Impressions from the North: Bikesummer '99 by Emily Bulmer

About 50 bicyclists smelled the effect of pollution (largely caused by car culture run amok) at this Bikesummer event, the Toxics Tour. Photo by Vince Vitale
I was reading Adbusters as a study diversion one rainy Prince George day, when I came across a short article on something called Bikesummer. As an Environmental Planning student at the University of Northern British Columbia and a cycle commuter, I thought what a great thing to be able to participate in, without really thinking that I would actually be a part of it myself. However, within the next few weeks, I found myself emailing Bikesummer organizers and preparing to ride my bike to San Francisco.

As I peddled my way down the coast, I was enchanted by the scenery, impressed with the hospitality of the people, and amazed when I met other people riding down to participate in Bikesummer. When I arrived in San Francisco, I was extremely thankful to those people who kindly shared their homes with me. After couch surfing for a month, I felt a real attachment to the people, as well as the city itself.

My first Bikesummer event was the July Critical Mass. I can safely say that I had never seen so many bikes in one place in my entire life. I was impressed by the welcoming spirit of San Francisco cyclists, as well as their determination to fill the streets with laughter and make the ride positive and fun.

Over the course of my month-long visit and over 40 Bikesummer events attended, I found myself getting more and more excited over the power of the bicycle. From everything from stopping urban sprawl, to women's liberation, the lectures and workshops opened my eyes to the possibilities of the bicycle. By the time this newsletter is distributed, I will be back in the land of the North, educating, inspiring, and generally infecting people with the same enthusiasm that I have experienced in San Francisco. Thank you for such an uplifting summer, and safe riding to all.