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!


August 29th Critical Mass - Wedding theme!!!

Event Details:

August 29th Critical Mass Ride - Wedding theme!!!

5pm gather, 6pm ride - Vancouver Art Gallery (usual place, usual time)

August is the month of weddings! When you see newlyweds driving around honking with kleenex flowers on their cars and tin cans behind, don't you wish they were on bicycles? Don't you wish YOU were in a seafoam green bridesmaid dress riding along?? I know I sure do! I'm hoping my wish can come true, and lots of people will dress up themselves and their bicycles in wonderful wedding regalia for the next critical mass. Come feel the summer love!

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Food for Thought

A Wiki for the Planet: Clay Shirky on Open Source Environmentalism

By Alexis Madrigal August 20, 2008 | 6:00:00 AM

Clay Shirky is a leading thinker about how the internet is changing the world. In his writing, especially the recent book, he detailed how the networked world allows people to form leaderless groups that still do useful work.

Through illuminating examples like his calculation that Wikipedia was created in about the same amount of time that Americans spend watching commercials each weekend, Shirky argues that humans in the post-industrial age are just coming to terms with how to spend their "cognitive surplus."

We talked with him about how that surplus might be directed at tackling global environmental degradation. Shirky focused on the need for new legal and social structures -- working through online media -- to enable collective action.

Along the way, he touched on Facebook's limitations, why conserving oil might not actually help the world, and why Linux programmers and Critical Mass cyclists might be the new models for political action. Can you talk about how social applications could help solve environmental problems?
Clay Shirky: There is no larger collective-action problem than the environment. The three biggest lies of the environmental movement is that every little bit helps, you can do your part, and together we can do it. [Compact fluorescent lightbulbs] are nice, but people going down and changing CFLs in a handful of fixtures isn't going to cut it.

It's a collective-action problem. The difference between what all the people can do individually and the global consumption of nonrenewable resources is huge. The tension is … what will it take to get people to act in concert? There isn't any additive solution to the problem. It will be both governmental and social because that's the scale of the problem. Have you seen any social applications online that begin to
approach that scale?
Shirky: No, not yet. This is something I discovered as a result of doing the book. There are lots and lots of examples of large-scale sustained work in the world of IP. Linux and Wikipedia. These are large-scale, long-term efforts. But in the domain of collective action, it's almost all short-term and almost all protest-oriented.

There's a couple of reasons for that. Collective action is considerably harder to arrange than simple collaboration. It's a strange to say that something like Wikipedia is simple, but compared to large-scale collective action problems, it is.

The other big change is that there would have to be some structure for recognizing the groups taking the action. There are examples from intellectual property. The GNU public license, creative commons license, etc. … These are ways of carving out the rights that participants have. It seems to me that one of the things that's missing on a collective action front is the ability for people to come together in a way that is similar
to Linux and Wikipedia, but has specific, targeted policy goals.

Issue-oriented nonprofits, e.g. The Sierra Club, need to be involving more participants, but that seems to require new legal structure, not just a bunch of people trying to do the right thing. If that was all it took, Wikipedia would have happened 10 years before it did. It takes people who want to do the right thing and the structure to
make that happen. What sort of online tools would enable that kind of collaboration? What's missing?
Shirky: What's missing is there's no license. There's no equivalent of the GPL [ GNU General Public License].
There's been some tools for collaborative production of thinking. Anything from mailing lists to Wikis. What we don't have is tools for acting once a decision has been taken. In Linux the final action is the compile step. In Wikipedia the action is the latest edit.

Now we need to turn around and do X out in the world. I don't think that there's anything digital that we could do that would solve this gap. I think the gap is produced by the difficulty of translating thought into action. I think the kind of things that help people turn thoughts into action are much more about social and legal structures.

What is the significant long-term policy we need to put in place to start replacing fossil fuel energy sources? That's not a Facebook app in Facebook's current incarnation.

The way I'm asking myself the question is: who is the current Richard Stallman [founder of the Free Software Foundation]
… Is there someone working on the problem of translating thought into action in a way that all members of the group can agree on? This is the incredible thing about Linux. Even when individual coders find decisions not to their liking, it's still better to stick around with Linux as it is. The legitimacy that Linux has acquired has kept the group together. Who's out there that's thinking about the structural difficulties of turning thought into action? I know it's not me. I wish it was. It may be David Johnson at New York Law School [creator of Do Tank, Democracy Design Workshop].

