Bicycling Is Not A Crime
Cam Novak and Roadsworth Paint Montreal Bike Culture
As Urban Cycling Week comes to an end, Montrealers can still catch a glimpse of the consciousness-raising project in the form of a mural on St. Marc St. and Ste. Catherine St. W.
A Mural for Montreal Cyclists uses art to stir up an awareness of the politics behind transportation.
“Bikes don’t really have a place in the visual dialogue,” street artist Cam Novak said of the lack of bike culture in media.
Novak is partnering up with another artist, Roadsworth, to complete the mural.
Both Novak and Roadsworth are avid street artists and bike advocates.
“You look around and you see car advertisements and SUVS,” said Novak. “I mean you look everywhere and there are cars parked on every street—it’s the most visible thing you see.
“So why not give cyclists a space, in the public eye?”
The project is meant to confront the city’s lack of bike ads, and remind cyclists that they do have a place on city streets.
Roadsworth described it as a “glorification or beautification of bike culture,” without actually trying to sell you a pedal-powered machine.
The mural itself depicts a cyclist in motion, symbolized with a bird above the cyclist, also in motion, and leaving behind Novak’s brightly coloured and floral spray-painted arrangement.
“It’s as though you’re leaving a trail of crazy beautiful energy behind you,” Novak said of the mural.
“It’s fun but it’s also playing a role so that people feel welcome when they’re on their bike.”
Even with the introduction of Bixi, bikes and cyclists are a part of a city transportation taboo, and are at the receiving end of a lot of animosity, according to Novak.
“[Cyclists] are allowed [in the city],” Novak said. “But I don’t think it’s as encouraged as people think it is.”
Before getting more involved in his art, Novak founded Cycle-Bird a bicycle-powered courier company, which closed its doors last year.
Roadsworth a.k.a. Peter Gibson is infamous for his unsigned street art, having painted the streets and sidewalks of Montreal with counter-car-culture “illegally” a decade ago.
His street art and the arrest that followed led to a whirlwind of publicity, including the 2008 documentary Roadsworth: Crossing the Line, which was co-produced by the National Film Board.
Organized by the Montreal Bike Coalition, the Urban Cycling Week saw bike tours and conferences, including a Tour du Silence in memory of cyclists who have died on the road, all leading up to the Urban Bike Summit on Saturday.