Cyclists ride to Auto Salon to denounce “Mythical Mass” of car advertising
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    Cyclists ride to Auto Salon to denounce “Mythical Mass” of car advertising

    Protesting cyclists at Trone prepare to demonstrate at the Auto Salon © Belga

    A group of around 100 cyclists gathered at Trone metro this morning to travel together to the Heysel where this year’s Auto Salon is currently taking place.

    The group, representing cycling groups, called their action Mythical Mass, in a criticism of the current tendency of the car industry to push advertising of sports utility vehicles (SUVs), which the cyclists blame for exacerbating the problems for the environment caused by cars in general.

    The idea is to demand that politicians regulate car advertising, or indeed ban it, because there is an enormous amount of promotion for the car, while we’re searching for solutions to the problems of mobility and public health we’re experiencing these days,” commented Aurélie Willems, secretary-general of the cyclists’ pressure group Gracq.”We want to promote alternatives, but at the same time millions of euros are being spent on the promotion of cars.”

    The cyclists’ protest is backed by groups such as Inter-Environnement Wallonie, Bruxsel’Air, BRAL – which works to create a sustainable Brussels – and Extinction Rebellion Bruxelles.

    As well as the physical protest at Heysel, a petition has also been launched on Change.org, signed by 166 people at the time of going to press, calling for a rapid end to car advertising. “The automotive industry in Belgium spends €300 million a year to promote the purchase of new vehicles,” the petition reads. “For several years, their ads concentrate largely on SUVs, which are larger, heavier and more powerful. These vehicles make the problem worse rather than better. But these are the vehicles that bring the most profit to manufacturers. Their advertising assault is working: from a market share of less than 10% in 2009, SUVs occupied a share of nearly 40% in 2019. At the same time, CO2 emissions from traffic have been increasing for two years, and the number of people killed on the roads is also growing.”

    The protests will continue next Saturday, announced Extinction Rebellion, with autonomous groups organising “a multitude of non-violent disruptive acts both inside and outside of the fair”.

    [The] Salon of Lies will end with a final collective action that will be announced on the day itself,” the group writes on its website. “Participants are aware of the legal consequences of their actions and are ready to risk arrest.”

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times