Whoever gets that right is going to be providing the key thing that's missing right now. When you talk about collective action, it sounds like you're talking about local government. Maybe it's not true in national government where each individual's contribution to the decision-making process approaches zero, but you can change policy at the county or city level.

Shirky: You can have some sustained impact on local policy. A group worth modeling is Critical Mass, who have essentially said that there is absolutely no reason the streets have to be owned by cars. We'll demonstrate that by owning the streets for one day.

The NYPD is furious about these guys and they came out recently and -- they so don't understand what's going on -- they said, "We're willing to sit down with these guys and make a deal. We're willing to sit down with their leader …" And co-opt them.
Shirky: Exactly, but they won't tell us who their leader is. Critical Mass has a structure where that kind of negotiation is off the table. Who the police deptartment is bargaining with is the populace, the bike-riding populace. That is the kind of thing that is possible. What do you think about organizing efforts like Bill McKibben's
Shirky: I sort of reflexively dislike McKibben. He wrote a book with a section about the value of a duck swimming around a pond and contrasting that with the vast wasteland of television. But he made a whole point of not telling people about where it was. It's private property. He owns it and he's able to go there. Any solution that doesn't work for cities doesn't work. McKibben's natural splendor argument is so unfit for the 21st
century. That said, I haven't seen 350. Maybe his thinking has changed. What about currently existing apps that allow resource sharing or the like to push down demand? Could they have an impact? Like, say, something like the
new.facebook Carpool app?
Shirky: Obviously this is the type of thing where lots and lots of different efforts add up to something. Certainly the social networking services have a role. For those sorts of point-to-point matching, social networks are quite good. There are a lot of effects there where if you take a group of people that just needs a coordination layer, to come together and do something, the Facebooks of the world are great.

Here's the problem: Lowering demand alone tends to lower the price, and lowering the price lowers it for everybody. Everything that reduces an individual's purchase on the fuel network ends up subsidizing businesses' use of the same fuel.

You can conserve aluminum. You can see that the can goes into recycling. But if you don't use oil, that oil is available to use. Then the cost comes down so demand rises again. As useful as carpooling might be in the short-term … anything that only reduces demand is subsidizing price. Carpooling is important for urban density, air pollution and other reasons but carpooling is not the kind of thing that actually changes the energy equation. But what about a world in which the supply of energy is limited?
Shirky: The Peak Oil argument .… If the factors driving the price of oil up are much more tied to supply than demand, which isn't this year, and probably not in five years, but maybe in 10 years, we'll be carpooling as a kind of crisis response. But the effect of carpooling will be to lengthen the crisis of oil .… The longer we can use oil as efficiently as we do, the longer it postpones the search for

WiSci 2.0: Alexis Madrigal

Wired Science on

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Vancouver Police Terrorize 3 year old?

Man arrested and released after taking naked son to bike ride in Vancouver
The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — Naked cyclists converged on Vancouver's main police station Saturday after a man was arrested with his three-year-old son during a nude ride earlier in the day.

Naked Bike Ride spokesman Conrad Schmidt said six squad cars and a paddy wagon showed up as the group of about 75 naked cyclists arrived along the city's English Bay.

He said the boy was in tears as police took him and his father away.

Schmidt said the arrest prompted the group to cycle through downtown Vancouver to the police station.

Vancouver Police Const. Jana McGuinness said several people had called police, concerned about the child's well-being. Police arrived and reached an agreement with the man that both he and his child would wear underwear during the ride.

As he left to join the group on the ride, the man [a.k.a. his father!?] stripped his and his son's clothes off. The father was then arrested at the scene of the bike ride under public nudity laws.

However, McGuinness said it appeared the man regretted his actions.

"When they were leaving (the scene) it was under the understanding that perhaps he hadn't shown the best judgement, there were a number of people that took offence to the child being naked in the group and subjected to people's scrutiny," she said. "It sounds like it's been a good lesson all around."

Not all the cyclists who made the trip through Vancouver's tourist-crowded downtown core supported the protest.

