Vancouver Critical Mass Bike Ride

critical mass

Critical Mass is a fun bike ride that lets everyone cycle parts of the city that are normally overrun with cars. Costumes are encouraged in our monthly bike parade!

Vancouver details:
Meet at the North end of the Art Gallery.
On the last Friday of every month.
Announcements at 6 PM, we ride at 6:15.

Critical Mass uses ad hoc organization through the ride. Every cyclists looks out for each other. It's important for safety that all the bicyclists stay together in one large group. Safety in numbers.

Stop and "cork" open intersections to cars. This is a very rewarding experience and a good opportunity to see the beautiful parade go by. After corking you'll be at the back of the ride, and can play the peloton game of racing to the front.

People at the front need to choose the route in real-time and shouldn't get too far ahead. The group will stop after the top of bridges or big hills and let everyone catch up. If the mass is big it should stay on larger streets so we have more lanes and can ride together.

critical mass

Critical Mass is many things to its many participants. Partly it is a non-violent protest for bicycle rights. A gathering for the thousands of cyclists in the city. We deserve more of the road and Critical Mass is our proof. These are our streets and we want to ride our bikes on them.

First and foremost it is a celebration of Vancouver and bicycling! Everyone is welcome to ride. Have fun and be nice to people along the parade route!

More...
Join the
Velolove Announcement mailing list to get reminders about Critical Mass!

Join the Velolove Discussion list to talk with other local cyclists.

Check the CycleMass Vancouver Blog for more local cycling events.

Posted by dustin on January 26, 2009 with category tags of

46 comments
Video of the June 2007 ride:
   comment by dustin (#1) on April 20, 2009

Here's a cool video showing critical mass coming back off of the Lion's Gate Bridge:


Critical Mass never crosses the Lion's Gate into North Van. When it heads for this bridge it will go up to the middle, and then turn around and come back through Stanley Park drive. Fun!
   comment by dustin (#1) on April 27, 2009

Wow... That is amazing! A lot of bikes! Very nice!
   comment by Zim on April 28, 2009

I like to call it the "TOUR de NUTBAR".
   comment by POP3 on June 26, 2009

All very well if they'd only obey the TRAFFIC LIGHTS like everyone else does. There's no benefit encouraging road rage.
   comment by anonymous on June 26, 2009

Being respectful is the way to go.


   comment by anonymous on June 27, 2009

I got caught in the "critical mass" trying to drive my friend home with our two hot sweating dogs in the car on pacific and all was going well with cyclists riding by and us. We were cheering and giving thumbs up for about half a mile until one individual decided to block our car in the on -coming lane and becoming aggressive, egging others on to become confrontational and turn a great thing- that I do support and am a bike rider myself - into an ugly, ignorant attempt to grab 15 minutes of fame and encourage others to really poison the positive and free spirited nature of the whole event. I am deeply saddened by the acts of a few to intimidate me, my friend our two dogs and an elderly couple who lived one block from their destination who did not know about the planned ride and was innocently tring to get home.
My car was bumped by riders with their tires who deliberately got off their bikes and harassed us, not allowing us to back up or move forward while the ride was going in the opposite direction. The ugliness that was displayed by the token few "geniuses" in the group was disgusting. My hood was banged upon and it was quite ironic considering that I have been a supporter of making Vancouver more green and encouraging bike riding in the city. I would say that the majority of riders were wonderful and positive but those few bad apples do more damage than your whole "critical mass" put together. You are losing valuable people that would have fully supported this ride.
Please take note that the people that some of you are out to attack are in fact supporters and perhaps pause, take a breath and enjoy the fresh air you claim to cherish so much.
   comment by wilbur pollock on June 27, 2009

Thanks for nothing you bunch of inconsiderate jerks. I was being responsible by taking transit only to be messed up by the idiots riding their bikes. I'm getting totally fed up of the city allowing this and making special lanes for the cyclists. Especially when I'm walking on the sidewalk and instead of using the bike lane I'm being run over by cyclists on the sidewalk. Grow up and stop ticking the rest of us off!!
   comment by laura on June 28, 2009

You say this is a form of non-violent protest? Please explain that to me when some the most basic rules of the road are not being followed i.e. stopping at stop signs and road lights are things that were implemented to protect everyone on the road. Additionally not allowing pedestrians to cross the road when it is their right of way just shows childish your behavior is behavior and will not win you any respect.
   comment by anonymous on June 29, 2009

