We ride the last Friday of every month all year round. Meet at confederation park (elgin and laurier) at 5:30, ride leaves at 6pm!

This is a team blog. To join the team (and get access to post and/or administer the site), email criticalmassottawa@gmail.com

Saturday, December 31, 2005

December Mass

This month we were four riders strong! The procession began at Confederation Park and I joined the riders on Elgin St. We rode two by two and took up the whole of a one-way street for about two blocks until we decided to get onto O'Connor St. and get honked at while riding one by one on the side of the road by cars. A good critical mass bike ride was in order. I started singing Frosty the Snowman but I forgot the words and my voice sort of trailed off. I started thinking how much I had been looking forward to another Critical Mass after the large group ride we had in November. The four of us spent the young night comparing reflective wear and blinky lights and then we each drank a couple pints. Rob certainly had the most visibility to other riders and cars with his plethora of lights and reflective tape. Then we made stops at our respective houses and got a bunch of food together. We rode to Mooney's Bay to Mitch's house and made a gigantic pot of chili with cheese and chips.
In the morning we discussed bikes and biking. Gwen suggested flyering bike handlebars with handbills for the January Mass. I have a poster at home that I need to tweak and mass produce for raising awareness of the ride. I also had some thoughts about what I planned to do as a member of the Bike Collective.
I was wondering why the turnout for Dec Crit Mass was so small. People were probably out of town, maybe some were busy with other plans or with family, and maybe some people were uninterested in coming out to another mass... maybe they were disappointed with some of the kinks in the previous ride? I hope that the next mass will be a "critical mass" and not just four hopeful bikers decked out in reflective garments eating chili. I was proud of the turnout and engergy of the November ride, I was looking forward to new chants, I was hoping for bike advocacy strategy and events. Let's all make this happen, Ottawa!

Sara Pishva

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

pedestrians & puppets

so i got told off by a pedestrian during critical mass and rightfully so as at some intersections we were treating them like jerks (read cars) and pretty much running them over. pedestrians deserve our repsect so hopefully the next opening bit can talk can include a reminder of that instead say the sexist shit. it would also be good to accomodate public transportation as cycling is not a choice for everyone.

oh and if anyone is up for some PUPPETS on WHEELS next time let me know


Friday, December 02, 2005

Who Should Cork?

Recently I have noticed some comments about corking that I think, as a community, we should discuss. So here are my two cents, and I hope others will respond so we can reach some consensus before future rides.

The issue is, who should cork? Some people think it's safer if the experienced couriers take on this role, but I've been to many masses before where the idea is that everyone does it.

I think it's much LESS safe to only rely on only a few people because (1) having people ride from the front to the back at high speeds, at every intersection, is not safe - maybe it works in a pedestrian march but not for a bike ride, and (2) in terms of watching out for cars that could threaten the ride, more eyes are better. It's not as if we don't all do that everyday when we bike!

And frankly, cars are way less likely to get pissed and ram bikes if their corker is calm and smily, be they couriers or anyone else. If it appears that a certain group of people are corralling the whole ride, that gives the police and angry cars a focal point for their anger. If the corkers are always different, emerging from within the ride as necessary - how can they stop or get angry at that? It is more organic, more sustainable and stronger.

I'm not trying to bash couriers here, nor to promote a single image of them. I'm just saying that if the reason that we want couriers to cork is because we imagine that they fit into this certain stereotype (which they do not), and that stereotype is somehow better or safer to be doing ALL the corking at the ride, well I think that's wrong. But also let me say that those who did cork at the ride in November were generally very good and helpful so I'm not trying to aim any of these remarks at any individuals in particular.

This is not an issue of couriers vs. everyone else, it's an issue of people taking responsibility for the critical mass, and I believe it comes to the heart the ride's entire message - that it is not run by any one person or elite group of people, but owned by everyone. Everyone corking means we are all taking responsibility for the safety of the ride, and it is not complicated or difficult, anyone can learn how to cork just by watching. There may be some that choose not to do it regularly, but I think that, for safety, everyone should at least know how.

I welcome others to respond!