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!


Critical Mass Ride and Roll, Friday, August 28

Join fellow bicyclists, skaters, and bladers for this leisurely and spirited celebratory ride and roll through the streets of Vancouver. Meet at the Vancouver Art Gallery on the Georgia Street side between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m. -- and roll and ride at 6:00 p.m. The ride is on rain or shine! Decorated bicycles, trailers, signs, flags, noisemakers, gettoblasters, sound systems, drums, and wildly modified bicycles are all highly encouraged!

Pre-rides to Critical Mass:

UBC riders meet at the UBC Bike Hub, on the north east end of the Student Union Building, at 4:30 p.m. for a group ride to the Vancouver Art Gallery. Phone 604-822-BIKE for details.

East Van riders meet 4:00 p.m., leaving 4:30 p.m., from Grandview Park, 1200-block Commercial Drive, for a group ride to the Vancouver Art Gallery.

What's Critical Mass and how do I participate?

Celebrated around the world, Critical Mass is a grassroots reclamation of public space -- on the last Friday of the month -- which allows cyclists and other self-propelled people to move safely and comfortably through city streets in a car-free space. Non-polluting forms of transportation are promoted.

The ride stays together for safety and fun. If you are at the front of the ride, stop if you are approaching a red light. But continue as a group if the lights change red while passing though an intersection.

You will see participants peel off at the front to block motorized traffic from entering the Mass. That's called "corking". Corkers keep the ride safe and allow the Mass to pass though intersections where the lights have turned red. Thank them for corking!

Never cork alone. Join lone corkers, and for intersections there should be six or more corkers. And remember, do not cork oncoming traffic in opposing lanes.

If you're at the front, please don't speed or take narrow roadways or paths. It stretches the ride out and makes life harder for corkers, riders, and those waiting for the Mass to pass. Be aware of the ride's slower participants, and keep a slower pace. If the Mass has thinned out or has broken into more than one group, which happens following hills or where the street has becomes more lanes, the front should wait at green lights for the group to "mass up".

Don't stay on any given street for very long, so that public transit can pass. And always let emergency vehicles through. Please don't ride on sidewalks or in opposing traffic lanes.

The ride is a celebration, and an alcohol/drug free event. Take absolute responsibility for your actions and show motorists a better way to travel. A way which is more equitable, efficient, fun and socially responsible than the car. There's no need to be unfriendly or argue with motorists -- our sheer numbers tell the story. Look after each other, speak up, and ride with confidence.

Who decides where we go?

You do! Some rides have a destination or route that may be suggested at the start of the ride, but the route is always decided by the riders in the front. If you have an idea where the ride should go, move to the front and participate with others in a group decision. Remember to make it fun and interesting, and that Critical Mass has no leaders.

A special note to those at the front: It becomes unsafe for those in the rear if the Mass strrrreeeetches out, there are big gaps, or the body of the Mass looses it's tail. If the front can no longer see the rear, or the Mass has just passed through a "choke point", stop at an intersection where there's room for the entire Mass to completely bunch up again (and where the front of the ride can see the rear again).

For more information:

Critical Mass Vancouver on Facebook:

Worldwide details may be found at:

Upload/View Vancouver Critical Mass Photos at


Critical Mass Potluck & Discussion

Calling all CM participants ((( ( (  (   (      (            (

(please read the *Assessment of Current Situation* below for a description of some of the challenges that Critical Mass is currently facing)

In this world there are two ways to deal with situations we encounter. The first way would be to go out and find some official or leader to tell us what to do, OR we can get together, share some food and friendship, and discuss the issues ourselves!

Regardless of how long you have been riding in Critical Mass, the time feels right to get together to strategize on the present nature of Critical Mass, and on the future of these empowering and somewhat controversial rides. Can you imagine ways we could communicate more clearly? What is your favorite part of the ride, and are there elements we should leave behind? What about the idea of a "Mass Class" (education sessions pre-ride), or broadcasting Live Pirate Radio during the ride? A rolling celebration!

As when we ride, we’ve ALL got the chance to shape this culture, to define how we want to be together during Critical Mass: our monthly celebration, reclamation, and definition of Vancouver public space.

~you are invited to the:

POTLUCK & DISCUSSION: Critical Mass, We Are Traffic
6pm, Wednesday, August 19
David Lam Park (on the seawall near the Roundhouse)
(Rain location: The Roundhouse Community Centre, same date and time)

-Bring some tasty food to share and a plate / cup / utensil.
-Probably best to think of this as an alcohol-free space so we can get some work done too.
-Please talk to others, and encourage your friends to join the conversation. We are all leading this crazy thing!