I think these bike rides are a great idea. Vancouver could definitely benefit from the message. We need more cycling lanes. It's time to get people out their cars and onto their bicycles. We need to stop encouraging the culture around SUV's and suburban living. I see people complaining about being inconvenienced because they wanted to get home, but this seems like a small and selfish complaint when compared to the real issue of global warming. I would encourage people who do not commute by bicycle to give it a try. I used to be frustrated and inside my car as well, now I'm a happy cyclist. Cycling give me exercise, saves money on gas and parking, and helps to save the environment. I've found my bicycle commute to be one of the best parts of my day. I now look at people who cycle to work as heroes. It's a shame to read comments from people who would bash someone for cycling. Instead we should be critical of peolple who drive around in giant Hummers for no reason other than to look cool. We need to have a much larger percentage of people cycle commuting. One of the main probelms in our society is the car culture, and the status associated with the automoblie. We need to fundamentally change the way we think about , and use our cars. Government needs to paly a role in encouraging the use of bicycles by providing easy and safe cycling lanes and providing tax breaks on bicycle purchases. If you don't commute by bicycle, I would urge you to give it a try. It's more than likely that you'll love it.
   comment by A on July 9, 2009

Saw the police comments of the news tonight. I would participate if I lived in Vancouver but I hope their comments, "problem with the amount of drinking cyclists" is an overstatement. I understand every group activity will have a negative few but would like to know that the problem was overblown
   comment by L. Styan on July 29, 2009

Cyclists should obey the damn traffic lights! I ride a bike to work everyday, and drive when I have to go somewhere distant. I know how to do both, but these people at Critical Mass are just a bunch of hooligans. I've seen too much confrontational bullshit from riders during these events. They need to stop at lights, not block them, and wait their turn like everyone else! If they did this, then maybe people would respect the event. Enough said.
   comment by Vancouver Resident on July 30, 2009

All you guys do is enrage people. Half the people you stop don't even know who you are or why you are doing what you do. I agree with your cause. I don't drive and I never have. The goal is to enlighten and educate people. What you are doing is not going to solve any problems - you just make it worse. Do any of you use the bathroom, or electricity ? If so, you are part of the problem as well. Do I go to your house and keep you from using your toilet ? Are you without sin ? What gives you the right. We shouldn't be driving cars, I agree, but the means by which you try to get your point across is ridiculous. You have made me wait before when I had something very, very important to do. Someone is gonna get hurt and/or sued one of these days. You guys are idiots. Find a more positive, constructive and smarter way to get your point across. A non-driver that thinks you guys are power - tripping and who thinks you are a joke. What makes you above anyone else? Organize, educate - don't just block traffic and think you're cool when you're not. Is what you are doing actually accomplishing anything?
   comment by anonymous on July 30, 2009

How many bike lanes do you want to stop this stupidness?
   comment by Vancouver Resident on July 30, 2009

Critical mass? More like "Hypocritical asses"

Do you guys realize how much carbon is emitted by the cars of people just wanting to go home to their loved ones on a Friday after a hard day of work, something most of you look like you don't do!!

F. U All!!!
   comment by 0$financing on July 30, 2009

Ouch some of these words are pretty nasty. It is all good fun here and there. We all as a community need to allow everyone their different days to express what ever believe, life choice and thought they may have. I will add though if living in Vancouver or simply closer to their work was affordable, more people COULD walk, bike or use city Transit. BUT for many that simply is not an option. Hence why some are upset that on a Friday they will not be able to get home and traffic will be very upsetting. Like to add murder rate goes up when it's hot. Temper temper. What about scooters, motor bikes ( there are battery and yes even electric/gas hy too) for those who live in great distance? Making safer lanes for people on bicycles, motor mikes and scooters would be helpful for all of us to enjoy the city? Not take a day to close roads basically down to have them available for bicycles just one day.
   comment by laura on July 31, 2009

This may have seemed like a good idea, when it was small and at appropriate times, but now it is a disaster. Blocking bridges and major roads at rush hour on a long weekend??? NOT ALLOWING PEDESTRIANS TO CROSS THE ROAD? Not allowing transit to use the road? ?? Being rude and yelling at pedestrians and cars?? With a pro cyclist city council??

How is this good for the environment or anyone, it is childishness and arrogance and not respectful of people.

