Strange CM Province Rag
In general I think the rides typically work well, unlike the bridge closure issue the police were involved with on 2nd Narrows bridge. Funny how you use an example of police making a mess of traffic (apparently the police never bothered to let motorists know what was happening for 4 hours) and then use this example to justify more police intervention, the logic is comical if it was not for the the animosity you are stirring up between cyclists and drivers.
Mark, I know in my conversations with many police (spent 2 days with the bike patrol a number of years back) that many don't share your views. What bothered me so much about the article is that your comments/attitude is the problem and only further endangers the lives of cyclists. In my own experience cycling in Vancouver, I have had a beer bottle thrown at me, three drunks pull up next to me while I was cycling and attempt to pull me down by tugging on my jacket, a drunk driver with no licence hit me, a driver take a run at me with my child in tow all the time swearing f#@K cyclists get off the road and countless drivers buzzing by me at high speeds leaving absolutely no room. They all had one thing in common and that is an overall disrespect for me and my family because we were on a bike. Your article condones this attitude and I don't appreciate the consequences that it places on my family, especially be a paid city staff entrusted to protect my rights.
How will your article help improve our safety? Seems like you could care less about my families safety and as a tax payer and citizen that is unacceptable.
Celebrate Critical Mass or crack down?
Some participants mean well, but many want to wage war with drivers
By the time you read this, Vancouver will have experienced another Critical Mass bicycle rally.
How many of you will have been in dustups with these characters is hard to say. Most of the cyclists showing up for Critical Mass rides are legitimate enthusiasts -- two-wheeled, earth-loving anti-carbonaros. They hit the streets on the last Friday of each month, ostensibly to promote biking as a realistic form of transport. Cycling crowds as large as 3,000 gather at the downtown art gallery, then roll through downtown traffic en masse.
Intersections are blocked illegally, as a mile-long pack traverses city centre at peak inopportune moments. Typically, their leaders stop to ponder the meaning of it all atop the Lions Gate Bridge, holding riders still all the way back to the Park Drive overpass, while cars are made to idle in place behind.
That said, the group has no formal leadership, or none they'll admit to. No one to hold accountable for lack of permits or willful obstruction of traffic. No one to discuss the bizarre and confrontational behaviour seen on Critical Mass fringes.
Any number of these people drink or smoke dope as they roll along. Some ride naked. Others taunt frustrated motorists, swarming drivers stuck at crossings.
There are fistfights. Cars are damaged as bicycles scrape by on purpose, teaching "lessons" to those who dare voice an opinion about being forced to a stop.
Police escorts for such a debacle are seen by some as a bad idea. Lending legitimacy to confrontational groups is inadvisable, and assisting people in blocking bridge traffic is difficult to justify these days. Think back to the recent freezing of the Ironworkers Memorial bridge, and how poorly that was received. How calmly would commuters accept another shut-down bridge, with no lives in danger -- just a crowd of cyclists with
Other options are just as vexing. Moving in for enforcement could cause a major stir. Some readers would applaud police action; others would curse us for failure to support the greening of the West Coast. A general summer bicycle campaign is being considered, to deal with an epidemic reluctance to wear helmets. Bicyclists almost never stop for stop signs, and they blow downtown traffic lights as often as not.
I'll assume they know they're accountable to traffic law. Many don't have driver's licences, and perceive themselves to be immune to traffic fines, though the feeling is false. Unpaid fines are kept on record, to be discussed whenever a DL is applied for.
I don't want to be preachy.[ed: sure?] Even if I did, I'd admit to a certain flexibility when it comes to bicycles on the road. Nevertheless, having two wheelers turn on motorists sweeps notions of leniency off the table. I'm in search of readership thought. Should these people be subjected to an intense enforcement campaign, with special attention to the violent fringe? Should they be pampered with a full motorcade escort?
It's not my decision to make, which may be a blessing. Drop me a line at the address below.
Sgt. Mark Tonner is a Vancouver police officer, whose column appears biweekly in Unwind. His opinions aren't necessarily those of the city's police department or board.
Mark may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.