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Lisa Jacobson/MEDILL News Service

Art and bikes--the perfect combination.

Chicago's Critical Mass bikes to greener pastures

by Lisa Jacobson
Feb 24, 2009

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Lisa Jacobson/MEDILL News Service

Flat Iron Arts Building, home of the Winter Bike Arts Show in Wicker Park. Events continue through Friday February 27.


Lisa Jacobson/MEDILL News Service

Bikes were the theme of the evening.

Lisa Jacobson/MEDILL News Service

Critical Mass host the 12th annual Winter Bike Arts show at the Flatiron Arts building in Wicker Park- with an open mic night filled with songs about the bicycle.

Chicago winters bring snow and cold winds. However, undaunted members of Critical Mass ride bicycles year-round to show their dedication to the environment.

"In the summer it's natural. In the winter the whole idea is can we make a whole extra lure," said Steven Lang, volunteer for Critical Mass, an organization that encourages bike riding. So an art show seemed like a great way to just pull people together and express why you're into this, he said.

The result, the 12th annual Bike Winter Art Show, encourages Chicagoans to bike year-round, protecting their environment and to come together to share common interests.

People were encouraged to express their love for their bicycle last week, with activities including a puppet show and an open mic night.

"I'm hoping tonight that people just share and express themselves creatively with the community," said David Marine, art show co-producer.

"It really is just about bonding and sharing tonight," Marine said.

And of course there's always the constant theme of independence from automobiles, green technologies, and promoting greater community awareness."

According to research from the Chicago Climate Action Plan, cars and alternate public transportation account for 21 percent of all fuel emission in the city.

Energy independence and individual self-sufficiency are something Lang says cannot be ignored. With the "war for oil and global warming, these issues - they don't take a season off - so why should you?"

Lang believes that these issues are present all year long. "It does your body good, it does the world good to just keep going all year long," Lang added.

"Public transportation is an essential part of any metropolitan city," said Marine, "and I think part of that should be bicycles."

"I think consciously aware people ride bicycles in the city," Marine said.

Marine thinks the solution to much of Chicago's pollution and traffic congestion problems is government supported transportation. "Better bike paths, better laws, more places to put bikes, greater facilities for people who choose to ride bicycles."

While methods may very, the message of most environmentally conscious groups like Critical Mass are all the same: beware the ground that you tread your carbon footprint upon.