Police worry that heat and crowds could make for tense Critical Mass

If you bus or drive, consider leaving work early on Friday and avoid the bridges, Vancouver Police said on Wednesday.

 

If you bus or drive, consider leaving work early on Friday and avoid the bridges, Vancouver Police said on Wednesday.

 

Between 1,500 and 3,000 cyclists will be taking over the downtown streets at rush hour for Critical Mass, a community ride held at rush hour once a month to promote bike culture.

 

Insp. Rick McKenna said the event, which is expected to be especially large, has led to conflicts — even fights — between cyclists and drivers in the past, and are worried the hot weather will further galvanize commuters.

 

“During the summer it can cover more than eight city blocks and last for hours,” said. “We are very concerned about the safety, timing and location of (this) ride.”

McKenna said police want to inform commuters about the route, but organizers won’t tell them.

“We are urging motorists to remain calm and for riders to remain respectful of the rules of the road,” he said.

Critical Mass participant Andrea Curtis, 27, said there is no organizer and therefore no pre-planned route.

“Everybody meets at the Art Gallery and they follow whoever’s at the front,” she said.

Curtis said most participants don’t want to inconvenience drivers to the extent they have lately.

“That is the Catch-22 of Critical Mass. Riders hope to raise awareness about sustainable transportation, but we end up attracting such a huge amount of people that (it clogs traffic).”

Alex Precosky, 27, often participates in Critical Mass but said he’s worried about conflict on Friday.

“The heat and humidity will make people more angry, and that’s more reason to maybe avoid the area,” he said.

Precosky said it’s a shame that people who legitimately have to be somewhere – like the ferry or to pick up their kids – are kept waiting because of the event.

“Ideally it would be large enough to get some attention but not so big that it causes problems.”

Curtis and Precosky said the event is about reminding cyclists and motorists they have to share the road with each other.

“While it does overpower the transportation route for that one day, it’s important to make that (statement),” Curtis said.

 
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