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.
Vancouver Transit Camp is an open-invitation unconference about transportation being held on December 8th. The BC government has shown an appalling lack of wisdom in handling transportation planning. I'm hopeful that the geeks of Vancouver can start improving things despite them. Check the website for some funky transit inspired designs, sign-up info, and more.
This video does a great job of showing how bike lanes that share roadspace with car traffic on busy streets suck. It's entitled The Case for Separated Bike Lanes and was created by StreetFilms, an NYC group dedicated to making their urban spaces more livable.
Vancouver could use this advice in a number of places. I was biking in the shared bike lanes along Pender and Richards coming home today, and in both cases it was an exercise in avoiding the buses that are making stops along those same streets. It's dangerous and not very fun. Bring on the separated lanes!
I went out to Vancouver'sCritical Mass yesterday. 200 cyclists riding together in a fun filled, human fueled, car displacing celebration of bicycles. It was really fabulous. It was the first time I had gone to such an event, but I am definitely going to be attending regularly from now on. People said that once the summer gets going turnout can increase to 1000+ people!
Cycling is such an awesome way to get around the city. Get your exercise, help the environment, see the sights up close, and it's very cost effective. I find operating my human powered vehicle liberating. Cars will always have their place (long trips, etc), but bikes are so much more fitting for an inter-city commute. I find it pretty sad seeing all the cars with only 1 person in them sitting in traffic. Go get a bike!
Also, at the (very fun) party afterwards somebody brought their drum and we jammed on it for a little while. Just the two of us banging on her little drum outside while some spectators enjoyed it. Very nice. I think I'm going to get myself a drum out here. Then see if I can join a drum circle of some sort, or perhaps try and help incubate a Vancouver version of the Tam Tams.
I've been living in Vancouver for about 2 weeks now. I completed my primary short term goals handily and have been working on the January ones. Telus is the old-school phone company in western Canada, and they have a store right near where I'm staying, so I got a cellphone with them. Give me a call if you want at 778-899-3040 (remember the time difference though, it's pacific time here: EST - 3 hours). I bought a (somewhat) cheap used bike, and it's taught me the importance of having a cover over the back wheel. My bike doesn't have one, which means I get a nice line of gunk on my back whenever I ride over wet or gravelly terrain. Which brings us to the topic of wetness...
This month Vancouver was challenging an old record of theirs; the most days in a row with rain. The record is 29 consecutive days, and it was looking like 2006 would break it. At 26 days we fell short though (un?)fortunately. Still, 26 days in a row of rain is a lot. I missed the first 2 weeks of it, but just because there was 1 day without any rain doesn't mean it stopped. It continues to rain more days then not. The conclusion is that Vancouver doesn't have the most fun filled weather in January. It's still better then Montreal, right? I say yes. The temperature is much warmer here (although I have still donned my hat a couple of times). Still, I'm hoping that the weather improves in the next couple of months. I've been watching some of the Australian Open tennis tournament on TV, and the thought of heading out to see it in Melbourne next January has crossed my mind.
I've been exploring on my bike at every opportunity and it's been great. Vancouver has a ton of waterfront, which provides nice for pleasant bikery. The bike paths around False Creek and Stanley Park are both lovely. Downtown Vancouver is very bike friendly and I've been riding around getting to know the street layout and where some of the happening blocks are. There's still a lot of ground I haven't seen at all yet though. I've been focusing on the downtown, and there are lots of surrounding areas that are still totally unknown to me. Commercial Drive is next on my hit list. Even if I don't end up staying here permanently I think it's an excellent experience to live here for a while and get to know Canada's big western city. I bought myself a nice waterproof MEC jacket (hurray for the cheapness of the Salvation Army Thrift Store near where I'm staying), so I can still venture out when it's raining (or threatening to). I'm thinking about getting some waterproof pants though. Then I would be invincible!
Work on American History Lux is moving along. It's 90+% finished, which means the only things remaining are all the really uninteresting stuff that I've left to the very end (i.e. those $!#%ing bugs that only occur on Windows). I don't have internet access where I'm living, which is both good and bad for my productivity. There's a Starbucks nearby (and every couple blocks after that) that I bring my laptop to for my online fixings. They charge way more for net access then they should (it's a partnership with Bell). Lucky for them I'm desperate.
I've also been spending a lot of time reading, which is always nice. Sometimes I go through droughts without reading anything for a long time, but once I get my literary groove on I am a maniac. I've read 5 novels (plus a picture book of Vancouver) since I've been here. A supply of good cheap books seems to be the spark that sets me going (hurray again for the Salvation Army). I checked out the main public library branch yesterday and it's awesomely huge. I'm going to try and get a membership post-haste. Last year I said I was going to document all the books that I read for fun and informative purposes. I maintained it for about half the year but then I lost track. I'm going to try again this year, but in a simpler way; just keeping a list of "author - title" with little to no commentary.
The past few days I've started searching for a place to live. Before I came here I found myself a sublet for the month of January in Kits, right near the Burrard bridge, within easy striking distance of the downtown. There are tons of listings on craigslist vancouver, which I have been using. This is where the dirt cheap Montreal cost-of-living really becomes apparent. It's looks as though I will end up living in a place smaller then Summerhill and paying more money for it. Unless I happen to get lucky, but I'm on a pretty short deadline. The last time I was apartment hunting it was driving around Montreal with Nikki. Oh the memories...