Vancouver Critical Mass

Mostly event announcements, news, and bicycle related activist opinions...
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Yes, we ride the last Friday of every month!


Free Bike Valet at Fireworks

BEST and the City of Vancouver have teamed up this year to offer free and secure Bike Valet services at the Cigarette Banking Fireworks (the HSBC Celebration of Light). It's a convenient and safe way for cyclists to enjoy the fireworks without risking bike theft or having to fight with the crowds for space for bikes and gear.

This year's fireworks are also a trial for whether the City will continue to support Bike Valet parking at other large events, including the 2010 Olympics. If you are planning on heading down to English Bay or Kitsilano to watch the fireworks on July 26, 30, or August 2nd, please consider using the Bike Valet service. We'd love nothing more than for the tennis courts at Kits Beach and Lost Lagoon to be filled with rows of parked bikes, proving that Bike Valet is more than just a great concept, but also an essential service that will get people out of their cars and riding to events instead.


Kitsilano Beach Tennis Courts-Arbutus and Cornwall. 5-11 pm Stanley Park Lagoon Tennis Courts-Robson and South Lagoon: 5-11 pm

Please visit and for more information on Bike Valet and location maps for the HSBC Celebration of Light.


Strange CM Province Rag

Mark, just read your article on Critical Mass, sure sounds like you have a big hate on for cyclists, or just the drug using, violent fringe, lunatics, you spoke of. I have been going to critical mass rides for 15 years and your observations are bs. Fist fights? Deliberate scratching of cars? Drug use? Riding naked? Give me a break, if these are your insightful views maybe you should pop on a bike one day and join the ride. Pretty low blow to cyclist. Back in 1996 I had a meeting with Peter Rothberg in response to a number of police issues arising when the police showed up at critical mass rides and as you put it "pampered cyclists with a full motorcade escort", the police were creating a whole load of problems, that is why you and your attitude are no longer sent out to these rides.

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.
~Rob Wynen

Celebrate Critical Mass or crack down?

Some participants mean well, but many want to wage war with drivers

The Province Published: Sunday, July 27, 2008

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
strong feelings?

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

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NY Rookie cop in hot water after video shows him slamming biker

A rookie NYPD cop was stripped of his badge and gun Monday after a stunning video caught him slamming a bicyclist to the ground in an apparent unprovoked attack.

Officer Patrick Pogan, 22, of the Midtown South Precinct, was bounced to desk duty soon after the video of Friday's incident in Times Square appeared on YouTube.

"The video is bad - what can you say?" a police source said. The damning video not only revealed an out-of-the-blue attack but also seems to show Pogan lied about the incident in court papers.

full article...

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Important - Please vote for UBC Farm! Deadline Today!

Hey friends, sorry to spam you with this, but I wanted to send this announcement out far and wide - please please please click on the link below and vote for the UBC Farm! It will only take you a few seconds. We are at 927 votes and are hoping to reach 1000 by the deadline tomorrow. Some of you may know that the future of the farm is in serious danger, and we hope that by getting 1000 votes in this contest we can show UBC how important the farm is to the community. So please give us 5 stars, and please pass this on to any friends/mailing lists. Friday is the last day to vote, so click the link now! Thanks for your help :) Jen

LAST CHANCE: Green Your Campbell Cash & Vote for the UBC Farm!

If you haven't had the chance to vote for the farm in the Tyee's Green your Campbell Cash competition, now is the time! Tomorrow is the last day to vote! Especially with the tone of the op-ed piece that UBC published in the Vancouver Sun this Tuesday, it is absolutely vital that we send them a clear signal that this place really matters to people. Please click on the link below to give the farm your five stars! Thank you!



big gay bike ride!

It's July again. The lazy days of summer and great weather!