Discussion will begin at 6:45pm. Likely we will have some initial discussion to frame the issues, then break off into working groups so that we can talk about aspects of the ride which we are most personally passionate about.

Ideas for discussion (list will be modified / expanded by whoever is at the meeting on Wednesday):

\\\Current CM experiences
\\\Leaderless Group Communications and Decision-making
\\\Media Opportunities and messaging
\\\Intra-group communications: email listserves, facebook, websites, xerocracy
\\\Safety Ideas
\\\Vancouver Police Department
\\\Lions Gate Bridge

Assessment of Current Situation

///Vancouver is known for having peaceful and celebratory Critical Mass (CM) rides.

///Recently, rides have been really big and have gotten stretched out. This creates dangers for individual riders, and has also resulted in some violence at intersections.

///¼ of July riders were first time CMers. Many others had participated only 1 or 2 times. This means that the majority of riders are new-ish. Many riders who have been participating in previous years no longer ride in Critical Mass for a variety of reasons.

///A majority of participants do not know what it takes to keep CM safe (very slow with stops at front, choosing large roads with no bottlenecks, 8-12 corkers per intersection)

///CM has taken center stage in the media, with VPD and the City speaking out wanting the ride to be safe and peaceful. We’ve got the spotlight: how are we seen, and how do we want to be seen?

///CM remains SUPER EMPOWERING for cyclists, as we determine how the road gets used, and affirm our rights to ride.

///Some people think CM should be ended, or should be changed so that it does not encourage an ‘us vs them’ mentality, or that it shouldn’t go over the Lions Gate bridge, or that we should all wear helmets, or that the police shouldn’t be there, or that we should pre-plan a route, or that ETC… LETS TALK!

For more info (but not to discuss issues ahead of time) you can contact any of the following people, who with a few others got together after the last ride to talk about how to have a larger conversation about Critical Mass.

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We can do this article about CM:

Vancouver's bike shorts in a knot for nothing

Rod Mickleburgh

What is it with Vancouver? Mere days after the local media and citizenry worked themselves into a ludicrous lather over the closing of a single lane on the Burrard Bridge, oops, they did it again.

This time, hysteria levels were raised to a fever pitch about the Critical Mass bike ride destined to bring civilization as we know it to an end last Friday, with several thousand cyclists refusing to stop at red lights and being purposefully vague about where they were going. The horror, the horror.

These monthly rides to celebrate biking have been taking place for a while, but this time, for some reason, everyone seemed to go a little nuts. Police begged for advance notice of the route, radio hotlines burned with rage, city councillors urged calm, and the media prepared once more for chaos – choppers and breathless reporters at the ready.

Of course, the rides are a pain in the butt for downtown drivers trying to get somewhere on a busy Friday night. The previous Critical Mass produced an actual altercation. But no worry. Riders were told how to handle angry motorists.

“Stopping to ogle seems to escalate the problem by focusing on the conflict. Breathe deeply,” a Critical Mass pamphlet suggested, adding helpfully, “It is harder for people to be angry when we are having so much fun. …” True, that. You want to put a smile on the face of a Hummer driver? Just send thousands of cheery cyclists past him when he's trying to get to the bar.

Similarly, for those brave souls standing in the way of cars at intersections: “You can wave at the bikers going by, and entertain the drivers who are waiting.” How about sawing a cyclist in half?

At any rate, the pedal-pushers rode all over the city, and, as with the predicted Burrard Bridge brouhaha, nothing happened.

Still, Vancouver Police spokeswoman Constable Jana McGuinness kept us all up to date with rapid-fire reports, as if O.J. Simpson were headed down the highway in a white Bronco.

10:24 “The ride appears to be heading towards the Lions Gate Bridge, as they are now in Stanley Park Drive.”

10:35 “Riders appear to have abandoned the plan to head over the Lions Gate Bridge and are now headed back into the downtown core along Robson Street.”

10:51 “Riders are once again heading along the Stanley Park causeway towards the Lions Gate Bridge.”

11:38 “The riders are now crossing the Burrard Bridge and may be heading towards Kits Beach.”

11:50 “The ride has concluded near Kits Beach and participants are breaking off on their own now.”

11:52 “Why am I here?” (Just kidding about that one…)

The city slept soundly.

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