All this will do is increase the backlash towards cycling initiatives across the city. Get a permit, negotiate times with the city planners and police.

   comment by k on July 31, 2009

All you guys are doing is making motorist more pissed off at cyclists than they already are. All I can say is you better stay out of my way ! My 4x4 loves to run over a$$hole bikers :)
   comment by Mike on July 31, 2009

To describe this event as "all good fun" is to be willfully ignorant of the ramifications of these cyclists' actions, even though several of those ramifications have been described here. These descriptions include a comment from an otherwise supporter of the movement, which proves that not only is Critical Mass further alienating their perceived "opponents", they're also alienating erstwhile allies.

The whole thing is socially irresponsible, immature, and unacceptable. Random acts of militance are not how things get done.
   comment by EJ on July 31, 2009

I am a daily bicycle commuter who has several times been made late by a critical mass ride getting in the way of my route. Fuck the rest of you; I am already my own critical mass.
   comment by Sascha on July 31, 2009

life's hard. so hard. stay upper classy vancouver ;)
   comment by gordo on July 31, 2009

I am a bus rider. I don't have a car so I guess I am more carbon-free than most of the bike riders. I wanna get home on time after a full week of work. Yet now I've got to wait stupidly in an unairconditioned bus and get baked at the rush hour. Why can't biker riders be a little bit more considerate and take their ride somewhere else AND at some other hour?
   comment by P.O. on July 31, 2009

Critical Mess

negatives:

- blocking pedestrians
- blocking cars
- blocking other cyclist that have no part in CM
- blocking major arteries in and out of the downtown core.
- blocking bridges
- disobeying traffic laws
- riding on oncoming lanes
- not stopping at red lights
- danger to themselves and motorist trying to avoid them.
- damage to property (vehicles)
- uncivil and hostile towards motorist
- uncivil and hostile towards pedestrians
- causing more pollution by causing a mass of gridlock cars to idle.
- lack of consideration and blatant disregard to the well-being others
a. people with important appointments
b. people who have better things to do than be stuck on the road an extra 2 hours
c. people with emergencies who need to be somewhere
d. people without A/C in their cars suffer
e. people in a packed bus suffer (especially the ones that have to stand for 2 hours inside a sweaty hole)
f. people who car pool (ME) with a full car load who lives quite far for cycling or even transit to be a viable option.
g. people who have no choice but to drive to work because they dont feel like feeling like a sweaty mess in their suit when they get to work


POSITIVES:
-bike lanes(for the fraction of a percent of commuters that would use it)
-less cars and traffic as a result?(there will be more traffic due to bike lanes constricting major arterial flows of traffic for vehicles)
-environment


Well folks, the negatives grossly outweigh the positives.
   comment by andrew on July 31, 2009

Glad to hear most of the comments come from sensible people, who can see that this "demonstration" is childish and unproductive. The supportive comment "all good fun" shows a selfish toddler-like mentality where nobody but ME matters.

This "me first and only me" attitude is summed up very nicely by this website's own writing: "These are our streets and we want to ride our bikes on them." Does this sentence sound childish and petulant? Why, yes it does.

To all cycling "toddlers": You can't always get what you want. And you HAVE to share. Play nice!
   comment by chella on August 1, 2009

I don't live in Vancouver, so I don't really care. But I think you guys complaining about critical mass on a cost-benefit ratio are missing the point.

From what I understand, critical mass is like a one-day strike. Of course, it messes up car traffic and causes delays and frustration for some. That's the point. First, it shows that if all bike riders got co-ordinated, they can mess things up pretty bad for motorists. It shifts the balance of power. Normally, people take it for granted that cars are more numerous, faster, bigger, more dangerous, etc. than bikes, so everyone just assumes that public policy should favour cars. This is one way to remind people that bikers are politically powerful in their own way.

