Critical Manners Bike Ride Vancouver

Ride Postponed
September 9, 2009, 8:34 am
Filed under: The Ride

I’m amazed and inspired by how strong a chord was struck by cyclists fed up with being painted by the Critical Mass brush, and how many came out to support the first Vancouver Critical Manners Ride.

Unfortunately, as it sometimes does to the best of volunteers, life happened and I’m not able to continue to organize or lead the next Critical Manners ride.

But never fear! There are still some great opportunities to get involved in the local cycling community, get involved in advocacy that actually makes a difference to the cycling community and ride with other like-minded pedal pushers.

Join your local chapter of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition, and keep your eye on Pedal Etiquette.

The VACC has some upcoming courses on riding safely and legally in traffic. They’re also partnering with MEC to put on a number of Great Rides throughout the lower-mainland. And don’t forget, Bike to Work Week Fall Edition is coming up.

Pedal Etiquette is an emerging group, focused on riding (and walking, and driving) respectfully every day. I’m excited to see how it develops.

And of course, if you’d like to pick up the torch and take on the leadership of Critical Manners, please email criticalmanners.vancouver [at] gmail [dot] com!

Edited Sept 16th, 2009: There is quite the discussion going on in the comments here! However I’m going to ask the participants to “agree to disagree” and close comments.


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.

Next Ride, September 11 (Maybe?)
August 18, 2009, 7:20 pm
Filed under: The Ride

Thank you all for your wonderful feedback on the last post.

Before planning another ride, it’s helpful to know how many people are likely to participate.

Please vote in the poll below, and let us know if you’ll be there.

We did It!
August 14, 2009, 9:14 pm
Filed under: The Ride

A little over 100 cyclists completed the Critical Manners ride in Vancouver tonight to… not much fanfare at all! Exactly what we were aiming for.

Cyclists showed that we can take on the streets of Vancouver, riding with traffic and within the law, and everyone gets where they’re going pretty easily, with no stress, and even a little bit of fun!

Thanks to the cyclists who showed up, and thanks to the pedestrians and motorists along the way who cheered us on!

There will be a some more follow-up posts over the next few days, but in the meantime, please comment and share your thoughts on the ride.

Did you participate? What did you think of the format and the route?

Did you notice us? How did we appear to pedestrians, motorists and other cyclists?

Do you want to see it happen again? Be sure to say so!

Anything else to share? Drop it in the comments.

Ride Day!
August 14, 2009, 11:08 am
Filed under: The Ride

Hooray it’s ride day!

A few things to note before you head out to join us:

1. You are undertaking this ride entirely at your own risk. Please ride safely and ensure you’re in compliance with the laws of the land while you’re out on the streets.

2. There are a lot of left turns on this ride! If you are comfortable making left turns with cars, remember to signal and shoulder check. If you are not comfortable making left turns in the left turn lane, signal and pull off the road, then walk your bike across the crosswalks and re-join the ride.

3. We meet at David Lam Park at 5:45 – everyone is welcome and encouraged to join. The only requirements are that you want to cycle within the rules of the motor vehicle act and promote positive road-user relations.

See you there!

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

Download the pdf

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

The Long-Awaited Route!
August 12, 2009, 7:31 pm
Filed under: The Ride

I know I know, it’s what you’ve all been waiting for – the route for the first Vancouver Critical Manners Ride!

Meet at David Lam Park, on the large paved area at the Southwest corner of Pacific and Drake at 5:45pm.

Riders will depart at 6:00pm, heading Northeast in the bike lane on Pacific
Turn Left as Pacific turns into Quebec
Turn Left on Expo Blvd.
Turn Right on Carrall
Turn Left on Pender
Turn Left on Richards
Turn Right on Davie
Turn Right on Hornby
Turn Left on Dunsmuir
Turn Left on Burrard
Turn Right on Chestnut
Turn Right on Whyte
Finish at Vanier Park!

There’s a map of the route here.

If at any time you are separated from the group and can’t remember where to go, make your way carefully and lawfully to Vanier Park and we’ll see you at the end.

Can’t wait for Friday!

**Update Aug 13, 3:00pm**

Seems the route is not what many people were expecting. In case it’s a bit lost in the comment string, I’ve reposted my response here:

Many new riders *are* frightened to ride with traffic outside bike lanes. Nothing wrong with taking baby steps. Picking that route was to make it more accessible to people at all comfort levels.

Besides, the purpose of this ride is to take a positive action. That’s it.

Regardless of how you feel about the route, I hope that everyone who still believes in a peaceful, purposeful and respectful ride will be there with us on Friday!