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!


Fun Family Ride Today!

It's that time of the month, it's that time of the year!

Leaving from the VAG around 6pm. Get there earlier.

Time for a fun ride in the streets of Vancouver. June is Bike Month. We've had an awesome Velopalooza. Good time to be biking in Vancouver.

Critical Mass rides every month. It is not really a protest. It is a celebration of peaceful public space. It is a direct action: by simply riding together we transform an unsafe and inhospitable environment into one that is safe. We can talk to each other and pedestrians are not endangered.

Critical Mass is not formally organised. It is anarchic. YOU are in charge, together. But it is not a mob. (Important to remember after recent mob Hockey destruction) We self organise. So, the event can change every month. For big rides like the June ride where maybe we can't all talk from the front to the back of the group it is really important that we remember these self organising principles to keep the ride safe, fun, positive and together. This has been written many times before but I'll write it again here now:

  • Stick together! That is the point. That means corking so the group stays together at intersections. That means stopping at red lights if you are at the front of the ride.
  • Keep it fun. That is why we are here, so keep it positive. So, let's take responsibility for the tone. Respect is really important and taking the high road is worth it. That means respect for drivers in cars, even agro drivers. They are people in those cars. They are trapped in a cage because they decided to get into a car this morning. They are trapped and confused because society doesn't facilitate them getting around except by car. So don't take it out on the agro driver even if they are taking it out on you. Talk in a calm voice. Try to diffuse things. If someone isn't receptive to your ideas don't force it. Remember and remind people, we are just riding together, we will be through soon, it isn't a long wait. Thank them for their patience. We all have to be patient as it takes years to change our system which is literally made of concrete and asphalt.
  • Talk to everyone! Tell them why you are here. Welcome new Massers. Please really show respect and solidarity with pedestrians. There have been incidents of pedestrians feeling trapped by the Mass in the past and this is not acceptable. A person on foot can be safely accommodated by the bikes at a Mass. That is the point. We're improving the space for everyone in the city, not just bikers.
  • Pause at the peak of the bridge to get the group together. It's important to periodically pause so that the fast people at the front and slow people at the back have a chance to stick together. This could be at the peak of a bridge, at a red light, or any time people at the front notice a gap behind them. The ride is no fun when it gets strung out as we take longer overall (too strung out) to go through intersections and it is unfair to corkers to have them stopping cars when bikes aren't there. There have been some rides where the self organising really broke down and we had a lot more conflict and less people having fun. So please, pay attention to this if you like to be up front. Usually this works well in June because it's known to be a big ride and we are extra diligent.
  • Be safe and careful: You are still riding a bike. You still need to watch where you are going! Sometimes riders get lulled by the fun social scene of the ride and are chatting instead of looking where they are! Don't get hurt. Wear a helmet. Save the libations for after the ride.
  • Watch out for others! We stick together, eh!? Sometimes someone might not notice a problem. It is up to you to speak up and make sure the ride is good for those around you. Some riders might be really inexperienced with biking - some people only ride bikes at Critical Mass because that is the only time they feel safe enough because of the group buffer from the cars. Such people need support from experienced cyclists. It never hurts to communicate. Also, young families like to enjoy the ride and sometimes need extra support.
  • For big rides (ie June and other summer rides), choose wide enough roads if you are at the front. We don't want a long long narrow strung out ride. Also, don't ride to the top of the LGB then turn around. Let's go to North Van already! It just makes more sense to not be doing U-turns like that.
  • If you do experience violent or threatening road rage then talk to the Police about it. Don't try to solve a violent problem yourself. Take a step back and breath. Don't become part of the problem.
I could go on for days but I won't. Let's just all have a fun ride. Looks like the rain might be clearing up. The ride is sure to end at a Beach as per tradition. :-)

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Ride a mile in my vehicle

I liked this article so much I've copied it here for posterity.

By Brad Kilburn, Richmond News June 22, 2011

“You’re not a cyclist, you’re a — motorist.”

My friend at work was right. The bottom bracket on my bike had given out, so while it was being repaired, I drove my car to work.

I couldn’t help but laugh at not only the intended irony of the assertion, but also at the way people instinctively categorize each other, and favor those who fall into their own category.

In the late 1960’s, British psychologists, working out of the University of Bristol, divided a group of schoolboys, who all knew each other, into two groups. They asked the boys to give money to each other anonymously, save for their group affiliation.

It turned out that the boys consistently gave more money to their own groups even though these groups that had just been formed, held no meaning. This was an example of “social categorization” and how penalties can be inflicted on a perceived “outside” group.

I believe people who ride bikes hear all kinds of complaints directed towards them simply because of their minority position. Conversely, drivers benefit from a blind eye being applied to them for similar infractions by the simple association of being part of the larger group.

One way in which cyclists are very much different from motorists however, and this may explain some of the empathy gap that exists between them, is that most cyclists are drivers, but relatively few drivers are cyclists. The vast majority of drivers essentially don’t understand what cyclists face on a daily basis; they only understand their own point of view.

Perhaps the best way to improve motorist/cyclist relations is to simply get more people to ride bikes. This is what happens in places like the Netherlands where just about everybody rides a bike. They all understand what it’s like to be in a car and on a bike, so they cooperate with each other. As a result, they have the safest road record in the world.

Riding a bike next to cars once in a while would help a motorist gain some perspective and understanding of a cyclists experience is like just as a cyclists experience driving cars does.

We’re all in the same boat using the same roads; we should be working together instead of driving wedges between ourselves. Being both a cyclist and a motorist is a good thing, if what we want are safer roads.
© Copyright (c) Richmond News

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Insider Scoop; Thursday BC Clettes song tip!

I've got an insider tip that for the ride Thursday, they will perform this nifty song!
Creekside Community Centre- outside, 1 Athlete's Way (Meet outside, just west of the centre, at the Giant Birds! SE False Creek, Olympic Village)
Join the B:C:Clettes in our 2nd Velopalooza ride: a rolling dance party around town- be a part of the show! Wear your amazing red, black and shiny, & bring your groovy moves. We'll ride to the tunes of the portable stereo: get ready for dancing- and yes, a short performance! We're debuting a brand new song: Bike Love!!

We'll celebrate the new bike lanes, with side trips to Gastown, Coal Harbour, and a beach stop to watch the setting sun. Optional: bring some red, black, or shiny snacks to share for the end. :)

Come join us- everyone welcome! Don't forget your red & black outfit. ;)

B:C:Clettes, bcclettes at gmail daht comm,

update, june 16, here is the performance from last Thursday video!

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Forced into Bike Lane?

Bike lanes can be awesome if done well - like the recent Hornby Bike lane (except for the 2 directions part). However, the idea that bikes are required to use the bike lane is insidious. Fortunately, I haven't seen that applied here, the VPD seem to be much more sensible than the NYPD. (I do remember Steve Balyi fighting a ticket in Victoria sucessfully, I doubt that even in NYC bikes required to use bike lane would hold up in court.) Nevertheless, this is an excellent and important video on the topic, even here. Among the automobile advocating general public there is certainly the sentiment that bikes should be "out of the way" in the bike lanes:

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