Jul 31 2009

Critical Mass Is Coming. Prepare to Get Corked

The cops in Vancouver have surrendered the streets to Critical Mass.

“Police took the unusual step this week of warning motorists away from the city’s downtown core Friday in an effort to ease tensions generated by a planned “Critical Mass” bike ride”, reports the Vancouver Sun. “Police say the ride has grown so large they have given up trying to rein in participants, even those breaking rules, such as riding without a helmet or blocking traffic.”

This is insanity.

Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy cycling. Last night, I rode my bike along the Vancouver seawall for an hour and a half, just for kicks. It was fun, and probably necessary for my health, to compensate for sitting down at my desk for eight hours at work.

As for the people who take part, I can count quite a few of my friends amongst the Critical Mass contingent. They have a great time. Families take their kids to this thing. Riding around the most beautiful city in Canada amongst thousands of fellow enthusiasts sounds positively energizing. Nothing to argue about there.

But what I don’t like is Critical Mass’ hypocrisy. Their slogan, “we are traffic”, is simply false. Ordinary traffic stops at stop signs and red lights. Traffic doesn’t block other traffic in all four directions for up to an hour while their cohort makes its way along arterial transportation connectors like the entrance to the Lions Gate Bridge.

Corking” is the opposite of traffic. In my language, we call it a roadblock.

The double-think is especially odd, since some of the statements on what appears to be the local Critical Mass blog are so darn positive about keeping relations with drivers on an even keel: “This is not an us vs car drivers ride. Those stuck in car traffic are our friends and we need to be polite and respectful of them as we increase the traffic by putting more people on the roads.”

It’s all the more disappointing because Critical Mass reportedly has an agenda I’d love to be able to get behind: promoting sustainable transportation, healthy habits, affordable urban living and protection of the environment. Fantastic stuff. But the day I got corked, I lost all sympathy for this movement.

When they quit causing traffic jams and instigating road rage, I’ll be happy to ride with Critical Mass. Until then, I’m perfectly happy to hop on my bike and ride alone.

BLOG AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’m not the only one with these sentiments, although Critical Mass has some forceful defenders. A huge debate erupted in comments section of my earlier post, Critical Mass Sucks. Some highlights:

Royce: This isn’t about bullying or intimidation, it’s about raising awareness and ultimately reclaiming collective communal space. Even Gregor Robertson, Fred Bass and Andrea Reimer have come slong for the ride.

Peter: Critical Mass is stupid and nonconstructive. I care about the environment far more than the average person, but I fail to see how angering the vast majority of motorists and causing additional pollution due to traffic jams will “spread the message” or get people to ride bikes… Also, if cyclists feel they have the right to damage people’s cars with their bikes, then they can get run over for all I care, and there would be no sympathy from most of us.

Marc: I got out of my car and made it a point to personally flip off every biker that passed me while yelling at them and calling them any foul name I could think of. Of course, not one of the pansy stopped to engage me. Good thing, because with my wife literally CRYING in the car because she is so uncomfortable I would have not stopped until biker blood was spilled.

Mei: Maybe this is already mentioned… but for you self-righteous “protectors of the environment”… have you thought for even a nano-second how MUCH MORE EMISSIONS YOU ARE CAUSING BY BLOCKING TRAFFIC AND HAVING CARS IDLING????

Maurice Cardinal: Critical Mass outlived it’s initial mandate to raise awareness long ago. Hardly anyone pays attention anymore… At the very least combine the street ride with a virtual ride targeting the corporations causing environmental problems. Let them know they are on your radar and that if they don’t start acting responsibly you might one day soon send 3,000 riders or more to have a face to face.

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9 responses so far

9 Responses to “Critical Mass Is Coming. Prepare to Get Corked”

  1. Jameson 31 Jul 2009 at 8:53 am

    This is the beginning of a much greater issue than environmental awareness / bike usage etc ….

