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!


Hallowe'en Critical Mass 2008

Hey Wow ---

I just realised (updating my email sig) that the last Friday of October, Critical Mass, falls exactly on the 31st!

This is going to be FUN!!!

Start planning your costumes now. (Try and make them so you can see out of them too.)

PS: Please try and lobby David Rees to put this video on his blog!?

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  • At 4:16 am, October 16, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "Why do you keep insisting that CM is illegal? What does that even mean? We don't belong on the road but cars do?"

    Because it *is* illegal. Blocking traffic on purpose is illegal, running red lights is illegal, riding a bike in a car lane is illegal. Just as if a car driving in a bike lane would be illegal.
    On top of that I asked one of the policemen that ride along with you, and he said it was "totally illegal". This is coming from a traffic official who knows of such things.
    It just plain *is* illegal, and you know it.

    "Having fun in the streets is something everyone should be able to do."
    Streets are for transportation. Not to have fun on. You're being ridiculous.

    "Do you even know the purpose of bike lanes? They are good PR but they don't make you safer."

    Yep, pretty sure I know what bike lanes are for, let me think...
    Bike lanes are for bikes. Sidewalks are for pedestrians. Car lanes are for cars.
    When I walk, I don't walk in a bike lane, when I bike, I don't bike in a car lane or sidewalk.
    I mean, are you 4 years old, this is pretty basic stuff.

  • At 8:31 pm, October 16, 2008, Blogger VanCM Blogger said…

    Now we are getting somewhere. Basic stuff. The stuff of assumptions. The foundations to logical reasoning!

    Bike lanes are NOT for bikes. Sidewalks are NOT for pedestrians. I am not just being absurd though I know that is sounds like it. Think about it.

    Now, of course bike lanes and sidewalks have an intended purpose. However, what exactly IS that purpose and what is it's context.

    We are starting with a public road. The space between private spaces. The space for transportation and mobility as you correctly point out but also a place for fun, VITAL and REAL public dialogue among the many public DUTIES that must be preformed here. Where else can public activity take place if not the street? Parks and community centre's and beaches are all well and good but they don't fulfil all the needs of our public duties. For instance emergency personal use the streets, as do the newsmedia et al. Mobility is probably the most striking feature of this public area but mobility and transportation are multi-faceted.

    Now this road is a pretty old place in the scale of human invention. Long, long before the private automobile the road was there to carry on this public function. Let's say for simplicity's sake that it goes back to the Romans. An interesting philosopher on cities said that the architecture of the Roman Empire was its strongest-longest lasting propaganda. And the roads the most far-reaching (aquaducts, colloseums come next). "All roads lead to Rome," as is said, and certainly the stonework of that empire has been primary in our modern (well, renaissance) reconstruction of that formerly lost civilisation.

    Let's move forward to the middle ages when we re-imagined Rome but this time without the plumbing.

    The road is a place of public display. How do parades work and processions? Order and placement in the formation of the ranks of people moving is very important to indicate social status. This wasn't trivial. Church processions when the church ran Europe were not just fun and games. The order goes like this: Centre of the road, the place of priveledge. Out towards the sides, less so. The extreme lower status is in the margins, the edge of the road or off the pavement where the latrines would be dumped, the gutter.

    Now fast forward some many centuries and lets look at the beginning of our modern roads. Here we have sidewalks. Sidewalks were wooden planks raised high above the horse manure of the rest of the road. Height also give priveledge. But the sidewalks were still marginal. They are attached to the buildings (or now in our case the "block") and don't continue.

    ...we could get into a lot of interesting social history in that era... But let's get to the point instead; Now:

    We have concrete roads and the sidewalks are slightly raised. Why is the road raised now that we no longer need to avoid horse dung? Well, there is drainage. But more importantly to protect the pedestrian from the automobile. The uneven curb road surface serves as a barrier to the wheeled road users to mark out what space cannot be driven. Recently, there have been some painted lines put on these roads which have bicycle symbols painted there. This is the bike lane and a universal beacon of progress and environmental enlightenment (sic).

    Now look back again, what are the lines for and the curbs? Do they serve a purpose for the intended user? A painted line doesn't help me to cycle. In fact, if it gets slick in the raid it can be quite dangerous to ride near. The curb doesn't enchance your place of walking, in fact you might trip over it and if you are a wheeled pedestrian (in a chair) then it is a serious obstacle.

    Curbs and lanes are there a signals to car users of the street. They are built to facilitate cars. Their secondary function is to allow pedestrians and cyclists to pass. Though they may often hinder the secondary goal (slipping, tripping) these facilities are important so that others can use the road. There is no sucg thing as "car lanes." Where have you seen that word before? There are just lanes, and we assume the cars. Cars take the whole street unless there is a painted line asking them not to or if there is a raised sidewalk physically obstructing them.

    This is how roads are used. I don't think you and I would really disagree about this but maybe you haven't thought about the fundamentals so obcessively as I have before.

    Now I don't want to go on for ever but lets just let that basic point sit for a while. We are not blocking traffic, we ARE traffic, that is our slogan. We move (often faster, not blocked at all) through the streets on bikes and maybe on foot. The biggest sin that we make is that we instead take up these "car lanes" and don't stay in the gutter. We do not accept the socially inferior road placement of the gutter for the last friday of every month.

    It is fundamental politics, not radical. Radical would be shoving the tailpipe down the throats of those driving the machines and tying down the drivers to the road in the bike lane so they too could experience the "bike lane" space as cars drive over them and "reasonable exahaust" as they die from poison gasses.

