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2/11/2007: Chicago Tribune: Pedaling protest takes on car show
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Pedaling protest takes on car show
Bicyclists use satire to drive home point

By Lolly Bowean
Tribune staff reporter
Published February 11, 2007

Dressed as polar bears and Santa Claus and towing signs that read "True Patriots Don't Burn Oil" and "Be a Hero: Drive Less," a group of bicyclists gathered Saturday in front of McCormick Place to protest the Chicago Auto Show.

"We feel there are enough cars in Chicago," said Dan Korn, a lead organizer. "You can't get away from the sights, smells and sounds. And here comes the auto show glorifying it."

For 99 years, automakers have brought hundreds of their most modern cars, trucks, SUVs and other vehicles to the city for the show.

And for the last eight years, Critical Mass, a group of bicycling activists, has protested, saying there are too many autos on the streets already, Korn said. They dress in wacky costumes and point out how autos are costly and pollute the environment.

They say the streets are congested with cars, and the show just encourages people to become more reliant on them.

This year, the costumes of the nearly two dozen protesters highlighted the melting of polar ice caps. The riders gathered at the Daley Center and pedaled to McCormick Place, where they played music, chanted and marched around with their signs.

Kevin Monaghan, 29, said he sold his car three years ago and now relies on his bicycle. But even before then, he believed that vehicles cost too much and that a bicycle was more environmentally friendly. He joined the protest to teach others the benefits of bicycling and public transportation, he said.

"We're here to show that there is another option out there," Monaghan said. "This is about two forces that are defining what's going on. We've got people selling material goods and we're saying there's a problem with that."

Though it was cold and a little windy, Caitlin Casey, 18, said the protest was worth it. She drove from Elgin to participate.

"I've always been an environmentalist and wanted to take care of the Earth," she said. "They are inside showing off cars and convincing people to buy them. I'm here to show I care about something else--our environment."

The protesters chanted `No thank you' about the products being marketed inside.

"We already have an auto show every day," Korn said. "Everywhere we go there is an auto show."


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