Critical Manners Bike Ride Vancouver

Mark Your Calendars, The Ride is On!
August 28, 2009, 4:03 pm
Filed under: Safe Cycling, The Ride

Update: September 9, 2009 – Spoke too soon. Unfortunately, this ride has been postponed until further notice.

It’s appropriate to announce, on the day of the next local Critical Mass ride (which the VPD have issued another notification about), we confirm that yes! There will be another Critical Manners ride!

Friday, September 11th, 6:00pm.

Meeting location and route TBD.

There was lots of great feedback on the last ride, the most notable type of content being one of riders feeling pretty comfortable while riding on the straight-aways, and things falling apart a bit while turning.

That ties in quite well with another problem of Critical Mass, noted in a recent comment in Momentum Magazine:

We were safer riding as a group, but we still weren’t as safe as Critical Mass. One rider said, “Although I took my son on Critical Mass at quite a young age–I would NOT have taken him on Critical Manners as it would not have been safe enough for him. The Critical Manners ride is only for confident cyclists.” It was fortunate for the less confident cyclists that others jumped in to offer guidance and model safe riding behaviour.

Critical Mass, as a bike parade, is certainly a safer place for inexperienced cyclists, because they are riding on a road that’s been blocked off for the sole use of bikes.

But it only exacerbates the problems cyclists see the other 27-30 days of the year: it gives sporadic and new cyclists a false sense of security by encouraging riding under irregular and illegal circumstances, and actively antagonizes other road users, making them likely to be more aggressive to cyclists riding without the protection of a mass.

So the next Critical Manners ride will focus on safe rider education, specifically lane changes and left turns. Obviously the practice session won’t take place in and around traffic, but we will also incorporate a street ride similar to the last Manners event. More details will be posted here as they come up.

In the meantime, please check out the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition (the great folks behind Bike to Work Week and other local cycling initiatives) and their schedule of safe-riding and bike maintenance classes.

You may also be interested in another local group that started around the same time as the Vancouver Critical Manners ride, Pedal Etiquette. Ryan’s vision for his group focuses on riding well and safely every day, which we should all be in support of!

In the meantime, please leave comments or email criticalmanners.vancouver at gmail dot com if you are able to help with the instructional portion of the ride, or have suggestions for a meeting/finishing point and route.



I would like to hear that cyclists are learning to obey the rules of the road the same as any driver, and minding their manners, the same as any civilized individual. I’m a pedestrian and I don’t hear much about this. Rather about drivers and how much they don’t care about cyclists. I’d like to know that someone is taking into consideration that they nearly knock over pedestrians on their way through a stop sign or light and that they bully their way through people on the sidewalk. I hate to see those things coming toward me as I know they are going to try to intimidate me and then really get off on it.

Comment by Janet Hudgins

I am one of the “interested but concerned” group of riders and I was definitely one of the “slow” group on the ride. I do not think that there is a way to safely, legally, and quickly (let alone politely) make that many turns with a large group. I had a bit of a chat about this with one of the bike cops, who encouraged us to ride abreast for safety even though the law requires us to be single file. His point, with which I firmly agree, was “use some common sense, people.”

I support Critical Manners and will probably ride again, depending on the route, but I would encourage the organizers to think about obeying the spirit of the law (and my understanding of the goal of the ride) by increasing the visibility of cyclists interacting with drivers and pedestrians in an atmosphere of respect and kindness- rather than sticking to the letter of the law. Some laws are not good laws in all situations.

I think more could be accomplished by increasing the visibility of pedestrian- and driver-friendly cyclists than by treating everyone to the sight of a hundred single-file cyclists performing a series of rigidly legal left turns in downtown traffic at rush-hour on a Friday. Half the drivers are driving illegally at that point trying to shave a few seconds here and there- everyone is tired and just wants to go home. Slowing drivers and pedestrians down only reinforces the stereotype that cyclists on city streets are self-righteous and don’t want to share with non-cyclists … and how is that message different from the message many people take from Critical Mass?

Perhaps the organizers would consider a route that reduces the number of left turns on city streets while still demonstrating that cyclists can and do blend in well an urban environment? Maybe crossing the city east-to-west a few times, but accomplishing the turns where there are natural roundabouts or on the seawall?

Comment by pelican

I would like to read the second VPD notice about Critical Mass, that you mention here. Can you post a link please ?

Comment by John

Sorry, I don’t have a link. I heard it on a couple radio stations the morning of the ride (CFOX and ThePeak)

Comment by criticalmanners

“So the next Critical Manners ride will focus on safe rider education, specifically lane changes and left turns.”

Take the fun out of it with all your rules and no one will want to show up. I certainly don’t want to attend if people are telling me I have to do this and I have to do that.

And I very much agree with the above comments about Critical Manners not being as safe a place to ride as Critical Mass.

I still don’t get this “being invisible” thing. What’s the point if no one notices?

You can keep your Critical Manners and I’ll keep going to Critical Mass. At least the bicycle gets noticed at Critical Mass.

Comment by Jim Mann

Not my rules. Just the ones set out by the Motor Vehicle act. As for including skills development, it was something asked for at the last Critical Manners ride by a number of participants.

It’s not about being invisible – which we weren’t. It’s about being respectful and riding as a part of traffic, rather than blocking it.

Comment by criticalmanners

It’s a ride not a parade. Next you’ll be calling it a mess.

Comment by yrmom

I’d originally indicated, via the online poll, that I’d be attending the September 11 ride. Unfortunately I’ve had a schedule conflict come up and won’t be able to make it. I hope you have a great ride — wish I could be there!

Comment by Dave

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