Critical Manners Bike Ride Vancouver

Critical Manners Media Release
August 13, 2009, 9:11 am
Filed under: The Ride

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For Immediate Release
August 13, 2009

Critical Manners Ride to Promote a Peaceful Alternative to Critical Mass

(Vancouver, BC)- A group of local cyclists will take to the streets this Friday, August 14th, 2009 as a part of Vancouver’s first ever Critical Manners ride. The Critical Manners event aims to be a peaceful alternative to Critical Mass, with a goal to promote a safe coexistence between cyclists and drivers. Critical Manners cyclists will meet at 5:45pm on the 14th at the David Lam Park in Yaletown with the first riders leaving the site at 6:00pm. The ride will end at Vanier Park at approximately 7:30pm.

“As someone who often commutes to work by bicycle, I have a personal interest in maintaining good relations between cyclists and drivers,” said event organizer, Jen Watkiss, “After the public backlash regarding the last Critical Mass event, I thought that a peaceful, purposeful and above-all, respectful bike event was what we all needed.”

The route that will be traveled by Critical Manners cyclists has been reviewed and received approval from both the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Police Department. Members of the general public will likely not notice the Critical Manners cyclists as they will be staying in bike lanes or on the far right side of the road, obeying all traffic signals and otherwise doing their best to share the road effectively with all other vehicles and pedestrians. For more information, please visit: To view a map of the route, please see this link:

About Critical Manners:

Critical Manners originated in San Francisco in 2007 as a response to the controversial Critical Mass rides occurring in that city. More recently, Critical Manners rides have occurred in many cities on the second Friday of each month including: Indianapolis, Illinois, Topeka, Kansas and Little Rock, Arkansas. Similar rides in other cities include: Ride Civil in Seattle, Washington and Courteous Mass in Atlanta, Georgia and Dayton, Ohio.

About Critical Mass:

Critical Mass cycling events typically occur on the last Friday of each month and are held in over 300 cities around the world. To prepare for the last Critical Mass event, the Vancouver Police issued a warning to the public to avoid the downtown area on the evening of the event.


Critical Manners organizer, Jen Watkiss will arrive at David Lam Park at 5:15pm and will be available for media interviews at that time.

Media contact:

Crystal Reinitz



I’m very concerned about the point that this ride is departing from and the path it is starting to take. Jen, I think it is great that you have felt motivated to encourage this ride, but I would like to point out that for this to really be a powerful initiative it shouldn’t be owned. The press releases, media interviews, and having your name attached to this will likely only inevitably undermine this event. I’m not a big fan of CMass, but the one strength I see it has is the strength in community and the flat leadership model. This critical manners ride, is turning more and more into your ride each day by the sense I get. Unfortunately, I fear that this may impede the ability of the ride to evolve naturally into it’s own necessary life…without control. If people start taking the ride to other heights or to other lows that don’t match with your ideas, what happens? Are they not invited back. Are they excluded? I admire you for the work you’ve put into this, but I would encourage you, for the sake of cycling and driving with manners in this city to let it be it’s own, with it’s own identity, like CMass, for it to be something really special that none of us can predict.

Comment by Molly

Thanks for the comment. Input, opinions and enthusiasm from other riders have shaped most of what this first ride has become. I think seeing how it goes will shed a lot of light on what the next steps for the Critical Manners initiative should be.

Comment by criticalmanners

Lots of people kibitzed that there _should_ be a Critical Manners type ride, Jen deserves kudos for stepping up, setting it in motion, and leveraging her marketing skills to get lots of media attention.

It is both a beauty and a weakness that Critical Mass has no leadership, because it also has no voices that have been able to defend it to media that has sharply attacked it.

This is a first try, an experiment, we’ll see how it goes and there will be plenty of time after to nitpick 🙂

Comment by GregEh

Thanks Greg – honestly, it wasn’t a lot of work to get the media attention. Other than pushing the release out today, all the attention has come unsolicited. The fact that Critical Manners has an organizer willing to speak to the media has been all it’s taken to garner publicity.

That said, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Crystal Reinitz, who’s taken on the job of fielding the requests as they’ve increased, so I don’t get fired from my day-job for spending all my time on the ride!

Comment by criticalmanners

I agree with GregEh. Its not like anyone else has stepped up to the plate and decided to organize anything like this. I too have posted some comments on this site with possible suggestions on how I think the ride should be improved, but being that this is a group ride, we will all have to compromise a little. Though, if someone doesnt want to be civil and follow the rules of the road, why would they even bother coming on this ride? So to ask ” If people start taking the ride to other heights or to other lows that don’t match with your ideas, what happens” seems kind of odd, Molly. And in reality, this is the first time we are all doing a ride of this nature, obviously there are going to be things that we overlooked this time and will implement in future rides!

Comment by Brendan

I don’t understand why you have to ride single file to ride legally? Cannot a group of bikers legally occupy the same space within a lane as a car(s) would? Isn’t that why the new bike boxes cover the width of an entire lane? I simply don’t see how you can have a social, group ride that creates a sense of connectedness while riding single file. That said, I think it’s crucial that bikers obey traffic laws if we are to be seen as legitimate modes of transport (and human beings). However, I love the once-a-month opportunity to ride in a huge, social, & safe posse during CM. Sure it creates traffic..for one day a month…after rush hour. Drivers (of which I am one) willingly accept waiting in much worse traffic everyday…for example the canada line construction on Cambie or DT. Good luck.

Comment by ranae

According to the Motor Vehicle Act, no, a group of bikers can not legally occupy the same space within a lane as a car. Whether or not it’s a good law isn’t the question here.

Comment by criticalmanners

I don’t agree with it but single file is the strict interpretation of the law. Bike boxes exist so that bikes can get a jump on the light before returning to single file (in theory).

IMHO, Critical Mass isn’t particularly social. Like most Vancouver events, it’s a bunch of people mostly not talking to each other, keeping to their own friends or social groups.

Comment by GregEh

As a pedestrian who worries a lot about becoming cyclist road-kill, I am thrilled to see this initiative. Among other things, I hope that cyclists will stop thinking cars vs. bikes and begin thinking cars+bikes+ pedestrians. What do pedestrians need from cyclists? That they stop riding their bikes on the sidewalk and in pedestrian crosswalks (they can walk their bikes) and that they pay attention to stop signs and red lights–these would help a lot in the efforts to turn down the heat in these conversations.

Comment by br3n

with thousands of bike riders showing up on the last friday of the month. it is impossible to ride single file.LoL If we did stop at every red light it would break the ride up and not be safe anymore.Even the police bike riders that ride with us go threw red light too with us.

Comment by steve walker

It is unlikely that experienced cyclists will travel immediately behind cyclists that they do not know. It is just too dangerous. Most cyclists will follow slightly to the left or the right of the cyclist in front of them. However, this will result in cyclists taking the entire right lane of traffic. Totally legal and totally safe.

Comment by Lee

In describing Critical Mass events, you state that, “Vancouver Police issued a warning to the public to avoid the downtown area on the evening of the event.”

Actually, the Vancouver Police issued a warning to *motorists* in particular, not the general public. Otherwise it seems that you are trying to keep the tone as neutral as possible in your description, so perhaps you’d like to fix this error.

I’ve never been part of a critical mass ride, but I do support the idea and I also applaud this effort as another alternative. All the best to you and all the riders who come out.

Comment by Aimée

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