Second, I think that Critical Mass proves a pretty important point: what a disproportionate amount of space cars take up. Pretty much everything else in the city has to get out of the way in order for cars to flow. Even a small, infrequent, temporary use of roads by something else (e.g., a bike parade) causes car chaos (and motorists angrily writing letters on blogs). It shows how inefficient it is to spend so much of the transportation budget on motor vehicle circulation. Reverse the situation: if most people were on bikes, a car parade around town every once in a while would have almost no impact on anyone.
   comment by anonymous on August 1, 2009

I used to respect bike riders. After these idiot rides that do nothing but endanger everyone and seeing so much space taken up for EMPTY bike lanes, I consider bike riders a nuisance.
   comment by canam on August 1, 2009

I'm a pedestrian/cyclist, but I am becoming anti cyclist because of the arrogance of so many cyclists who disregard my right to a safe space, i.e. the sidewalk. Cyclists may be kind to the environment, but they are rude and inconsiderate of fellow human beings. You would get more support from the general public if you promoted good manners, and adherence to the traffic bylaws rather then flouting them.
   comment by jane on August 1, 2009

I find it amazing the amount of people that have had their cages rattled by the July 31st CM. Where were you for the last 4 or 5 years ? Just because the Vancouver Sun posted a deliberately confrontational editorial you are all up in arms. I'd be more than happy to ride within the law when the auto drivers start doing the same !
   comment by jonqpube on August 6, 2009

because unlike a few years ago, this years critical mess lost the spirit of why it began in the first place.
   comment by andrew on August 10, 2009

bikes rule/cars suck
   comment by roberto on August 29, 2009

It's getting ridiculous and it's only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt or killed. You want to protest then do it in the bike lanes. The increase in pollution that you create by forcing vehicles to sit idling until, in your infantile minds, you decide to let them go, is disturbing.

The number of cyclists I see daily, ignoring the rules of the road, is pathetic. You want it all but are not displaying the remotest respect for anyone but yourselves. People will only take this for so long.

Personally I think the Police should ticket everyone in your group that disobeys the rules of the road then maybe you'll smarten up and grow up.
   comment by anonymous on September 1, 2009

Hello,
My name is Stan Ross and our company is Jenelco Products Limited. We manufacture Rain Wear here in Surrey, B.C.

I heard on the CBC radio a fellow named Steve and he was saying rain or shine, he rides. We are looking for riders who ride in the rain and we want to help promote more bike riding in the city.

We would like to offer Steve a new product we manufacture- Bike Helmet Rain Cover and a detachable Rain Cape which keeps the riders' neck dry. For more info, get back to me.
Thanks- Stan Ross
   comment by Stan Ross on February 27, 2010

Please Critical Mass, find better ways how to promote cycling. This event is not helping anyone unless you just enjoy making people angry. I am a vivid cyclist myself but I try to obey the traffic rules. You break all of them in one day. Take a trip in some countries in Europe and you may appreciate Vancouver's wide road shoulders and bike lanes much more.
   comment by Lea on March 20, 2010

You guys are really harming your own cause. You are fostering tension and animosity.

I know many drivers who now HATE cyclists because of critical mass. All critical mass does is make drivers hate you more. How can you enrage drivers and then the next day complain about drivers not respecting you? What goes around comes around.

My other problem is how CM inconveniences pedestrians. I have seen many pedestrians who can't get around because they can't cross the road due to CM. My mother has been late getting to the hospital because as a pedestrian she couldn't cross Nelson because of CM. How is punishing pedestrians helping your cause?

And the way you laugh and cheer in the face of angry drivers, only goads them into hating you more. And you showed no gratitute after being given lanes on the Burrard Bridge AND Dunsmuir. You are only creating tension and animosity and one day it will lead to a physical dispute.
   comment by Alan on June 26, 2010

I hate how you elitist douchebags think you can take over the city. You know how many people were inconvenienced and had to drive TWICE THE DISTANCE to get where they were going from North Van? Lots of people really pissed off at your "cause"...you have failed in the eyes of many, you're not welcome back. FUCK CRITICAL MASS - I WILL PERSONALLY DESTROY ANY OF YOU WHO ATTEMPT TO INTIMIDATE ME WITH YOUR LITTLE HIPSTER BIKES.
   comment by Steve C on June 28, 2010

I'm not sure how you can call someone both a douchebag and elitist. Douchebags don't rank high on any class scale. If anything, you're being elitist by designating yourself as higher-ranking than a douchebag.
   comment by anonymous on June 28, 2010

I just got home from a 2 hour commute, four cars behind the "critical mass". While I've been a long time supporter of bike to work and creating more bike lanes, I don't think that is what this is about anymore. In fact I think the organizers should rethink their approach from one of mischief and disruption to more constructive awareness.... all this is doing is creating hatred and greater disrespect for the cycling community. In fact, many of the "critical mass" riders are not riders at all....they could barely make it up the causeway!

