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September 29, 2011


Bruce H


I whole heartily agree, the ride should be about "Critical Manners". We need to show the car drivers that we all can and do need to "Share the Road"


I appreciate your effort here, but as a committed bicycle commuter and "advocate", I feel that CM rides (even the nicest ones) might do more harm than good in advancing cycling and cyclists' interests.

That said, who am I, right? Everyone has a right to do stuff like that. I just won't be joining the fun.

Rob (Mk.2)

As Inspector Morse once said "Thanks for the offer, but I don't join things." I often find people in groups objectionable and CM is one of those activities that more often serves to aggravate tensions than build bridges between road users.


Hi Bill,

When was the last time you were at Critical Mass? I can't account for everyone there, but many people I know who attend cycle as their main form of transportation. Sure, sometimes people carry flags for other issues, or hand out fliers for other events, but the main message for the last few years that I've been going has always been cycling.

And the toxicness of events usually comes from bad drivers that try to run the ride over.

When the ride is small it is sometimes possible to let buses through, but with a huge group it is difficult to coordinate letting a bus pass, and also opens up space for other vehicles to try to sneak in, which can be quite dangerous. Having the group stick together is key for safety, hence why most riders advocate for going through red lights.

Hope to see you this afternoon!


Dan Kellar (@dankellar)


peaceful rides around the world and here at home get run over by aggressive drivers ( http://bikingtoronto.com/michaelhollowayblog/2011/03/01/for-the-record-video-of-critical-mass-car-terror-in-brazil/ ), and drivers have tried to run critical mass riders off the road whether it is taking both lanes (which it is allowed to do), or if it squeezes itself into one (or decide to only take one lane due to numbers/safety). here in kdubs in the summer, SUVs side swept critical mass riders, and two years ago a police car drove into the mass.

i have seen the mass allow buses to pass when it is safe to do so, and the mass is always the first to pull to the side of the road when an ambulance or fire blares their sirens in emergencies.

cars have the easy and designed for ability to turn and go on the hundreds of other routes (roads) through the city, and the mass if for nothing else, is a one afternoon-a-month time of slowness - something we need in our lives and in this over-worked (self-destructive) society. location and time should be known by now to all but those with their nose in their knee-pit.

drivers, if they feel the need to sit behind the mass as it takes the same route every month, need to chill out and tune into 100.3fm ( http://soundfm.ca ) during that time as [email protected] radio ( http://peaceculture.org ) dedicates the air time between 17:00-18:30 to energetic bike music so bikers can tune in as they ride, after an hour of critical news and awesome music (starting 16:00).

now, since you seem to be the expert, can you explain what critical mass and where it comes from. what it represents and what it has represented since the first ride in kw was organized a few years ago or about its worldwide history?

as far as i know, the local ride was started by a small group of social justice warriors who are much more dedicated to biking and actually building capacity for safety on the roads, trials and sidewalks for all those who choose not to (or can not afford to) drive, then any politician and most "biking advocates" or your so-called "real" cyclists.

people go to the mass for whatever reason they want, biking is the uniting factor, and most riders tend also to unite around a truer sense of justice then most people in this culture. so in terms of people getting their own parade as Bill Bean asks people to do, they did, and it is called critical mass.

i have seen pirate flags, two row banners, ulster red hand and metallica flags, anti-civilisation and "save the moraine" banners, pro biking signs, and anti-police flags. the mass is not about "sharing the road" with dangerous and future diminishing gas burning vehicles, it is not about any one single issue -- and it is not your place to say what it is and what it isn't as you have not been an active participant for some time. critical mass is about whatever the riders want it to be about.

"fun" or "toxic". it is self-organised by participants, you want something new, then come out to the mass today and call for people to circle up and have a discussion, or make some flyers and talk to people along the ride. just as the mass itself needed the jump start of a few to get going in the first place, changes do not happen without a catalyst - unless concrete suggestions are brought forward in a respectful manner, and active participation is committed to, nothing will ever change.

as most people will quickly admit, people are safer when they band together, when they present a common line of defence which will be self-organized and work to create a safer space. it follows then, that we will be safer when we have common front against cars which take too many lives each year in waterloo region, most recently that of Tyrone Welbanks, who will likely be remembered today, just as Tiberiu Alexandru David was honoured one year ago (http://www.therecord.com/news/article/289332--critical-mass-in-waterloo-spends-moment-commemorating-deaths-of-fellow-cyclists).

your writing is lacking adequacy and your ad hominem attacks are best left for facebook. it is ignorant to put those who fight for indigenous rights and against the dishonourable behaviour of the settler canadian state, or against the absurdity and injustice which is the G20 austerity agenda with those who have sadly been left by our society to the fiction that manifests itself in scientology (i am not dissin' LRH, he was a great sci-fi writer) - those who profit off of deceit and oppression are scum.

i have not seen loons at the critical mass (ducks and geese are in waterloo park where the carnival starts usually at 16:30...), however, i have seen privileged older folks who think they represent all that is good and right in biking while ignoring how other people feel or what other people have experienced in their travels on the roads in this region, or around the world. these same older people only show up a few times (or once) and rarely help promote the event in town - they are the folks who want the bread but dont want to do the work to make it delicious.

in kdubs we need segregated bike lanes, reduced car traffic (through road transformations/closures and actually building alternatives to car culture), and among many other things, we need drivers to acknowledge the risks involved with biking, and to give bikes more space all of the time - bikers all to often have to risk their lives, for a driver, it is only their time.

i hope lots of folks come out and enjoy the ride today, chat with their fellow bike riders and find out what fuels them and what brings them to critical mass and why they are taking to the streets on wheels.

whose streets, our streets!

-dan kellar


Critical Mass is dumb.

As a guy who rides a bike I don't need or want any group to claim to speak for me and my interest as a guy who rides a bike.

Is there even a real point to it anymore? If you want to claim your "right" to the streets you can go out and do so at any time.

Rarely does it engender any sympathy from motorists, so if people say they're trying to raise awareness of bikes, I feel that going out and pissing off a bunch of motorists isn't really helping the cause.

More and more though it seems one can't even hop on a bike anymore without it being a media event and a chance to gloat about how we're all so awesome for riding bikes.

The rides can sometimes be fun but it does seem self-aggrandizing for the most part and that's not really my cup of tea.

Rob (Mk.2)


We cyclists have to realize that we have to share public space with others who do not necessarily share your laudable sense of justice. Furthering the 'us' versus 'them' mentality is simply not going to result in meaningful change on the streets. In fact, it may do a great deal of harm.

There is also plenty of blame on the cyclist side of the equation which your post seems to neglect. I am truly sorry that young Tyrone lost his life but unfortunately disobeying basic traffic laws, running about at night with no lights or reflectors and having no brakes is simply asking for trouble. He was struck by a car but what if he had run down and busted the hip of an elderly pedestrian? My grandfather was struck a number of years ago by a cyclist who had difficulty with the concept of sharing a sidewalk. Frankly I find the self-righteousness of CM and related events a little hard to stomach.

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Bill Bean

  • North America is eventually going to figure out that, for all the right reasons, we need more bicycles on our roads. Dust off your bicycle and go cycling. And if the gas-burning dinosaurs start to crowd you, it's your road and you paid for it. Take the lane for yourself.

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