Dead People on Bikes: Halloween Critical Mass

Harwood Halloween wasn’t the only festivity in which 5C students participated last weekend. Friday night, members of the Claremont Colleges Dope Bike Coalition (CCDBC), an unofficial group of bicyclists at the 5Cs, gathered outside the Outdoor Education Center (OEC) with helmets and radical costumes for “Dead People on Bikes,” otherwise known as Halloween Critical Mass.

On the last Friday of each month, the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition (LACBC)  sponsors a roughly 30-mile ride through Los Angeles known as Critical Mass. In October, cyclists of all skill and experience levels show up in in costume. 

“The 30-mile bike ride throughout downtown LA is very much about visibly promoting bicycle culture … sustainable transportation and bicycle safety,” said Gabi Guerra PO ’14, one of the leaders who helped plan the trip. “It’s just incredible to see hundreds of wheels that don’t belong to cars speeding up and down Alameda Street, and cool kids with weird hair in face paint and Halloween garb.” 

Though the majority of bikers did not dress up, the Halloween spirit was nonetheless rampant. An elderly man fully covered in Christmas lights blasted modern club music from the back of his bike, and an abundance of monster masks floated by on bicycles scattered among the crowd. 

“This makes me have faith in young people today,” Guerra said. “If we can make biking a cool, safe thing to do in the greater Los Angeles area, then maybe one day we’ll witness a huge shift of thought … in which greener, healthier transportation trumps sitting in hours of rush-hour traffic and smog-filled skylines … and bikes become the future for all.” 

Participant Rose Egelhoff PO ’14 said that she went because “a huge group bike ride sounded like fun, and I figured one night of Halloween parties was probably enough.” 

“I hadn’t been before but I know people who have gone a few times and like it,” Egelhoff said. “I’m sure biking 30 miles isn’t everyone’s first choice for what to do Friday night, so it was awesome to see how many people came out for it. I thought there would be anti-car sentiment but it was more of a celebration of biking rather than a self-righteous thing.”

Supportive pedestrians and drivers in nearby cars also added to the sense of community. Students who participated in the event enjoyed sharing their love for biking with hundreds of strangers on the roads of LA. 

Participant Naira de Gracia PO ‘14 said, “I think everyone who rides bikes should get out to Critical Mass at some point and know that despite the cars that surround us, we are not alone!” 

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