I've ridden a number of Critical Mass rides here in Toronto and my experience has been that it feels very safe. The fact that the entire roadway is taken up by cyclists ensures that we aren't passed too closely, and the fact that the mass is kept together through lights (much to the chagrin of some motorists) results in the mass staying together without cars 'embedded within' I've heard about (and today's Star is talking about) a ride where those two elements are not present: Critical Manners.
- They ride single file, obeying the lights, staying out of car lanes and letting vehicles through. Bike-car road rage is to be avoided.
It's a bit polite for a rally of cycling activists, especially since rides such as Critical Mass typically take up entire widths of road to raise awareness and advocate for bike lanes.
But this isn't Critical Mass, the cycling activists' ride that occurs monthly in Toronto and other cities. It's Critical Manners. Billing itself as the "respectful" alternative to Critical Mass, the new ride has begun to gain momentum in cities including San Francisco, and now, Vancouver. And amid discussions in Toronto of how to reach détente between cyclists and cars in the wake of the brutal death of cyclist Darcy Allan Sheppard after a run-in with a car Monday night, some here are anxious to make a kinder, gentler pro-bike statement.
(via the Toronto Star)
I'd be worried that there would be *more* conflicts for the same reasons we have conflicts day to day on the road - disrespectful motorists.
But hey, I'd be willing to try it, and I'd also love to hear from folks - have any of you ridden in a Critical Manners ride? Have you tried both?
One thing I *would* like to point out, though, is the inaccuracy of portraying Critical Mass as activism. To my knowledge there is no organization, no political purpose. It's simply a means to get a number of people together in a safe environment for a large ride. Some may carry flags promoting bike lanes on Bloor for example, but this is not the purpose as I understand it.