Vancouver Critical Mass

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Yes, we ride the last Friday of every month!


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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  • At 2:21 am, August 19, 2009, Anonymous MiK said…

    "are there elements we should leave behind?"

    -- yes. you should leave behind those that breaks the law. those who ride on the sidewalks/ don't stop at the red lights etc. these elements only hurt your cause.

    "What about the idea of a "Mass Class" (education sessions pre-ride)?"
    --that is absolutely vital. as CM gets bigger and attracts new members, the need for 'sensible cycling' lessons are imperative.
    cyclist's have as much rights as any other's - pedestrians and vehicle drivers included.

    organizers for critical mass should be careful that the event does NOT even implicitly give the impression to 'some' of its followers that cyclists' can trample other peoples' right to travel unhindered.

  • At 1:13 pm, August 20, 2009, Anonymous Ken said…

    I'm a big fan of Critical Mass, and have been enjoying the rides for several years, but
    I fear Critical Mass may have become a victim of its own success. Sadly, I debate whether to continue participating.

    I fear that if we don't ease tensions between cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians, we may have to resort to a very organized style of ride—set routes, agreed on by Vancouver City Police, with the worst case scenario being if we are forced to apply for a parade permit each month.

    Some of the problems I'm having difficulties with:

    1) Cyclists have crashed (badly) during the last three rides I've been on. These were all speed related and quite avoidable.

    2) There are too many near collisions with pedestrians at crosswalks.

    3) Auto traffic is completely blocked in both directions, even when it doesn't need to be.

    4) The ride gets hopelessly spread out which makes it dangerous for cyclists, and irritates auto drivers and pedestrians.

    We've got momentum, we've got mass, now let's educate ourselves to make a better ride.

    Some possible solutions:

    1) Where possible, keep a single lane open in the direction we're traveling. Do we really need to take up all the lanes?

    2) Don't stop on bridges, and never block bridge traffic in both directions. This is especially important on the Lions Gate Bridge, I suggest we keep to one side of the bridge, keeping the opposing lane(s) free, and travel right to the end of the bridge before turning around and coming back the other way.

    3) Work to keep the ride together.

    4) The ride has attracted a number of reckless riders—people who stunt on the sidewalks, etc. Sidewalks are for pedestrians. I think we have to police ourselves.

  • At 11:54 am, August 21, 2009, Anonymous Eric said…

    Sorry I missed the meeting, just found out about it today.

    I agree with MiK and Ken. I've gone on the last three rides, but have become increasingly disillusioned with the disrespect for pedestrians, as well as unnecessary blockage of traffic (corking before 5 minutes before the ride will proceed, for example).

    Also blocking the Lions Gate might be fun, but on a long-weekend Friday it's bound to defeat CM's cause. The ride shouldn't give up on it, but traverse the full bridge (in the green lane(s) only), take the cloverleaf to Taylor Way, and return back.

    For that matter, the ride shouldn't stop on any bridge. Unless it's a protest.

    Which is what I wonder about -- what's the purpose of a 2000-person CM ride? Was the main mission of CM discussed at the meeting? What is it?

  • At 7:22 pm, August 21, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hypocritical Mass!

  • At 9:44 pm, August 24, 2009, Blogger Sandy said…

    Many thanks to everybody that is participating in this dialogue. I agree the Mass needs to evolve, and sorry I missed out on my chance to participate in the potluck discussion.

    I'm curious: how did the potluck turn out? Was there progress of any kind?


  • At 9:46 am, August 25, 2009, Anonymous Eric said…

    My two main hopes for the August CM:

    1. Moving cyclists are traffic, people stopped in the middle of a bridge holding their bikes aloft aren't. When the ride heads onto a bridge, it shouldn't stop. Especially on the Gate. I'm not sure how the DNV and West Van police forces will cooperate with the ride -- whoever talks to the Vancouver police should contact them as well.

    2. We have to respect pedestrians' rights to cross the ride path on their light. Cork the cars, not the people. This segments the ride, but allows the laggards to catch up, so it's not a big loss.

    3. At its best, CM is a civil protest against automobile dependency and a celebration of human-powered transport. I used to see this, but not during the June and July '09 rides.

    If others here agree, how do we get the word out to the other 1990 riders this Friday?

  • At 1:08 am, August 27, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just a reminder that CM is postponed to Saturday (due to the recent issues, mainly the amount of traffic on a Friday during rush hour). We try to spread the word with pamphlets but just adding the reminder here.
    Saturday August 30th, same place, same time. Hope to see you there!!

  • At 1:38 am, September 21, 2009, Blogger James Griffiths said…


    I collected the notes from this dialogue session - at least the notes that were handed in to the event facilitators - and I've scanned them and posted them here:

    (pardon the ads, I chose this host site because the link apparently doesn't expire)

    These notes do not provide a comprehensive or concise account of the dialogue, but they may be useful for folks that were not in attendance (including myself :-)

    - James.

  • At 2:59 am, September 25, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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

    Why do *you* decide how the roads get used? Who are *you* to decide that?

    "affirm our rights to ride" - no one's saying don't ride. Just don't block people who aren't part of your group.

  • At 9:20 am, November 09, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have just moved here and I can understand the motivations for the CM rides but as someone who lives and works downtown I also see a blatant disregard for pedestrians by a growing number of cyclists. I regularly witness cyclists speeding down sidewalks, veering onto the street and back onto the sidewalk, and 3 days ago a cyclist clipped me while I was crossing a clearly marked cross walk. There was no attempt to slow down, which cars will at least do. As I began with, I understand the motivations but something is getting lost in the execution.

  • At 11:48 pm, November 29, 2009, Anonymous Joel said…

    Question: Are ebikes (particularly ebikes that look like scooters, but can be pedalled) welcome at CMs? It is, after all, one less car. But I am intimidated about potential verbal abuse from other CMers.

  • At 2:51 am, February 05, 2010, Blogger VanCM Blogger said…

    Cyclists SHOULD be respectful of pedestrians, please encourage cyclists about this at CM, everybody. Sometimes cyclists are ignorant of this issue and it needs more info when we finally get a proper website.

    Regarding moped looking ebikes. Some cyclists are pretty scared of motorcycles and motorscooters - and with good reason - they can be dangerous to them. An electric motorbike if it is big could be dangerous to other cyclists. Please only ride your ebike to CM if you are sure it is a reasonable size and well controlled. Yes, there are dangerous pedal bikes too, but there is something more intimidating about having a motor behind it. I don't think there would be verbal abuse if your ebike is reasonable. I dislike gas moped due to the fumes, that is not welcome. Critical Mass welcomes all cyclists, electric assist cycling is valid. Cheers.


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