Because of their arrogance and disrespect for others, my family missed our ferry, and had to cancel our reservations for the weekend. I missed dinner, but got home just in time to tell my 5 yr old the bad news, and answer his question of "why those bikers did that to us?"...."will they go to jail?"

Sorry fellow two wheelers....

   comment by ...you lost my support. on July 30, 2010

The problem with this movement is it is not clear what it is about. You say that it means different things to different people, so what is it about? Pollution? No not really it is ironic that you are using bikes to cause more. Community pride? No one wants to live in a community where the rules that the civilians made are purposely broken to make a mystery point. Global warming? If this is your issue why isn't it clear on your website? Explain how more bike lanes will help. How do people know more bus lanes or street cars isn't the answer? Why do you think getting people mad is a good way to get them to think? If you knew your social psychology you'd know that making people upset while trying to make your point only causes people to stick more firmly to there currently held beliefs.
   comment by how is this the best way to get your message across? on July 31, 2010

I live in Phoenix, and the rules are all made to favor of the pollution. Most drivers ignore the bike lanes and feel free to park in them. Police do nothing about it! And the cars are constantly blocking crosswalk so when bus riders have to switch busses, they often miss the connection because they can't cross.

It is a two way street, and as long as there are stupid people out there, nothing will work for anyone!
   comment by John Bowling on August 9, 2010

density=duncity
   comment by anonymous on December 12, 2010

well i am iam a road bike builder and collector ( private ) cycling is a big part of my life i recently moved to vancouver and has i was riding today i could here these loud noise sounded like a bunch of hooligan creating noise pollution now i dont want to sound like a conservative cheap dude has i enjoy pixies and black flag but this look like a gong show its a embarrassment for our sport and culture , now reading the top review its exactly what i expected this should be banned ,, just be real and respect i am not supporting this at all its a shame .
   comment by marc jeremi on March 26, 2011

Wow I had to stop reading the comments there are so many hateful people out there. To everyone who is complaining that they had to idle their cars and it's bad for the environment, DID IT NOT OCCUR TO YOU TO TURN OFF YOUR CARS? That must never occur to people who always use them.

Talk about being childish, and if people think that no one uses the bike lanes, then that just proves that many car drivers don't even notice bicyclists.
   comment by Melissa on April 19, 2011

Serious comment. It strikes me that many of the cyclists on Vancouver roads carry a chip on their shoulder against motorists and much of the Critical Mass is vengeance spirited. It seems counter productive to promote your cause by doing everything in your power to aggravate everyone not in the ride. I do both, biking and driving, and I'm aware what jerks some (OK, many) Vancouver drivers are. I've biked around this city at all hours and believe it or not these types of people are worse towards other cars/motorcycles. If your long term goal is to engender support for biking in Van, respect traffic rules and drivers. If it isn't, you're doing a great job.
   comment by Guess on July 1, 2011

Truly a bunch of idiots, not far removed from the mob mentality that resulted in the Stanley Cup riot. Respect the rules of the road - stop at lights and wear your helmets. I can't wait for the day when a group of drivers get together to reclaim the roads by driving all over your precious bike lanes. How would you feel about that? I really don't get the point of critical mass - they are plenty of bike lanes with more being built, and it is not because of your efforts, but despite them.

Do you hooligans realize that roads wouldn't exist were it not for cars? Who do you think pays for road improvements? I'll give you a hint - it's not you cheapskate cyclists mooching off others.

The funny thing is, as bitter as I sound, I am all for bike lanes. But you idiots really piss me off.
   comment by Bon on September 10, 2011

1 bike replacing 1 car = 4 tons CO2 per annum exported to be released in USA or China.
   comment by Lee L on September 22, 2011

Critical Mess I like to call it.
The folks taking part, and organizing, such an event should be aware that they are violating the law. I will site that they are breaking City bylaw 2849 subsection 67 “Use of a street for sport or entertainment.”
Not only that, most don't wear helmets or stop at traffic control devices.
If City council didn't have such an Agenda... they could make a killing...
Oh wait, it's been cited that over 90% of these fines go unpaid!!

http://bc.ctvnews.ca/vancouver-cyclists-sitting-on-11-000-unpaid-helmet-tickets-1.1321974

For instances such as being stopped by bikers while on the Lions Gate Bridge (I too have been caught in this situation), I would argue that participants and the City could be held liable for damages:
1. Assault
2. False Imprisonment
   comment by Mike on February 20, 2014

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