One cyclist who declined to give her name said the man took off the boy's pants [neutral language, eh]

She said most of the cyclists did not agree with the situation and would not be protesting. [really? then why did they go to the copshop to support him? that doesn't make sense]

"The leaders of this event do not support what the guy did," she said.

"I think that's wrong. The kid's a minor." [kid=minor... makes sense... and nudity is for adults only? pervert!]

The ride went down the city's crowded Robson Street, stopping [sure?] both vehicle and pedestrian traffic and drawing hoots and horns.
What the heck is going on here? Obviously we're not getting the whole story from the toady media. I suppose we shouldn't rush to judgement but it looks like the morality police are running roughshod over this family. On one ride I've done (not a large organised one) a cop in a paddywagon took offence and tried to get me in trouble. He called in more cops to support him... which lead to it becoming apparent to the other police that he was the problem not me and eventually they just left and most of the other officers thought it was funny/a waste of their time. This seems like a similar situation except that the police who came to support didn't have the common sense to undermine the moralist... maybe he had a higher rank?

I don't understand the anti-nudity stance being applied to children more than adults. That's the opposite of logical. Children love being naked and obcenity is a lot more likely from adults. Kids shouldn't be encumbered by such stupid anti-nudity laws. Breastfeeding and toplessness is actually a right, though full nudity can be considered "lewd" upon the subjective judgement of the officer. This ride isn't an adult or sexual event - it's nude. This story has a lot of major problems which makes me rush to judge it. For instance supposedly a cyclist said "the man took off the boy's pants" is very perverse... yes, 3 year olds get dressed by their parents... I wasn't at this ride but I have been on many rides and would be extremely surprised if the character of this was so different from the many I have been to.

In a way I hope they charge the dad so that he can embarass the VPD in court. Though more likely it will be another illegal/harrassment arrest without charge (which does mean less hassle in the long term so many don't complain and it is common)

I'm quite interested in this because now that I have a son I've considered taking him on the WNBR but haven't actually done it yet for various reasons (Gimme a break it was cold this June, he is only 7 months old -- he has gone to 2 CMs and a Kidical Mass already)

does anyone have more info about this?

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naked bike ride now

pppssst... Pass it on!

Naked cyclists ride again!!!

When: Saturday August 23rd (Body Acceptance Day)
Body art starts at Noon and ride starts at 2pm

Start Location: Sunset Beach
Corner of Beach and Bute

And best of all - there will be an after party
Come to the ride to find out where

For more info please email Jessica Rabbit at touchmeirock at

**Rules of the Naked Bike Ride!**
. Many riders will be naked, rain or shine.
. You don't have to be naked to ride, but the spirit of the ride is some state of undress.
. If you are uncomfortable with being naked at the start of the ride, there will be opportunity during the ride.
. Keep your cloths with you -- you never know when you may need them.
. If its sunny, put on sunscreen.
. Ride safely and stay together as a group.
. Tell Everyone!

(this link doesn't work for the non-crackbook users but I doubt there is anything important there - I don't know, I don't use that thing Pssst, hey people organising stuff! Facebook-only announcements are pretty half-baked, you should check to see something is public first, and facebook specifically isn't! Forgoodnesssakes I even made an alternate page for flickr when I sent out our baby photos, Don't be zombies)

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City of Cars for Cars

The Animal Critical Mass - Criminalz! This is great. I wouldn't be brave enough to do it myself but it's such a great thing to take an idea that everyone should know - that bikes are faster and better - and to apply it where we are not allowed.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008
In a city made for cars, why are bicycles getting places faster?

Los Angeles, CA (May 13, 2008) — Beginning in April, as commuters were mired in the typical Friday rush-hour traffic logjam, members of an organization calling itself CRIMANIMALZ, pronounced [krim-an-i-muhlz] have taken to two of Los Angeles’ busiest freeways on bicycles in a flash mob-type protest aimed at raising questions about transportation. Weaving in and out of choked traffic, cyclists surprised frustrated motorists with a spirited sprint on the region’s most clogged and polluted arteries. More rides are planned.

Friday, April 18th, 2008
The time (5:30 p.m.) and day (April 18) were carefully chosen after considerable research and scouting over a two-week planning stage. Based on unverified data and rider speculation, motor vehicles were moving at a speed between 5 and 10 mph. There was no strategy on what to do when actually on the freeway, as the group’s riders agreed to an “every rider for themselves” approach in regards to possible police retaliation.

