Pakistan, the bike movement Critical Mass, and the two-wheel invention are generally misunderstood, perhaps because all three have undergone drastic changes in short periods of time, matured without singular leadership, and been pigeon-holed into stereotypes that more easily explain them than digging through their many layers for fragments of truth.
Take Critical Mass rides. Some drivers and cyclists alike believe the Critical Mass movement an aggression toward the auto. Not true. Its original intent: to peacefully create awareness about San Francisco’s lack of bike infrastructure in the 90s. On occasion, as I’ve witnessed first-hand, the rides become self-fulfilling prophecies where fights erupt between bikers and drivers, each too territorial and proud to share the road. Misinformation and misunderstanding walk hand-in-hand; stereotypes will forever stick to minds like gum.
The Critical Mass movement has evolved differently in different parts of the world but never intently into a violent or aggressive agenda. Above ideology and behind all the many reasons to participate, it’s a celebration of life, an excuse to meet people, and see your neighborhood, city, country, planet, and your role in them from a perspective you may never have considered before taking to the streets.
The above video is an example of the bike’s great humanizing effect. It’s plain to see that Pakistanis are just like you and I. This two-minute panorama of a country I’ve never visited and know little about besides the war-torn CNN images I saw growing up reminded me how important it is to wake every day ready for understanding, not judgment.
I found this video in a Couchsurfing.org cyclist forum. Member Nabeel Khan wrote, “Thought I would share some interesting clips from cycling initiatives in a country called Pakistan which generally gets more bad press than it deserves…So here is the side of Pakistan that people did not know about.”
Nabeel, this good press is for you.