That means, as per tradition, the Pride ride for everyone! Because biking makes you gay! (joyous) And Critical Mass is about embracing and protecting diversity (that is why we cork the cars - making it safe for the wild pedestrian use of the street). One out of the 12 monthly rides being dedicated to celebrating different sexualities is of course a slight bit under the 10% quota ;-) But, us queers-with-gears are always bent on having a good time. I think the costume theme is pretty wide open but with lots of rainbows and emphasis on summer fun.

All kinds of families and friends let's
roll Friday July 25th, last Friday in July
5:30pm at the Vancouver Art Gallery fountain.
All are invited to enjoy the safety and comfort we create by simply riding together

Critical Mass has become a very big event in the past few years. Especially in the summer months we may get as much as a thousand cyclists, walkers, skaters... or maybe even more than that! When it becomes such a very big event it is even more important that as a group we stick together! (Or if some prefer to split off into several groups that stick together individually) Critical Mass is run by it's participants so it is up to us all to do the corking and otherwise watching out for each other to keep all of us safe. One important factor in a successful ride that we should remember is to stick to the wider streets! With 1000 or more people a single lane road is just too narrow. The ride gets spread very thin when it takes these narrow roads and a thin mass becomes less of a mass and invites more conflict with motorists than otherwise. (Asking someone to wait out a green light to let a thick group of bikers past is a lot more reasonable than asking them to wait for a long drawn out process with one or two bikes every now and then - almost as bad as forcing people to wait because a road is blocked by cars: all the space taken up for not many people)

That means that those who choose to ride at the front and choose to lead the route (anyone who wants to go up there) should try and be conscious to take the mass only on nice wide streets with 2 or -even better- 3 lanes in our direction. Or failing that (sometimes for a good reason like there is only a one lane road to the beach) to be very aware of how the rest of the mass gets spread out on narrow roads and going extra slow/stopping to bulk up the mass rather than letting it get drawn thin. So, lets stay dense on this ride, it's better for the conversations also. A community supporting each other is a big part of what this ride is about. All it takes is a little forethought to increase the fun.

After the ride there will surely be get-togethers at the beach and also a velofusion dance party at the ANZA.

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sit or sleep in road or sidewalk


hip bike hop

'cept for the motorbikes at the very end I like it.

Pedal down the foot hills
Wheelies on the front
P-p-pedal down the foot hills
Wheelies on the front



Critical Mass, CKNW, guilty! Guilty!

By Kevin Potvin

When cars are involved, the arguments take on other-worldly tones.

The three biggest, most profound issues of our time, climate change, oil prices, and resource wars, strangely all involve in intimate ways the private car. And so it is that that relatively unassuming and hitherto background prop, the car, has emerged as the one object that lies at the very fulcrum of vast, historically transformative events that are in this period remaking the world completely.

While scientists, environmentalists and policy formulators in both business and government are well-versed in all the data about cars—their proliferation, their efficiency, their technology, and so on—cars are ultimately related to the three big issues not through what they are in and of themselves, but rather through social attitudes towards them.

Change both of the kind being forced by circumstances arising around the three big issues and of the kind arising from pressures within populations and economies related to them, will not find manifestation or expression within data about cars. It will instead drive and be driven by the more fluid, indeterminate and loosely-geared world of social attitudes toward cars as detected in everyday life and small-talk banter taking place amongst casual communities bobbing throughout cities big and small around the world. How apparently petty social attitudes shift regarding cars will be the single most important determining factor in how the world is fated to be transformed by, and itself transform, the three big global issues of our era.

Cars and social attitudes toward them in one guise or another form the subject of casual and petty everyday discussions in Vancouver virtually constantly now, particularly among activist groups and talk radio. In these discussions, we can detect where the tectonic plates meet and where the pressure points are that will produce the epicenters of sudden change when that pressure is triggered to release. A look at the style and content of discussions in Vancouver arising around cars should provide clues about where to watch most closely. It isn’t the obvious places. Social attitudes about anything are pressed and folded in sometimes far away seemingly unrelated regions.

