Critical Manners Bike Ride Vancouver

About the Organizer

Jennifer Watkiss is an average Vancouver resident and slightly-more-than-occasional bike-commuter. She’s commuted in all the ways most people do: walking, transit, cycling, carpooling, and single-occupancy driving. Cycling is by far her favourite. She used to ride downtown, and now traverses the city to Richmond.

The idea for a Critical Manners Vancouver ride was born out of her frustration with the Critical Mass event. Once a demonstration of the vast numbers of cyclists riding in cities, it’s become a race to the bottom, a fight for dominance between cyclists and motorists and a brazen showing of flagrant disregard and disrespect for the law and fellow citizens who dare to choose not to ride.

Critical Manners is about being the change you wish to see in the world.

It’s about being thankful for and using the over 300km of bikeways in Vancouver. It’s about showing that cyclists and motorists can co-exist peacefully and encouraging more people to ride. It’s about proving that cyclists are, at their core, very nice people who want to do the right thing!

You can contact Jennifer via email at

For media inquiries, please contact
Crystal Reinitz
twitter: @crystalreinitz


26 Comments so far
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This is awesome! Good for you Jennifer:)

Comment by Manda

Do good things, and good things happen… I see you’re a fan of Carson Daly, too!

Comment by Mark

[…] the Critical Manners Vancouver site: The idea for a Critical Manners Vancouver ride was born out of her frustration with the Critical […]

Pingback by From Critical Mass to Critical Manners

Good idea. But what you need to do to explain who and what you are to drivers are signs saying anything along the lines of “Critical Manners” or “We are not Critical Mass” or “We share the road” or whatever. Otherwise you won’t be noticed by the driver/pedestrians/whoever and need to differentiate yourself.
This is a problem with Critical Mass. They claim to protest anything from not enough bike lanes to cars in general to now saying it’s a “celebration”, and fail to have any signs or anything explaining why they’re *really* there.
You need to be different from them and get the support from drivers/pedestrians that the Critical Mass riders *claim* they want.

Comment by me

I don’t think that CManners should have to carry signs to differentiate ourselves from CMassers since our behavior on the road should speak volumes. I do think that in the end CManners will still piss off drivers because driver’s brains are wired “that raging way”. They start leaning on their horns once the red light turns green and the car ahead of them waits 1 second before moving… They get all mad when they miss a light and are delayed 2 minutes… On the other hand, cyclists are easy going and friendly to fellow cyclists… if someone wants to ride faster than me , they just pass me… no worries… if a cyclist crashes into me… no worries… we just get up off the ground and keep going… drivers need to chill out…

Comment by Lee

I tend to agree with Lee that carrying signs is over the top. Defining the movement in distinction to Critical Mass starts us down the road of in-fighting among cyclists, when we do have the same goal but have different ideas about how to get there. If the goal is to eventually bring Mass and Manners together, then go for it, but be ready to have some give and take. It seems the Massers were ready to calm their antagonism of drivers on the last ride, so I’d be for looking for ways to bridge the attitudes rather than reinforce differences.

Comment by Todd Sieling

Good ideas gain traction. We have enough marketing today. The law of (positive) attraction will play out. Just keep doing the right thing!

Comment by Michael

So good, this is exactly what we need, I’ll be there.

Comment by Krrh

While so much of what Critical Mass represents is close to my heart, I’ve stayed away from rides because of the antagonistic bent that riders often take. How can cyclists demand to be treated as traffic when they won’t behave as traffic? I’m truly grateful to see the Critical Manners idea emerge, and hope to join in on the August 14th ride.

Comment by Todd Sieling

I believe this is what turning the other cheek is about. Fighting fire with fire is never going to solve the problem. Showing others that we have the intentions and sincerity to solve the greater problem will definitely help to solve the problem in the long run.

I had reservations about Critical Mass after stuck in downtown as a pedestrian once by the ride, but I will definitely try to make it out to this event!

Comment by Deacy

Your characterization of CM is that of a few miscreants. I’d imagine the other road users don’t speed either or jockey for position?
Forget the endless bantering of they did this and you did that. Cyclists are not going to wait eons for the safe passage they require, thankfully Vancouver city planners are on the ball to a degree, but the politics of giving asphalt to cyclists is more fearsome than the health or death of a child or anyone else trying to make a difference or be active. And that’s it, cyclists are trying to make a difference and paying for it in flesh. Hand over safe car free streets to the people of this region from killer cars and callous drivers NOW.

My Critical Mass statement of recent is the half-assed Burrard Bridge allotment.

Great numbers of Canadians love nature appreciate nature and are about saving the planet, but do they conserve or consume? When the rubber hits the road they sell their childrens future to keep what they have today.
We need drastic intervention, this automobile privilege has cost society and the planet too much. I’d even support car useage days based on plate numbers. Any immediate measures to show the governments commitment, all there is talk and delay and greenwash. You are more valuable as a consumer than a citizen.

Comment by TRUTH BE TOLD

Personally, I don’t love riding in Critical Mass (though I have thoroughly enjoyed it and it has been a great eye-opener for me in the past!) I much prefer a smaller group ride where I can hang out and talk to friends…

The lack of public knowledge about Critical Mass is problematic. It doesn’t help that conventional media are always getting the facts wrong.

