Critical Mass riders bike past U.N. to support Greta Thunberg

BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | In honor of Greta Thunberg’s visit to the United Nations on Fri., Aug. 30, more than 100 bicyclists passed U.N. Headquarters during last Friday’s critical mass ride.

“We wanted to show what real climate change solutions look like,” said Bill de Paola, director Time’s Up, an environmental organization that organizes the Critical Mass rides.

Critical Mass riders passing through Times Square on Aug. 30. More than 100  cyclists traveled from Union Square to Washington Square Park, passing by U.N. Headquarters and through Times Square along the way. (Photo by Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech).

The 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist had arrived in New York City by solar-powered boat two days earlier. The teen embarked from the United Kingdom and spent two weeks sailing across the Atlantic Ocean to speak at the U.N. Climate Action Summit scheduled for later this month. She pointedly did not fly here by jet plane, due to

On Friday, Thunberg was joined by hundreds of children and teens outside of the U.N. in calling on politicians and older generations to take immediate and comprehensive action to reverse climate change.

Fellow young New York City climate change activists Alexandria Villaseñor, 14, and Xiye Bastida Patrick, 17, also took part in the protest.

During the protest, the trio were given an impromptu tour of the U.N. and had a meeting with Maria Fernanda Espinosa, the U.N. General Assembly president.

Hours later, the activist cyclists gathered as usual at Union Square Park and headed north. Critical Mass rides occur in New York, and in more than 200 cities around the world, every last Friday of the month, to call for safer streets and better bicycling infrastructure and to help newer bicyclists feel more comfortable riding in traffic.

“When you ride together in a group, you feel more confident and that helps create more riders,” de Paola said.

And for Time’s Up, more riders mean a greener city and greener world.

According to the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 29 percent of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. More specifically, they come from the burning of petroleum-based fuels to power trucks, cars, ships and planes.

The 2019 Climate Action Summit is scheduled to begin on Sept. 23.