Starting in Santa Monica, 15 bicyclists boarded the Cloverfield on-ramp (Santa Monica Fwy/I-10) and rode 0.87 miles to the Centinela off-ramp. They re-entered the I-10 Fwy at Bundy and rode 0.44 miles to the I-405 N on-ramp and rode another 1.56 miles to the Santa Monica Blvd. exit. The ramp to the I-405 N was a steep grade and 0.65 miles in length. Riders spanned a total of 2.87 freeway miles.

Friday, May 9th, 2008
At 5:30pm starting in Santa Monica, 28 bicyclists took surface streets to the I-10 Fwy at Bundy and rode 0.44 miles to the I-405 N on-ramp and rode another 1.56 miles to the Santa Monica Blvd. exit. The ramp to the I-405 N was a steep grade and 0.65 miles in length. Riders spanned a total of 2.0 freeway miles.

The group of riders also hung a 20’x6’ banner on the 17th street overpass overlooking the eastbound I-10 Freeway in Santa Monica that read RIDE A BIKE YOU’D BE HOME BY NOW. The sign remained in place for over 48 hours.


While the ride’s political stance and agenda was neutral, many participants invoked the group’s collective motto: “If you rode a bicycle, you’d be home by now!” – a statement against oil dependency, in support of sustainable living and a collective critique of the Los Angeles transportation infrastructure. The riders are pointing out that in a city like Los Angeles made for cars, bicycle riders are reaching their destinations faster.
Long Term Goals

Members of the CRIMANIMALZ are looking for city officials to make bicycle safety a priority, not only through the creation of safe and easy places to ride, but also as a means of transportation on the city’ increasingly busy thoroughfares. With rising gas prices and government bent on pushing sustainable practices, more people are expected to turn to bikes as an alternative means of transportation.


CRIMANIMALZ was created out of rider reaction to the Santa Monica Police Department’s crackdown of Santa Monica Critical Mass, a bicycle ride with as many as 300 participants that meet on the first Friday of the month. Ignored in large for over two years, Santa Monica Police officers issued 32 citations, many erroneously, at the Santa Monica Critical Mass ride on November 2nd of 2007. Critical Mass participants voiced their outrage at the City of Santa Monica Council Meeting a few weeks later. Some participants convened as Council of N, a secret group that privately discussed the police harassment. Council of N talked with city officials and Santa Monica Police Chief Timothy J. Jackman, but talks led nowhere.

Several of the Council of N members voted on creating a secondary ride in Santa Monica, this time calling it Criminal Mass, naming it so because they felt they were being criminalized for their legal behaviors. This name was changed to CRIMANIMALZ, a portmanteau of the words Critical, Criminal and Animals. The name CRIMANIMALZ invokes the animal spirit of the Westside bicycling community which is host to large group rides with names like Los Angelopes, a large antelope with ape hanger handles for antlers for a mascot and Pier Pressure, in which a giraffe and pigeon with a handlebar moustache wearing a cycling cap is a recurring theme.

Critical Mass rides are a monthly bicycle ride that typically occurs on the last Friday of the month to celebrate the joy and virtues of bicycling. The Critical Mass concept started in San Francisco in September 1992 and has spread to cities all over the world.


“The freeways are surprisingly safe bicyclists. Freeways eliminate the danger of car doors flying open, substandard bike lanes, pedestrians, traffic lights, potholes and erratic lane changes. Even if cars weren’t gridlocked, I feel safer riding on the freeway with vehicles doing 75mph 15 feet away from me, than on the streets with cars traveling 10mph, one or two feet away from me.” Alex Cantarero (Triumvirate)

“I just wanted to raise questions about the city’s transportation infrastructure.” Morgan Strauss (Triumvirate)

“In a city made for cars, why are bicycles getting places faster?” Richtotheie (Triumvirate) -
Alex Cantarero, Morgan Strauss, Richtotheie

Media Information

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super doo!

Just for fun, a 1940ish movie collection of some unusual bikes. Recumbents, seatless unicycles, triplets, tall bikes, trailers, etc.

You thought that most of these were new developments? Think again.

(from Ron Richings on velolove)

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