    Critical Mass is fun and it is positive. There is conflict, no doubt, but it isn't something brought solely by the bikers. This is a conflict of public status that cannot be avoided if those taking the lower position time and time again refuse do do so for a few hours.

    Take care and take the lane!

  • At 4:07 am, October 26, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "Bike lanes are NOT for bikes. Sidewalks are NOT for pedestrians. I am not just being absurd though I know that is sounds like it. Think about it."

    Holy geez, did you actually say that? Really? Amazing.
    So all those bikers biking to work and home in the bike lane shouldn't be doing that?
    You're supposedly promoting safe biking, but then say that bike lanes aren't for bikes. Wow!!!!!!
    Ok, so I won't walk on the sidewalk anymore, I'll walk in the bike lane and tell the people trying to get to work on their bike that I'll be blocking that you said that the bike lanes aren't for them.

    "Bike lanes are NOT for bikes. Sidewalks are NOT for pedestrians."
    Wow!!! and Wow!!!

    Thanks for stating such a thing, now it can be used to undermine any kind of argument that you propose on this page. Your parents are kind enough to let you have this page, use it intelligently please.
    You blew it dude.

  • At 11:59 am, November 03, 2008, Blogger Rob said…

    "... riding a bike in a car lane is illegal."

    Riding a bike in a car lane is not illegal. The provincial act clearly states that bikes do have the right to ride in car lanes.

    " Just as if a car driving in a bike lane would be illegal."

    Technically it is not since bike lanes are not covered in any act of law. But straddling a lane is illegal - so by driving in a bike lane cars would be violating this law.

    ".. policemen that ride along with you, and he said it was "totally illegal". This is coming from a traffic official who knows of such things."

    An opinion of a law enforcement officer does not mean it is illegal. That would take a court decision. I have heard a least one lawyer state on CBC radio that the CM ride does fall under protection of the charter of rights.

  • At 2:51 am, November 16, 2008, Blogger VanCM Blogger said…

    So all those bikers biking to work and home in the bike lane shouldn't be doing that?
    You're supposedly promoting safe biking, but then say that bike lanes aren't for bikes. Wow!!!!!!
    Ok, so I won't walk on the sidewalk anymore, I'll walk in the bike lane and tell the people trying to get to work on their bike that I'll be blocking that you said that the bike lanes aren't for them.

    Oh, you got me. All that other stuff I wrote that you didn't bother to read was obviously just a trick. You figured it out. Thanks for showing me how clever you are and dumb I am Anonymous guy. I'm actually secretly telling people not to bike even though I make this website and promote and ride Critical Mass.

    Your logic of equivalence, that a pedestrian sitting in a bike lane "blocking it" is akin to CM riding in the "car lane" of the road "blocking" is stunning. How can you see these situations so blindly and like a little child, "I will do this back against you because you took away my toy?"

    Bike lanes are for cars. Sidewalks are for cars. I am saying that the entire street is built for cars. Pedestrians and cyclists can compete for the marginal space all they want it makes no differance - they are marginal road users. Our cities are built this way for a reason. If we expect people to seriously cycle or walk in the city then this must change.

    I hope that is simpler language that you can understand.

    I am not saying that people don't use these things or should not use them. A major part of the beauty of cycling is you can do it almost anywhere - the bike is very flexible. And walking of course is so basic that you certainly can do it despite having no space designated for walking (or marginal self defeating space).

    I am saying that you should not drive cars in the city. Not on the road. Of course cars do every so often also go on the sidewalk and the bike lane but this is a (somewhat) unusual occurance and not the main problem. The main problem is cars in the city and road build entirely for them.

    If you want too see how a city really accommodates people (not just cars) there are many examples in Europe such as Amsterdamn where cars are only allowed a portion of the road instead of all of it. The bike lanes there are also (in the way I am talking about) designed for cars (that is for avoiding cars, as our sidewalks are) but they do it effectively (with a rolling curb) and they designate reasonable amounts such that cars are only one road user instead of THE road user.

    If you want to find a city bike lane or sidewalk NOT built for cars you'll have to go to some outlandish place where there are no cars at all. There will be no curbs to trip over because there will not be protection from cars required. Do you get it now? Can you see though the car culture fog in your brain yet? We build these bike lanes and sidewalks as accomodation for cars so that cycling and walking don't interfere with driving by making it too dangerous. But we make our cities more dangerous by increasing driving when we accommodate it. To undo the damage cars have done to our cities we may need to reverse this and make driving less safe (less accommodated) and no longer keep to the margins. Getting in the way of cars is scary and unwise for the individual (because in a collision with a car you will lose). But collectively we must do this. This is one reason why Critical Mass is what we need though it obviously isn't the full answer.

  • At 3:00 am, November 16, 2008, Blogger VanCM Blogger said…

    PS: As much as I love re-writing the same thing over and over again defending the existence of CM in the comments section of CM ride announcement posts... (It does get me to refine my arguments quite a bit) This is a bit silly.

    I'm hereby giving notice that in future ride announcments I'm going to disable or limit comments to those related to the specific ride and not allow this kind of wanking boy discussion to continue. I enjoy having debates and discussion on this blog but I'm going to have to insist that people reply at least a little bit to the posts of ideas (not ride announcements) and to put things in the context of an intelligent discussion rather than one where one side (the car drivers who hate CM(make that car drivers who also have a bike so they are environmentalists too and know better than us)) keeps saying the same thing over and over again with no memory of what was said before.

    This isn't to stifle discussion but to improve it. If you want to complain about CM please write it in the place that makes sense. Heck, I'll even post an article on the topic. But not with every ride announcment, it just gets old after a while.


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