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Toronto Critical Mass Book Released

For those of you into the anarchic aspects of cycling advocacy, Darren Stehr of TorontoCranks has just released a collection in book form of 10 years worth of Critical Mass photos.

The price may seem a little steep at $40 for a paperback, but this is independently produced.

I’m not condoning or condemning Critical Mass, as it’s a great community event that also happens to be confrontational and anti-car at times.

Confrontation can be useful to garner attention, but harmful when conciliation, co-operation and vast societal change is the goal.

More at Toronto Cranks.

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Critical Mass and Red Lights

I posted photos from July’s Critical Mass earlier today, and got a couple thought-provoking comments regarding the ride and red lights.

Everything about Critical Mass is legal (as far as I can tell) except for the going through red lights thing. At “first blush”, it actually seems pretty sensible for two reasons:

1) it’s safer for the cyclists to stay in one group, as if cars got caught up in the middle of it, it would inevitably cause chaos and perhaps an accident.

2) it is less of an inconvenience to automobile traffic having all the cyclists stick together. One group of 300 cyclists, while large, moves through the streets in one “entity”, only causing a localized disturbance on a city’s streetgrid. Contrast this to two groups of 150 cyclists (which may result from a group being split up by red lights), or 3 groups of 100, or 6 groups of 50 each… instead of one localized group of many cyclists, you would have many groups of many cyclists.

Many people suggest that Critical Mass should get parade permits, and this happens is some cities, like Portland, OR… but for the most part, a Critical Mass route is not planned beforehand, attendees aren’t registered, and is simply a bunch of cyclists riding together.

If a bunch of cars travel together down a city street and clog it up, even trying to go through intersections at bad times and block traffic until they can exit the intersection, why can’t bikes?

However, for arguments sake, let’s say that Critical Mass (which has been pretty successful all over the world since starting in San Francisco (Google Video) in 1993), changes, and we start stopping and dividing the group at red lights.

The Misanthrope Cyclist has already explored this possibility, and it’s actually a really good idea:

Stop for the red lights. If either of the separated groups are “too small”, the people that made it through the light should pull to the side of the road and wait; that’s not illegal, right? When the light changes, they rejoin as one mass – preferably with much fanfare – and proceed. However, if the two groups aren’t “too small” they can proceed as two Masses.

As the group splinters, the Mass’ ubiquitousness will increase. A single five hundred-person Mass could become ten fifty-person Masses and each would still be larger than many smaller cities’ rides. Imagine ten simultaneous Critical Masses meandering through the city!

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Critical Mass Toronto – July Photos

Here’s some pretty photos from last friday’s Critical Mass Ride. There were a lot of people there, but I’m not sure how many… anyone count them?


On Bloor at St. George… you can see the Bata Shoe Museum there in the background. I was near the back of the Mass for most of the ride (I’m just a slowpoke, I guess…).


On Bloor at Queen’s Park Crescent. I’m quite proud that I took a couple okay photos over my shoulder AND that people felt compelled to look at my camera. :) On the left n the background you can see a bit of the new addition to Royal Ontario Museum … which you can see in a better shot too.


On Yonge at Gerrard, heading south… going through a red light (which is just practical when biking with hundreds of other people. :)


Here’s a photo of Tanya (courtesy of TorontoCranks.com), with me behind her (in blue) laughing with a guy, who, when asked why we were riding in a group by a pedestrian, answered not with “to promote cycling as a viable transportation alternative” but with “we’re against test tube babies“. I thought this was very hilarious.

You can see all 22 photos I took over here.

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Critical Mass Tomorrow Night

July’s Edition of Critical Mass Toronto goes tomorrow night. Recent months have seen approximately 200 cyclists riding together, taking over the roads.

It’s a lot like what the Don Valley Parkway looks like every morning and night, clogged with thousands of cars driving together, only Critical Mass does it with bikes, and on normal city streets.

Meet on the southeast corner of Bloor & Spadina at 6:00 for general mingling and chatting. The ride starts at 6:30. I’d tell you the route, but it’s usually decided “on the fly”, so to speak.

I’ll wear my I Bike T.O. shirt, so say “hi” if you see me. :)

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Darren Stehr’s Critical Mass Book

Wow… cool news on Darren Stehr’s “Toronto Cranks” site! Darren is putting together a book about Critical Mass Toronto that will be a collection of various photos he’s taken of Critical Mass over the past 8 years.

In addition, Darren is looking for your help. He wants to include your thoughts on Critical Mass, whether they are “good, bad, or indifferent.

All profits will be donated to ARCs legal fund in support of cyclists.

More details on Darren’s site.

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