Humpbacks of Notre Dame
A Climate Action

Juxtaposing catastrophe and play

"Humor and climate change is not something we often see together." - Dale Dougherty, MAKE Magazine

Humpbacks of Notre Dame combines a human powered vehicle with a catastrophic vision of the future creating both the carrot and the stick. This sculpture serves as an introduction and backdrop for advocating for improved bike infrastructure. Our enthusiastic, costumed entourage will encourage spectators to take action to support CalBike, a bicycle advocacy organization.

Our guerilla street theater performers are playing the role of “intern” for this climate action. They are tasked with gently connecting with a curious public, spectators who question what we are doing and why are there whales? Interns will use playful dialogue to help people understand the connection between mitigating climate change and bicycle infrastructure, funneling them towards becoming members of CalBike, building CalBike’s email distribution list.

CalBike advocates for equitable, inclusive, and prosperous communities where bicycling helps to enable all Californians to lead healthy and joyful lives. We think that’s an awesome set of goals and we’re happy to help them to reach more people. More about CalBike here.

Street Theater Performer

Interns will help curious onlookers answer the question, “What the heck is this thing? Why are you doing this?”


Once we’ve hooked a spectator’s attention with our theme and pun on “Humpback,” we have a deeper dive to help orient them on possible climate solutions, including more human-powered play.

Extending CalBike's Reach

CalBike is California’s statewide bicycle advocacy organization, connecting transportation justice and streets designed for everyone with healthy communities and a healthy climate.

The Story of Humpbacks (a Conceit)

In the year 2069, all the world’s ice has melted.

100 years ago in 1969, a visionary named Hobart Brown founded a human powered spectacle which grew to become the Kinetic Grand Championship. This race combined feats of athleticism with astounding engineering and playful art sculptures to test even the most skilled humans to their limits. Teams competed on land, sand and water for speed and glory.

Now in 2069, amphibious bikes are commonplace as people have adapted to a world with new coastlines and a ban on all burning of fossil fuels. The kinetic race is no more, the entire course submerged beneath the waves, including its epic “Deadman’s Drop” down a terrifyingly steep duneface. Now, all bicycle trips in urban centers are so-called “water crossings.”

Team Pineapple enters this world on a mission to celebrate nature’s adaptability. We’ve gone to Paris with our amphibious pedal car to explore the partially submerged ruins of Notre Dame Cathedral, where we discover Humpback whales breaching, feeding and singing where once a mighty organ played and the faithful worshipped.


Naming Sponsor


Special Thanks to

Humpbacks of Notre Dame
is an original work
commissioned for
SFMOMA's Soapbox Derby at McLaren Park 2022