Thousands partake in mass cycling event

Take note – story published 5 years and 1 month ago

On May 1, a couple thousand cyclists partook in the annual Critical Mass event, which aims to attract attention to the perceived lack of cycling infrastructure in Rīga. Condemned by the authorities, the polarizing event saw motor transport blocked across Rīga; nevertheless, some officials, like the Transport Minister, participated as well.

The event attracted cycling enthusiasts, including many young people and families with children. They departed on a route from the Dailes Theater in central Rīga. 

"I commute from the Teika neighborhood to central Rīga. Using the bicycle trail is very nice, but if you want something more, like going to buy strawberries or meat for your dinner, there's nowhere to put your bicycle," Edīte, a participant, told Latvian Radio.

"Truth be told, I am attending because I'm having fun here. The idea is that while motorcyclists can be heard, we are silent and aren't as audible. That's why we show that we exist," said Jevgēnijs, a cyclist.

The organizer of the event said that the event also aims to popularize a green lifestyle, for example by inviting people not to use their cars in the summer season.

"It's the sixteenth year we're organizing the event. The results are rather weak. It's sad, of course, but we ride all the same," said organizer Māris Jonovs. 

The route took cyclists to the Sarkandaugava neighborhood, Mežaparks, through Purvciems to Torņakalns and back again. The streets of Rīga were overtaken by cyclists though motor traffic was notably light as it was the Labor Day holiday.

Pedestrians and people on public transport faced difficulties as well, as the former sometimes had to wait for several minutes to get across while the No. 12 trolley hardly moved for a time.

Some of the participants interviewed by Latvian Radio assumed a rather bellicose tone, admitting that they're here to provoke motorists.

But participating Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits told TV3 commercial television that, if the cyclists move as a united whole, this unofficial event doesn't cause any safety issues. 

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