The current state of discussions in which cars figure prominently is chiefly characterized today by sides being clearly staked and jealously guarded, and opposition to sides portrayed in their most extreme and reductionist forms.

John McComb, Charles Adler, Bill Good, Christy Clark, and sometime fill-in Michael Smyth, form the vanguard of show hosts at leading talk radio station in Vancouver, CKNW. They have each on several occasions characterized arguments against provincial government plans to vastly expand the capacity of Highway One, the main east-west thoroughfare between Vancouver and its suburbs (which out-populate it four-to-one), as the complete denial of the personal car. They each have presented the issue as though the range of public policy choices is restricted to two extremes: allow cars to whatever degree the unfettered market determines with no state intervention beyond providing ever expanding blacktop, or disallow all cars all the time and everywhere. “What do they expect us to do?!” goes the oft-repeated refrain, “Carry grandma on the back of a bicycle to Langley?”

Predictably, alarmed listeners pick up on the theme, phone in to these shows, and parrot the hosts, characterizing all suggestions for more public transit and bicycle lanes as policies that would force them and their families of six out of their minivans and away from their hockey practices. “My mother,” McComb recently exclaimed hysterically during his afternoon show, which plays to drivers driving home from work, “can’t be expected to carry her groceries home up the steep blocks in North Van, for crying out loud,” as though that’s what the construction of bicycle lanes promises.

Adler routinely smears public transit as wholly unacceptable to him on a personal level, as though increased public expenditure on buses spells some sort of police-enforced command that he must anyway go on a bus if he wants to or not. Smyth repeatedly characterizes arguments against expensive doubling of Highway One as a kind of plot to install dictatorial authoritarianism in place of democracy.

Bill Good seems to never understand what a debate, any debate, is, and seems crippled by an extraordinary and puzzling inability to grasp the nut of issues in general. Don’t be fooled: he’s smarter than that. With his bumbling Lieutenant Columbo act, he conveys a kind of wisdom through willful ignorance, a thing usually called “common sense” to distinguish it from “informed sense” or “studied sense.” By this he effectively propagates the very popular and certainly comforting notion that no public debate is really required on especially the most important issues. “Common sense” we already have—no need to think or learn anything more beyond what we already know, or rather “feel.”

CKNW and radio in general typically escapes the widespread condemnation heaped on print media like the Vancouver Sun and National Post, but it is easily as influential a medium as daily local newspapers, if not more so, particularly on issues such as transportation policy since radio is the medium flowing through drivers while driving. Its ownership should be as scrutinized for motivations and agendas as much as the daily newspapers routinely are.

Surely such a consistent, repeated and extremist view occurring across the range of time slots every day points to some sort of corporate policy at CKNW owner Corus Entertainment, itself majority owned by the Shaw family, owners of giant Shaw Communications, based in Calgary, the capital of the nation’s thriving oil industry.

It’s either that or a surprisingly closed company culture exists in the milieu of the radio station in which the views of a majority of their listening market go completely unrecognized. But that would require all hosts at CKNW to lead lives in which they encounter no one outside a small established circle of friends and family, ever. That would be harder to believe than that there is a corporate head office instruction to hosts regarding key public policy debates, in particular transportation policy.

At the same time, some activities and statements endorsed by some bicycling advocates, usually the more prominent ones, seem unnecessarily provocative as well, and just as closed to thoughtfulness and intellectual reflection. Nothing exemplifies this more than the Critical Mass bike tour of city streets which occurs every last Friday of the month—during rush hour.

The deleterious effect is intended. Sometimes hundreds of bikes flow past and block cars in all directions on the busiest streets, creating delays that can last ten minutes. (That may not seem like much, but consider that ten minutes of saved commuting time to Langley is the best promise made by the government spending $3 billion to double the capacity of Highway One).

The philosophy of the Critical Mass bike ride was inspired by public parades of oppressed groups in decades past that have effectively served to bring to light unjust conditions, as Pride parades have done for gays and lesbians, and civil rights marches had done for blacks in years past. The idea is, cyclists in numbers taking over the streets would reveal to the larger public an oppressed minority—those who prefer bikes—thereby generating the attention necessary to see their oppression redressed.

