It's an exhibition of film, photography and sculpture to celebrate the
bicycle over car culture. The bicycle exhibition opens at Manchester’s
alternative social centre The Basement at 24 Lever Street, M1 on Friday
30th March at 8pm.
The exhibition will be host to local bicycle loving artists including Nes
Brierley with sculpture and photography showing “A Portrait of
Manchester’s Cyclists”, Muhammad Murphy’s bicycle wheel sculptures and
Natalie Kay’s bicycle pictures. Also Carolyn Ryves will be travelling up
to Manchester for the exhibition from Cardiff with her full size
inflatable urban 4x4 that her bike inflates when she pedals.
The exhibition will also host the first screening of a film about cycling
in Manchester, which is still currently in the making, called “I Bike
MCR”. The film shows cyclists and cycle facilities and services and
bicycle culture in Manchester. The makers of the film are bicycle riders
and hope that the film will encourage more cycling and awareness of
cycling in Manchester.
The purpose of the show is to celebrate the bicycle over car culture, as
the exhibition’s curator Nes Brierley explains, the bicycle “is a
healthier, greener, safer, less aggressive, more sociable and more fun way
Before the exhibition opens many cyclists will take to our city’s roads on
the monthly critical mass bicycle ride. In addition to the other benefits
of bicycling over car driving, bicyclist Anna Sawyer on February’s
critical mass suggested: “Social isolation can come from encasing oneself
in a steel shell and moving through an environment without regard to the
full panoply of its sights, sounds, smells and, among other thrills, the
joy of fresh wind blowing in one's face”. They hope to encourage more
drivers to ride bikes and enjoy what Anna describes as the “freedom of
"We are not anti-car drivers," noted another critical mass rider, "We just
want to celebrate the joy of biking and to share that feeling with others
and encourage others to ride instead of drive."
What Critical Mass would like to see, she added, is a policy of
"appropriate use" for cars. That means "when no other means of
transportation is practical," though, as one cyclist noted, "any place on
Earth is within biking range, if you have the time."
Cycling as opposed to driving is becoming a more and more attractive way
to travel with 20% of Britains being obese, cycling will help to get us
healthier. And the proposed congestion charge in Manchester may also mean
that people taking the bicycle to work instead of the car will become more
The idea of critical mass grew out of an observation by urbanologist Ted
White studying traffic patterns in cities in China. With no signals to
halt cars, bicyclists at crosswalks, they noted, would clump together into
a human shield. When the shield grew large enough, a point described as
"critical mass," it would move into a street, stopping cars so riders
could cross. The film, Return Of the Scorcher, in which this phenomenon
was identified will be showed at the exhibition.
Similarly, in San Francisco, in August 1992, a loose gathering of bicycle
commuters began taking to the streets on a regular basis to ride home
together. The idea, which now has taken hold in 150 cities around the
world, spread to Manchester in March 1996, meaning that this exhibition
also marks Manchester’s 11th year of this bicycle ride.
Now, riders gather at 6pm on the last Friday of each month at Central
Library. They decide on a route. Then they ride together through sunshine,
snow, rain, cold, gloom of night, or rush-hour traffic.
"I love critical mass because I get to meet other cyclists and chat as I
ride ” says Ben a critical mass attendee “for a couple of hours a month
drivers have to pay attention to us. Because there are so many of us they
have to give us the respect on the road we deserve and for once we are
seen as traffic.”
The art show, which runs from March 30th to April 20th, is not just about
the art. Nes hopes that the exhibition will enable people to see what a
beautiful machine the bicycle is. Yet she also hopes the exhibition will
be a hub for cyclists to meet each other and to be a chance to exchange
tips toward creating a community with cleaner air, quieter streets and a
supportive and supported bicycle community in Manchester.
In addition to the art show there are a number of bicycling events planned
for the month including bicycle treasure hunts, races, social rides and
Oxford Bicycle Polo team are even coming to Manchester specially to teach
“In U.S cities like Portland, San Francisco and New York there is a
bicycle culture and cyclists meet regularly to ride socially together, to
commute together and to socialise together.” Nes comments, “I hope that
this exhibition with all its activities will help us to start to create a similar
bicycle community here in Manchester.”
The exhibition is at The Basement, 24 Lever St, Manchester M2
(01612371832) Open Tues- Sat 12-6pm, March 30th-April 20th, Free Entry.
Information about the exhibition and the other events is available on
their website http://www.ibikemcr.org.uk or email email@example.com