While the participants in Critical Mass may hold their own ideas of what they are biking “for” Critical Mass as an event does not “stand for” anything in particular. It is simply people riding their bikes together on the road. That is kind of the beauty of it.

I suggest reading the Wikipedia entry about Critical Mass to gain a basic understanding of the origins and intent of event. It will help you be better informed in all your discussions on this topic. Here’s the first part:

Critical Mass is a bicycling event typically held on the last Friday of every month in over 300 cities around the world.[1] While the ride was originally founded in 1992 in San Francisco with the idea of drawing attention to how unfriendly the city was to cyclists,[2] the leaderless structure of Critical Mass makes it impossible to assign it any one specific goal. In fact, the purpose of Critical Mass is not formalized beyond the direct action of meeting at a set location and time and traveling as a group through city or town streets on bikes.

Comment by Amy Walker

Cheers to you and best of luck on Critical Manners – a great idea. Vancouver os one of the most bike friendly cities I’ve seen (in North America) even if the Sun Newspaper is rabidly antibike. CM will help people realize that bikes can share the road

Comment by Paul

Thanks Jennifer for organize this.

I am in the exact position, I wanted to organize something like you did until I heard about Critical Manner on the radio.

I bike, take transit, and drive, but cycling is by far my favorite transportation, since it just make perfect finance, environment and health sense.

I personally don’t like Critical Mass and people who ride unlawfully. This will do nothing to inspire people to ride, and as well, I feel even more unsafe with the backlash of the motorist.

I think if Critical Manner can raise awareness that there are many safe and dedicated routes and trails in Vancouver/Burnaby/Coquitlam/Richmond then more people would like to ride more.

Comment by Anthony

Way to go, Jennifer – it’s great to see that people in Vancouver are doing this, too. We have a small group here in Moncton that meets up for rides like this. Fortunately, drivers here are *mostly* very courteous and safe (although there are the occasional jerks who don’t know the rules and like to make it known). The good drivers really deserve a hand (several of them yielded to me before making right turns this morning, for example, and nobody failed to yield).
Well said, Anthony – I think the best thing we can do for safer cycling is to have as many people as possible riding right there on the road, obeying the rules! Drivers will become more aware and accustomed to cyclists and the rules that apply to them, and cyclists in turn can feel safer on the road. Life is too short to fight with people who probably have a lot in common with you other than your bike.
(FYI, before anyone calls me a small town East coaster who never has to deal with real traffic, please consider that I have also lived in the US and cycled the roads in Los Angeles, Miami, DC, Baltimore, NYC…)

Comment by Andrea

Wow … it’s like someone read my mind. I was actually thinking of starting something like this but I’m glad you did. I will be there in full support. I have a few sign ideas that I want to rock!!!

Comment by Typographer

will this ride comply with MVA 183 2(d) (“must not ride abreast of another person operating a cycle on the roadway”) or could the city give a waiver for the ride?

Comment by jay

“could the city give a waiver”

Well that would defeat the entire purpose of the ride! Not to mention provide the Vancouver Sun with the Basis for another mass hysteria article.

Comment by Paul

Excellent! Glad to see there are others who think alike. I participated in Critical Mass twice and have coined it Critical Massholes. The cause does not help cyclists in any way. Kudos!

Comment by supersocco

Looking forward to this ride. I believe this is a tremendous idea that should complement the positive goals of Critical Mass (assuming there are any), without the implicit, idiotic, self-defeating taunting of car drivers. Well done for stepping up to organize this.

Comment by Ron

Cheers classy lady for perpetuating and encouraging positive action to promote the merging of cycle and auto on our roads. We can all share. Safely. See you at the ride.

Comment by claire

So, is there a call on the side by side riding question? Is the goal adherence to the letter or the spirit of the law for the ride?

Comment by Todd Sieling

Thanks so much Jen for capturing exactly the spirit that we need for cyclists and life in general…I’ll be there!

Comment by Matthew Queree

Awesome idea! Thanks for organizing! I’ll see you there.

Comment by A Kits Commuter

We do not have a confrontation (some call it war) between drivers and cyclists. It is between raging commuters, whether they are in a car, on a bike or even on foot. I mostly blame the media (at least in Vancouver) for creating the idea that this is about drivers vs. cyclists. It is about people, mostly men, who should change their behaviour on the road. Portraying it as a conflict between drivers and cyclists detracts from the real issue of road rage and dangerous driving/cycling.

In all my cycling in Vancouver I remember only once a driver threatening me on purpose, and when I drive I perhaps see once a year a cyclist doing something very dangerous. Having said that, it would be a very good idea to teach everybody safe cycling practices, starting in school. Everybody would benefit, also drivers who will have a better understanding of how cyclists move on the road.

Comment by kate

[…] the tone of the rhetoric or the behaviour of the participants. One of the Critical Mass refuseniks, Jennifer Watkiss of Vancouver, recently started a new bike ride that aims to be a more polite alternative, called […]

Pingback by Q&A: “Critical Manners” Vancouver founder aims to make streets less mean : This Magazine Blog // Canadian progressive politics, arts, culture, and ideas since 1966

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