The most repeated and most enthusiastically embraced chant on Critical Mass bike rides is, “We aren’t blocking traffic, we are traffic!” This chant serves to cement a solidarity with oppressed and marginalized groups everywhere who similarly plead for equal rights compared to a majority culture they are immersed, or lost, within. The point they wish to make is that bicycling infrastructure and increased respect for bicyclists on roads would not entail special treatment for them, but would merely provide equal treatment to what motorists enjoy.

It’s a valid and worthwhile point to make, but the Critical Mass technique for making it fails for the same reason paid reactionaries at CKNW and other media fail: Critical Mass enthusiasts seem to assume the people behind the car windshields like only cars, use them all the time and wish to force everyone else to as well. But the fight to get transit and bicycling infrastructure is qualitatively unlike civil rights, gay rights and women’s rights movements that the Critical Mass ride is based on in one critically important way: Blacks, gays and women are always blacks, gays and women, and are never white, straight or male. But car drivers are bicyclists and transit users and bicyclists are car drivers, at least from time to time.

Just as irate motorists assume cycling enthusiasts intend to destroy all cars and force everyone onto bikes, cycling advocates seem to assume motorists want to destroy all cycling infrastructure and banish bikes from streets. The Critical Mass ride serves the same exclusionary, extremist ends that the narrow, closed-minded CKNW hosts serve: they encourage the further withering of empathy increasingly rampant throughout an alarming range of policy debates.

We already know that local use of cars is fated for radical transformation in its confrontation with global historical evolutions in climate change, oil prices and wars. And we can already see the consequent beginning of a large transformation in social attitudes toward cars taking place. Not long ago, both sides in such a dispute would have proceeded without questioning the assumption that cars are pleasurable, convenient, identity-enhancing and freedom-producing. Today, both sides presume to the same lack of examination and questioning that cars are costly traps that restrict choices. The public debate on both sides now takes the form of arguments about whether it is possible or not to escape their trap. The radio show hosts look for ways, sometimes ridiculous, to express their real fear about these transformations. The bicycling advocates with missionary zeal work at “tough love” to break the drivers from the trap in the manner of incarcerating a drug addict.

Here then is where there is lubrication between the plates that might let loose the little slippage that causes the earthquake that realigns the tectonic plates: is there a mass consciousness-awakening to the fact that we all now agree on at least one thing, that cars have set us in a trap? That would mark a tremendous shift in social attitudes toward cars in the space of just a decade or so.

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The Car of the Future

The future of the car is the past. It's over. All this nonsense is desperation. Cars are a trap - environmentally and socially.

In the future there will still be people marketing garbage you don't need that will only do what you don't want... But it won't be cars anymore.

What are cars for anyway? We need transportation - not public masturbation. Cars don't move people around, they move steel, oil, plastic and dollars. Why would anyone own a car in the city? Just to have a big financial burden than is too big and slow and destructive to get you anywhere?

Oh yes, social status. Cars use bicycle and train technology but are considered to be horseless carriages - the stage coach limousine. Social status is the reason for cars. Cars in the city are needed in order to fit in. But that is changing - and the whole sham of an industry will disappear just as quickly as it rose up.

Bye bye and good riddance.

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streetfilm of vancouver carfree day

A really nice video summarising it - especially for those of us who missed it because we were out of town! Streetfilms is a really neat bike propaganda enterprise. They were down in Portland at Towards Carfree Cities but I didn't get to see their presentation because it was such a busy conference and I had to babysit too! Apparently they grew out of the old NY BikeTV thing which was a sort of videotape distribution for cable access TV. I've only seen a few of their bits but everything I've seen has been great.



Coal Eco-Carz of the Future!

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Yesterday I took a Bike Ride with 2011 friends