Critical Manners Bike Ride Vancouver

Critical Manners in the News
August 12, 2009, 8:47 am
Filed under: The Ride

There’s been lots of news coverage for Friday’s Critical Manners ride.

Cyclists launch well-mannered rival to Critical Mass – The Province (August 1st) (Digg link)

Critical Mass bike ride should be “responsive to circumstance”: Reimer – The Georgia Straight (August 5th)

‘Well-mannered’ cyclists aim to make statement – Metro News Vancouver (August 12th)

Cyclists launch critically polite bike protest – CTV British Columbia online (August 14th)

Mind your manners, say cycling advocates today – The Tyee (August 14th)

I hope to see lots of fellow well-mannered cyclists out with me on Friday afternoon!



Hi Jennifer,

It is great that you are organizing another ride to promote cycling. Thank you for doing that.

However, I have some concerns about some of the things that you were quoted as saying in the Metro newspaper. I realize that sometimes journalists can take things out of context and I am sure your intentions are good.

You said, “(Some) Critical Mass (participants) think they should own the road, …”

It is important to acknowledge that cyclist do own the road. All members of the public own the roads. There is a myth going around that somehow cyclist don’t pay as much as drivers for road use and therefore have less entitlement to the roads. In fact the opposite is true. Drivers are heavily subsidized. So, people who cycle more than they drive are actually helping to subsidize the roads that drivers use.

You were also quoted as saying, “Who’s to say that one person’s form of transportation is better than someone else’s?”

There is a lot of evidence to say that one person’s form of transportation is better. Motor vehicles admit air pollution that kills an estimated 6,000 people per year in Canada (approximately 60,000 in the US). Vehicles are the largest source of ghg emissions in our region. And the science is pretty clear that we need to reduce ghg emissions by 80-90%. And then there are all the deaths and injuries that result for motor vehicle accidents. And at the same time we are subsidizing their use to the tune of 6 billion dollars per year in the Lower Mainland.

Given all these facts I am not sure how anyone can not honestly say that cycling is a “better” form of transportation. Sure, I do drive on occasion but when I do so I am quite aware that I have not chosen the better form of transportation.

As cyclists we need to be polite. But we also need to be honest.


Comment by rob

Thanks for your comment rob,

Of course the quotes were taken as part of a larger conversation, but they are not far off from my opinion.

I do feel like some Critical Mass participants think they should be the *sole owners* of the road. As you aptly pointed out, taxpayers own the road – and as a taxpayer, I would like to feel free to use it in whichever way is best for me and my life at that time.

As for the “betterness” of modes of transportation – there is more to a choice than the facts you outlined (ability, budget, time constraints, other obligations, etc.). And the only person that can choose the best mode of transportation for any person at a given time is that person him or herself. The best the rest of us can hope for is to lead by example. If we would like more people to cycle, we should show that it’s a safe, valid and viable mode of transport.

We do need to be polite. And part of that is getting off our high saddles and recognizing that ALL road users, on any legal mode of transportation, have equal rights to be there and deserve equal respect.


Comment by criticalmanners

Jen, You “‘feeling like’ some CM participants think they should be sole owners of the road” is a dubious reason to further polarize opinion between drivers and cyclists by making that statement. I don’t know any CM participants who honestly think that cars should not be allowed on the roads at all – and I’m pretty sure you don’t either. The fact is, there are not equal rights being exercised on the roads, between cars and bikes and biking remains and intimidating form of transportation for most people. CM is about a vision of how cycling could be if there wasn’t the continuous threat of harm on the roads – as is the case in Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands, where appropriate infrastructure exists for cycling. There is no Critical Mass in the city I lived in Sweden because it doesn’t need one. There’s also no Critical Manners either, because once the government provides appropriate space for cyclists, they obviously then don’t have to fight for it. But if we don’t ask for it, it’s not coming.

As well, the idea that the only person who can choose their mode of transportation is them, is also flawed logic. That is equivalent to the smoker’s smoking ban argument. “It’s my right to smoke when and where I want, it’s a free country.” It is a fact, that every time someone gets behind the wheel of a car and contributes to an already critical problem of air quality they are only furthering the concentration of greenhouse gasses into the environment. Those same greenhouse gasses are responsible for the depletion of the ozone, ever increasing rates of cancer, asthma and many other problems related to poor air quality. So, as is the case when a smoker lights up beside me, the car drivers actions are directly harming my health and the health of everyone else in the city.

If you would like to talk about manners, it would be polite if I didn’t have to breath second hand smoke or exhaust while I’m enjoying my dinner outdoors or riding my bike.

Comment by Lawrence

“…the only person that can choose the best mode of transportation for any person at a given time is that person him or herself….”

Maybe that is the problem – people are choosing the best option for themselves. Not the best option for the child suffering from Asthma, or for future generations.

Sorry, but I can not endorse that sort of limited selfish thinking.

Comment by rob

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: