Apparently, the critical mass bike ride concept has been around for some years, but only last month did I hear about it for the first time. It’s a simple, no frills gathering of bike lovers who take to the big city streets in an effort to assert their right to the road. It typically occurs every last Friday of the month. No one officially leads those rides and that’s part of the beauty of the event. Some people take the opportunity to dress up their bikes (or themselves) for the occasion. On the road, “corkers” — volunteer road blockers — block side streets when needed to ensure that the steady flow of bikers does not get stopped by passing motorists. The police (on bicycle) also rides alongside the group to keep a close eye on potential problems.
From what I saw today, motorists are not necessarily fond of “CM’ers”… Sure, there were a few cheerful honks from passing cars also, but they mostly came from the ones going in the opposite direction, unencumbered by the mass. “CM’ers” often use the catch phrase “We’re not blocking traffic, we ARE traffic!” to justify their activity. But when one sees the group come to a complete stop on both Burrard and Lions Gate bridges, for no apparent reason, one cannot help but wonder if some people are not taking this a little too far. Well, I wasn’t at the front of the pack; maybe there was a reason to justify the pauses, I don’t know… Let me know if you do know what caused those halts. ;)
Overall, it was a fun, casual ride along some popular streets. One CM’er had brought his portable stereo which added some ambiance to the ride. The different outfits some people — and bikes — had was fun too. I left too early to see how the after-ride party went (at The ANZA Club — people went there by bike also, of course). Somehow I believe it was a blast. Maybe next time. ;)