmills and designer furniture.


Andrew Smith’s “Long Road Ahead,” a life-size, kinetic bicyclist made of bike and washing machine parts as well as scrap steel, lights up the display window for the inside portion of the exhibit at 222 Main.


Perhaps the best known, and most controversial, event is Critical Mass, which takes place on the last Friday of each month.


Critical Mass participant Catherine Allred describes a typical ride: “We ride in one mass. We take up the whole entire street, and we go slow, in order to make our point a little bit stronger.” But they also have fun, Allred says. “Riding together creates an incredible sense of camaraderie. The point is to get as many people as possible together to ride through the streets of Salt Lake City in a “critical mass.” The bikes inevitably slow down traffic, annoying many drivers, but that’s part of the educational process as critical mass participants see it.


“The revolution will not be motorized,” said a member of Critical Mass as he passed out orange flyers on Main Street recently promoting the event.


“It’s organized chaos, if you will,” says Mass participant Jonathon Morrison. Critical Mass has no “technical organizers … that way no one can get in trouble,” he says. “We promote less use of oil, alternative transportation, clean air and bicyclists’ rights.”


According to Morrison, the organized bike rides known as Critical Mass started 10 years ago in San Francisco. Salt Lake City bicycle activists borrowed the idea and began their own ride two years ago in order to spread awareness about the rights of bicyclists.


Those rights include the notion that bicyclists, when riding on a street without a bike lane, are subject to the same rules as motorized vehicles. But motorized vehicles are prohibited from driving in a bicycle lane, except when turning into an intersection, driveway or other parking area. Bicyclists always have the right of way in a bicycle lane.


Also for Bike Week, Mayor Rocky Anderson is planning to share the love: Anderson will participate in Bike Week by riding his bike to work on Mayor’s Bike to Work Day on May 13, according to Lisa Romney of the mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee.


Listen up Rocky: Now, all we need is a Skip Work to Bike Day

 
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