    This is the ongoing push to make any protest about any subject in North America appear as though it is run by crazies, extremists and crack pots.

    Civil and social disobedience while not always comfortable is part of active protest – whether it be Critical Mass or the Olympics and so forth.

    Each day protest in this fine city of ours is relegated to being viewed as an inconvenience – it is appalling.

    While I am not a supporter of Critical Mass’ tactics I am sad to see such over the top reactions by those who do not agree with their tactics.

    As the Olympics comes closer the civil liberties of this cities citizens will be handcuffed by “bylaws” passed by municipal government – and we are worried about the inconvenience of city drivers for one afternoon – shame shame shame!

    Talk minus action equals NOTHING!

  2. Maurice Cardinalon 31 Jul 2009 at 9:20 am

    There is a hidden layer regarding Critical Mass most people in Vancouver don’t yet understand.

    Excerpt from my blog;

    “It’s not a coincidence Vancouver’s mayor, Gregor Robertson and law enforcement are now concerned about the effect Critical Mass is having on the city. They pretend they are primarily concerned for citizens clashing with unruly bikers, but what they don’t say, and neither does local media, is that they are more concerned with the Olympics than what is currently happening in the summer of 2009.

    Flash Mobs are the new protest tool, and Vancouver does it well. Just imagine what will happen this February when the Olympics hit town and Flash Mobs impede traffic. The potential is great to cause spectators to miss events they paid thousands of dollars to see, or even worse, prevent an athlete from competing.”

    Way back in 2006 I wrote about technological communication respective of the 2010 Olympics in my book, Leverage Olympic Momentum, and I covered Flash Mobs in detail. I have an excerpt from my book on my blog if anyone is interested in seeing why VANOC, law enforcement and local politicians are concerned today.


  3. Rob Con 31 Jul 2009 at 10:49 am

    I think any of these BS demonstrations that inconveniences the public serve to only destroy any support they could possibly have. Fire Hoses would solve this problem

  4. trajancon 31 Jul 2009 at 11:06 am

    Last critical mass these a holes almost got me fired from my job by causing me to be over an hour late for work. Any idea how hard it is to get a job these days?
    I have an idea. I will randomly pick some cause that I am committed to. Convinced of my own moral superiority I will break the law at will and interfere with others lives and livelihood. CM’ers, what do some of you do for a living? Own a bookstore? I love trees! How about I blockade your store just a few hours every month?
    Work on a computer? I think electronic waste is a big hazard! How about I cut off the internet and power for a few hours at your business every month?
    Or I just stop you from getting your kids from daycare for an hour or two. Or delay your trip to the clinic or hospital.
    You have a right to peacefully protest. That’s it. No matter what you imagine you do not have the right to mess with other peoples lives.

  5. Hoarfroston 31 Jul 2009 at 11:28 am

    All this just reinforces my opinion of people who live in the Vancouver/Victoria area. It must be the cloudy weather you usually get that makes you all so depresssing. I travelled there ever 6 weeks for several years. I find the people moody, cranky,argumentative and full of in your face opinions.

  6. Finalisteon 31 Jul 2009 at 2:48 pm

    “Traffic” also doesn’t drive on the SIDEWALK. These folks are tools of the highest magnitude.

  7. Chrison 02 Aug 2009 at 10:16 pm

    It will be interesting to see what happens with the Critical Manners ride on the 14th. If they get the same number of people out that Critical Mass does, it could be chaos even if they do follow the rules. And speaking of rules, I wonder if they’ll ride in single file.

  8. Saskboyon 05 Aug 2009 at 1:30 pm

    All of those opposed to protests that inconvenience the “innocent” are anti-democratic tools who deserve the police state that we’re headed toward. Enjoy things when no one stands up to injustice for you.

  9. jnarveyon 26 Nov 2009 at 2:12 pm

    My apologies: The comment that appeared to be from the mayor’s office was almost certainly a hoax and has been deleted. I’ll have to read my comments more carefully before posting.

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