For pedestrians and cars moving in the other direction, it’s a marvel of creativity and wonder. For people stuck in their cars behind it, it’s a frustratingly slow moving monster made of hippies, punks, and no-good beatniks. For me, it’s a monthly liberation. Biking up up and down streets, no cars around you, your peers in crazy costumes, and the sound of honking urging you on.
Of course, I’m talking about Critical Mass. I went to Critical Mass on Friday. It was a good ride, about 200 cyclists. I had one irate motorist curse and swear at me, but most people were happy to see us. I’m really looking forward to the rides this summer when there’s many thousands of cyclists.
On Saturday, I saw a documentary about Critical Mass in Vancouver called You Never Bike Alone. It was amazing. Most of the movie was about Critical Mass and biking culture in Vancouver in general. There were some cool bits about the history of the mass and the progress that has been made with more bike lanes and better access to the bridges. There were also some great bits about pimped out chopper bikes (I want one!) and various cycling groups in Vancouver.
But the most relevant part was the future challenges and the Gateway Project in particular. $4.5 billion to expand highways in the Lower Mainland. Can you image how amazing the public transit and bike paths could be here if they spent that much money on public transit? Wow! We’d be the talk of the world, but with more freeways we’ll just be another Los Angeles or Toronto. And ask Toronto how well expanding highways works to relieve congestion. You add more lanes and more cars will just fill them up – I’ve seen the 401 in gridlock even with 16 lanes. Now, add another Skytrain route and now we’re talking. The alternative solutions are pretty clear.