For everyone who participated in the anti-war strike a couple weeks ago and those who wish they had, I think it’s important for us to remember that it was not just a day to skip class, make catchy posters and wear flowers in our hair, but the start of a legitimate student movement with strong leaders and supporters who really want to see a change. The momentum that was created during our protest was incredible, but we have to continue to make our voices heard and demands felt in order to have a real impact. Our large numbers and enthusiasm from those who participated is what made the strike on Feb. 15 so strong and effective in starting a new student movement. I want to keep this student energy alive and what better way to carry on UCSB student momentum than a Critical Mass bike ride.

On Saturday, March 17, anti-war protesters of all ages will be marching downtown to protest the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq, ending with a rally with several speakers and workshops. We want to join this protest by riding our bikes in a huge group from Isla Vista to downtown, demonstrating the use of alternative transportation, and making our involvement in the protest as sustainable as possible. Critical Mass events happen all over the world to show that bicycles are a form of traffic and are an integral part of the transportation system. Instead of building new highways and going ever farther in the pursuit of oil, money should be going to a rethinking of our cities to be more compatible with bike riders and other alternative transportations. I am tired of living in a country where political policies are dominated by the acquisition of oil, a nonrenewable resource that is causing unprecedented harm to the global environment.

We have the technology for cleaner energy sources, yet the money needed to finance further expansion and development of these sources is going toward an absurdly expensive war centered on arrogant foreign policy to control the flow of oil. Riding in a critical mass demonstrates that not only do we not agree with the current war, but that we are tired of our dependence on oil and willing to change our personal behaviors in order to make that happen. Environmental issues are closely intertwined with political decisions. By changing our everyday behavior to be more sustainable, our government will have less reason to take the resources of other countries and engage itself in wars that the majority does not support.

In order to make a loud and clear statement, we need as many people as we can to ride with us. We will be riding in a group of all ages and abilities and no one gets left behind! There will be people on hand to fix flat tires, provide water and assist in any way possible to keep the group as a solid block. We will be meeting at 9 9 a.m. at the Pardall Tunnel, with a free coffee and light breakfast provided to sustain us for the ride. It may seem early for a Saturday morning, but a beautiful bike ride along the Santa Barbara coast may just be the cure to any hangover from the night before. If you’re unable to make the bike ride, we still need lots of students downtown for the protest and we are encouraging students to use the bus system instead of driving individual cars.

One of the best things that came out of the strike is more debate on campus, whether for or against the war. Students are becoming more informed and voicing their opinions and any valid opinion is valuable to provoke new ideas and initiate change. If you disagree with the tactics of the UCSB anti-war movement and want to make suggestions, the organizers are accessible to hear new voices and thoughts. Any debate around the war is a welcome change from the trend of apathy formerly gripping our student body. Visit the website or find the March 17th Critical Mass group on Facebook for upcoming meetings and events.