Protesting the nation’s dependency on oil, student bicyclists pedaled in solidarity against war in Iraq in a parade through downtown Ann Arbor Friday.
“I’m here especially because we’re riding against the war,” said Music freshman Sarah Herard, who participated in the Critical Mass bicycle parade. A monthly event, the Critical Mass bicycle parade had special meaning this month as a protest of the war on Iraq.
Riding their bikes in the streets rather than the sidewalks, cyclists participate in Critical Mass to encourage the public to adopt bicycling as a more efficient and cleaner form of transportation. But, due to the war, many bicyclists have also used the parade as a way to show their stance against America’s involvement in Iraq.
“I want to emphasize no war on oil, and our dependency on oil,” LSA junior Samara Davis said, “We want to support our troops by bringing them home.”
“Normally it’s next week, but we moved it ahead since a lot of what this war is about is car culture,” RC sophomore student Emily Kearns said. Many participants cited “car culture” – or the United States’ overreliance on oil – as reasons for U.S. intervention.
“America’s car culture is part of the cause since it forces the people to use car transportation,” Kearns said.
LSA sophomore Chris Janik held similar opinions.
“I am against petroleum use, and against the war,” Janik said. He added that he also opposes the war because President Bush and the U.S. government have refused to recognize that the public does not want to go to war.
As proof of America’s dependency on oil, Herard said, “We have already taken action in securing the oil fields,” in Iraq.
“Obviously a lot of people are dying in Iraq. I don’t feel our government has the right to colonize another country,” Herard said.
But Herard and other participants agreed that oil dependency is not the war’s only cause.
“I think it is connected with oil,” LSA senior Ryan Bodanyi said, “But I feel that primarily the war is extending American power and supremacy throughout the world,”
Bodanyi was also skeptical with how the war was being carried out. “Once this war is over, it will be interesting to see whether or not if weapons of mass destruction are found. If not, I think we should demand an explanation.”
Although the war was an issue on everyone’s mind, Critical Mass remained an effort by students to promote bicycle awareness. Rackham student Gary Brochard came to the event and said, “Bicycling is cheap and inexpensive, (it) doesn’t pollute and makes less noise than cars.”
Because most motorists are not accustomed to riding with bicyclists he said the event promotes cyclists’ rights.
It also shows that, “for city environments like Ann Arbor, it’s a great form of transportation,” Brochard said.
Rackham student Dan Shoup said, “I think bicyclists need to assert their rights,” referring to one of their slogans, “We are not blocking traffic – we are traffic.”