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May 2009Go to Slide Show

My first Critical Mass


Critical Mass

I have never been on a Critical Mass ride before.  I first heard about them maybe five years ago and I saw one ride by my house a few months ago, but what really pushed me to go was the news that the downtown branch of the company I work for is being transfered to the burbs and I wouldn't be able to easily go in the future.

Gallery

The formula is pretty simple - show up at the Art Gallery around 5:30 and the ride starts at 6pm.  There is a short announcment before the ride starts - related events (like an after party) are announced and a short saftey talk is given.  The saftey is pretty brief - stay together.  Don't stop suddenly.  Thank the corkers.  Who are corkers?  Corkers are you - they are riders who stop traffice so that the ride can go by safely (and quickly). 

Pirate Day Ride AnnouncementDance Party After

There is no set route - the course is set by the people at the front of the ride and everyone else just follows.  Slowly, with lots of bike bells ringing, we funneled out onto Howe Street.  We rode down Howe Street and onto the on ramp.

Onto Granville St Bridge

Being my first ride, this is all new to me.  When we got a clear sight of the bridge, you start to understand how many people are involved in this enterprise - easily a thousand, probably closer to two thousand.

Crest Of Granville Street Bridge

When we reached the crest of the bridge the mass stopped.  Near the front of the ride, you could see people raising there bikes over their heads.  Turns out this is tradition - a celebration of sorts.  I suspect this was also a smoke break.   Soone enough (and gathered together), we were off again.

Down Bridge

The freedom of riding over the whole bridge is quite hard to put into words.  The Granville Street bridge isn't normally bike friendly - the sidewalks are too narrow to tbe shared, the outer lanes are dominated by busses and the traffic is fast even though it's a long uphill.  Taking over the whole bridge, we could take the time to look around.

Fir Street Exit
I pulled aside on the far end of the bridge to try and get a sense of the scale involved here.  Even though we were well off the bridge, the were people still coming on on the far end.  Amazing!


Blocking Jaguar On Seventh Ave
So how do people deal with an unplanned 10 minute long parade?  98% of people are supportive.  We get tons of thumbs up and smiling people honking.  Rarely, you find someone who just has to turn left right now and they don't understand that hundreds of bikers are using that part of the road.   When a car appears to be turning into the mass, people on bikes will pull up in front and just stop - they are corking.  Often a conversation will ensue - once explained, most drives are content to wait or find another route.


Filling Burrard Street Bridge
We turned onto the Burrard Street bridge - another bridge with bike history.  Currently bikes and pedestrians share too narrow sidewalk.  There is a multi-million dollar project to wide this bridge to put in a bike lane, but for several years there have been proposals to close a lane to cars to dedicate to bikes.  Nothing has happened yet.


Riding Into Downtown
Knowing how many people were riding, you get to understand how much this ride disrupts the usual flow of traffic.  We rode up Burrard street - usually a no go zone for bikes (Hornby, one block over has a good bike lane) and started heading back towards the core of the city.


Burrard Street Blocked Both WaysView Towards Lost LagoonRiding Past Shangri La
 
Deep Blue BuildingsWe Are Not Blocking Traffic

Biking down the middle of streets amoung the forest of towers is magical.  The sun was getting lower on this horizon so the light became more patchy as it weaved it's way through the buildings.


Vancouver has a crew of people who like to modify bikes.  Double decker bikes (higher than SUV's) are a common modification, as are various cargo bikes.  There was a gentleman with a TV tied to the back of his bike.  The TV was driven by batteries and he could change the image using his iPhone.  Impressive tech for a bike.

Double Decker Bike TVBike And BBQBike
 
We headed out of the downtown core towards Main and Hastings - the downtown east side.  This area can be little rough (a lot of characters), but the locals were very enthusiastic supporters of the ride.  The downtown night market was already going and people lined up to watch us go by.

Hastings And HomerMain And HastingsChinatown Night Market
 
  Riding Up Main Street
We rode up Main street towards broadway and it was coming up to my time to end the day.  By this point we had been riding for about an hour and half.  I didn't realize that the critical mass didn't just start and end - it just keeps going as long as there are people.  Very cool.

Pirate Rider
 


Riding Up Main Street
Tags: biking, Vancouver
TVBike And BBQBike
Tags: barbeque, biking
Double Decker Bike
Tags: biking, Vancouver
Riding Into Downtown
Tags: biking, city, Vancouver
Pirate Day Ride Announcement
Tags: performance
Gallery
Tags: biking, panorama
Deep Blue Buildings
Tags: biking, building, Vancouver
Riding Past Shangri La
Tags: biking, flare, Vancouver
Fir Street Exit
Tags: biking, bridge, crowd, Vancouver
Blocking Jaguar On Seventh Ave
Tags: biking, conflict
Pirate Rider
Tags: biking, crowd
Dance Party After
Tags: sign
View Towards Lost Lagoon
Tags: biking, city, Vancouver
Down Bridge
Tags: biking, bridge, panorama, Vancouver
Burrard Street Blocked Both Ways
Tags: biking, city, Vancouver
Onto Granville St Bridge
Tags: biking, bridge, city, panorama
We Are Not Blocking Traffic
Tags: biking, Brutalist architecture, conflict, Vancouver
Chinatown Night Market
Tags: market
Hastings And Homer
Tags: biking, Vancouver
Crest Of Granville Street Bridge
Tags: bridge, city, crowd, Vancouver
Main And Hastings
Tags: biking, building, Vancouver
Filling Burrard Street Bridge
Tags: biking, bridge
Tags: biking(18), Vancouver(13), city(5), bridge(5), crowd(3), panorama(3)
From: John Harvey Photo > Blogs for 2016 to 2005 > May 2009

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Last Modified Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 01:42:54 Edit
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