FIFTY ITHACANS ARE PEDALING TO THE U.S. SOCIAL FORUM IN DETROIT ON JUNE 12TH!
More than fifty Tompkins and Broome county residents are taking on the challenge of biking 500-miles from Ithaca to Detroit in time to attend the United States Social Forum (USSF). This group ride is being organized by BikeIt!, a project based in Ithaca but which is organizing at a national level. The destination, the USSF, is one of more than 30 forums happening this year around the world as part of the growing effort to connect the global with the local and to build a global social movement. The Fingerlakes ride is just one of many rides that will be embarking on a journey to the Social Forum by bicycle from all over the country. Rides are being organized by in Chicago, Madison, Washington, D.C., New York City, Albany, Rochester, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Ithaca. The bike caravans will all converge on the Motor City together, bringing an inspirational message about the future of sustainable transportation for the U.S. and the world, demonstrating how bikes can be an efficient, economic, autonomous and fun form of transportation for all.
”I’m riding because I’m excited about the opportunity to exercise my physical body as well as my social and environmental principles at the same time.” -Munna Rubaii, Human Services Training Specialist with the NY State Office of Children and Family Services, Ithaca.
“I believe that human power for short distances with public transport for long distance connections can render cars unnecessary. I’ve forever wanted to do a bike tour and BikeIt is the perfect opportunity.”- Ravishankar Sundararaman from Mumbai, India, Physics Grad Student at Cornell
The ride leaving from Ithaca on June 12th will be an 8-day, 500-mile journey with two rest days during which the group will do community service projects with food justice organizations in Rochester and Buffalo. The route will take the group up the west shore of Cayuga Lake and across the state on the Erie Canal Tow Path, and later across Ontario, Canada hugging the shore of Lake Erie for 300 miles on quiet rural roads until the arrival in Detroit, to be greeted by cyclists from all over the country. To return, there will be a bus available coming directly to Ithaca, or people can bike back. An all-U.S. route is being planned for those who prefer to not cross the border.
“I’m going to the U.S. Social Forum because I support its goal, that ‘Another world is possible’. I think the best part about choosing to bike there will be that we get to meet people along the way. It’s truly a unique way of spreading awareness of this event. People will see and ask ‘where are all these bikers going?’ People that may not have known about the forum will get to learn about it. We might even get to meet them again in Detroit!” - Sean Rillera, Ithacan
What will the ride look like?
A pod of fifty cyclists will travel together, with several support vehicles (most veggie-fuel or hybrids) and a cooking van. The group will work as a mobile village, with various working groups taking care of the necessities of the group such as mechanical support, cooking and medical attention, as well as entertainment. The group will have the luxury of having 3 vegetarian meals a day prepared for them by Ithaca’s own Mandibble Café. During the day, cyclists will follow Route Guides and pedal at their own pace, and at night, the community will come together to set up camp, and share a meal and stories together. In Rochester the group will be hosted by the Flying Squirrel Community Center, where they will participate in a Rochester Social Forum, and will spend a day doing service for Rochester Roots, a local youth organization focused on food justice. In Buffalo, the group will be housed by the Mass Ave Project, another urban agriculture organization, and will help them for a day in their gardens, as well as share in a forum with Green Options Buffalo, a local bicycle advocacy group. In Detroit, the group will stay in a Bicycle Tent City near the Hush House and the historical Solomon Church, with opportunities for mutual learning between cyclists from across the nation and the local Detroit Community.
Why are Ithacans doing this bike trip? Dozens of people are already signed up for the ride. The cyclists on BikeIt each bring their own story for why they want to bike to the U.S. Social Forum, but the common thread is that they love to bike, they want to promote the bicycle as an ecological form of transportation, and they believe in social and environmental justice. They are also excited about doing community service and getting to know communities along the way, as well as meeting and networking with cyclists from across the country in Detroit. Louis McDonald, Physical Education teacher at New Roots High School and an avid cyclist, says that,
“I plan on riding to Detroit along with my wife, six year old son, niece, and potentially a few of the New Roots Students to support the social movement that we need to be more environmentally friendly by riding more bikes. In addition, I believe it is going to be a lasting and life changing experience to see so many cyclists riding towards a common goal.”
Diane Collins, who’s currently a student at Binghamton University, is one of ten or so cyclists from the Binghamton area who will be joining the Fingerlakes Ride.
“As a student of Environmental Studies and Sciences,” says Diane,”My frame of mind coincides precisely with the essence of BikeIt: using human power to live a more sustainable lifestyle, independent of falsely cheap fossil fuels, while contributing to a movement of social change. I also want to challenge myself and push my physical limits in good company.”
Although most of the riders will be from Ithaca, the ride will have some participants from far away, including Kirsten Moller, Executive Director of Global Exchange, an international human rights organization based in San Francisco. Kirsten tells us that,
“I’m excited about riding from Ithaca to Detroit and meeting people along the way who are organizing in their own communities for justice, the environment and peace. I look forward to learning about a different part of the country, having fun and seeing grassroots organizing in action!”
Ithaca Youth will join BikeIt in Detroit!
BIkeIt is not the only Ithacan group headed to the US Social Forum. Approximately twenty folks from the GIAC family will be attending as well. The group composed of high school students, young adults, and staff will go by charter bus, and prior to that time they’ll attend meetings to learn about the Social Forum process and about potential projects to connect the forum to the Ithaca community. At the forum they will engage with thousands of other young people from the United States who are concerned about social and environmental justice issues. In addition, the Green Guerrillas Youth Media Tech Collective will be going to the USSF in their veggie-fuel van. All together, more than 100 people from Ithaca will be participating in the Social Forum—youth, elders, and those in between.
BikeIt is Gearing Up for the Spring Biking Season!
BikeIt invites the Ithaca Community to get involved! If you are interested in biking to Detroit, there is still space available in the bike caravan. Come learn more at BikeIt’s Potluck and Info. Session on April 6th at 6pm in the Worker’s Center, 115 The Commons. BikeIt’s first training ride of the season will start at 11am on Saturday April 3, meeting in DeWitt Park, corner of Buffalo and Cayuga Streets. If you cannot bike with them to the forum, considering donating a used-bike for them to bring to the Detroit community, or contribute to a scholarship fund to send low-income cyclists. There will be many training rides, skill workshops and potlucks leading up to the ride that the community is invited to participate in. For more information, event calendar and to register please visit www.bikeit.org and click on the Fingerlakes Ride.
The motto of the US Social Forum is “ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE”— and BikeIt invites you to PEDAL TO IT!