Out of the controversy surrounding cycling activist group Critical Mass, a new pedal power group called Critical Manners has launched — one that’s both the antithesis to the other bike ride, and its counterpart.
Between 50 to 100 cyclists are expected to hit the bike lanes and side streets of downtown Vancouver on Friday for the first Critical Manners event, said organizer Jennifer Watkiss.
“(Some) Critical Mass (participants) think they should own the road, and that’s entirely the wrong idea,” said Watkiss, 29, who commutes by bike everyday between Kitsilano and Richmond.
Thousands of people turned out to the last Critical Mass, which blocked roads at rush hour and in the past has led to fights between cyclists and motorists.
Watkiss said while the event has done “good things” for cycling, it’s become disruptive and the message is getting lost behind belligerent participants who break the law.
“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if a few well-mannered cyclists went around in Vancouver in solidarity against people being lawless and causing mayhem?’”
She said the spirit of Critical Mass and Critical Manners are the same — a celebration and promotion of bike culture.
But unlike Critical Mass, the new event will share the road with commuters and cyclists will abide by the law.
“Who’s to say that one person’s form of transportation is better than someone else’s?” Watkiss asked. “Shoving cycling down someone’s throat isn’t going to make them want to do it. You have to make it look appealing.
“You can’t paint all cyclists with the critical mass brush. Cyclists are standing up and going, ‘I want to be a cyclist activist, but being disruptive is not the best way to do that.’”