Saturday, October 27, 2007

Critical Mass ride and ride home for Friday, 26 October

Went to Idealbikes after work and took some pictures, then hit up MEC for some new gloves since mine got trashed in the last major accident. After that I went up to Victoria Park for Critical Mass. There was a really big turnout, I think the count was 85 people. I was particularly impressed by this self-made bike caravan, the owner lives out of it year round:


Just before we set off, a couple of bike police showed up. They didn't say anything to anyone, just stood off to one side and observed. There were a lot of mutterings about it being a problem (particularly after issues with police and Critical Mass in other cities), but I was deeply surprised when they essentially turned themselves into marshals for the ride, and corked every street the ride went along. When the driver of an SUV started to try to force his way into the middle of the crowd they were there almost immediately and defused the situation - I was extremely impressed by how professional and courteous they were. Since it was dark my camera was insisting on exposure times of up to half a second and most of the pictures didn't turn out, but here's one where they're just about visible - the two riders in yellow jackets are the bike police:

Somewhere along Brunswick we picked up a squad car in front that cleared the way for us, then when we got down to Barrington it stopped in a lane so we could merge over then followed us the whole way along, stopping traffic at Cornwallis for the memorial for Michael Brooker. After that, we headed up Barrington (still with full police escort and bike police), up Spring Garden, then worked our way up University to see the other "bike lane" in Halifax (where the paint has pretty much worn off the road), then through the residential areas towards Quinpool. The bike police had a fairly loud conversation with each other about how they'd better start ticketing riders without lights or reflectors, so the message spread quickly for those in the mass without lights to bail out - I guess that was their way of giving advance warning, which was good of them. The only other problem we had was at the intersection of Vernon and Jubilee, when a police van stopped in the middle of the intersection to demand which way we were going. Peter told them we were headed to the lights, on to Quinpool, then to the Commons. The police officer for some reason said that wasn't enough information and needed to know where we were going so he could block traffic. Peter again gave him the route, and again the officer said it wasn't enough. At this point the bike police came up and everyone just rode around the police van and we kept going. The police van met us at the Quinpool intersection on Robie and stopped traffic in all directions (including the cars waiting in front of us, which I felt mildly guilty about) and then waved us through. We headed down along Cogswell, walked our bikes across the crosswalk (discretion being the better part of valour, since we still had the bike police with us and we didn't want to force them to cause any problems) and the ride ended on the middle of the Commons. I headed home after that, while most of the others who could stay headed off to the bike movie at the Creighton Roxy.

One slightly disturbing rumour I heard after was that Peter had been stopped after the ride by the police. I'm not sure what happened (and I haven't got a reply from an email I sent him) but I hope everything went OK...

So in summary, it was a good ride, with a lot of helpful co-operation from the police, with only the rumour of Peter having problems at the end to mar it. Pictures (mostly blurred due to excessively long exposure times) are here.

UPDATE - I got an email back from Peter, he ended up having a productive conversation with a police officer with suggestions for future rides. Apparently there was a cyclist hit on North Park Street which explained why the police were so nervous about us going to the Commons.

Distance logged: 20.012km
Time: 89:44
Average speed: 13.4km/hr
Max speed: 46.5 km/hr
Temperature: 12C-6C, clear
Cumulative distance: 3756.030km
Cumulative cost per km: $0.23
Monthly distance: 484.962km
Monthly cost per km: $0.11


Blogger Andrew. said...

Steve, chances are one of those cops was Joe Fougere, Shelia Fougeres husband. Sheila is running for mayor next year, she is amazing so he her husband. Joe is one of the most popular officers on the force. You guys probably had an escort due to the sheer size of the group that night.

Saturday, October 27, 2007 2:57:00 pm  
Blogger steve said...

Thanks for the info, Andrew. I'm curious now to know if it really was him, but I can't find any pictures of him online.

Sheila has my vote already as she seems to be the only councillor who has shown any interest in cycling issues, if she has a bike cop as a husband that explains it!

Saturday, October 27, 2007 3:14:00 pm  
Blogger westbound said...

One of the riders in our club(Bicycles Plus) is a bike cop. He's a rider like the rest of us. Don't know if he was there or not. He escorted with the heartland Tour when we came into town.

They're just making sure everything is safe.

Saturday, October 27, 2007 3:40:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While having the bike cops there was mostly fine (hey, that puts the numbers almost to 90!) the police vehicles were not very helpful. the squad car on brunswick drove up alongside the ride and then squeezed some riders over to the side, meanwhile blinding us with her emergency lights. i'm not sure why, as there were no cars about anyway.

While they may have been trying to enforce their idea of safety, if they were smart they would have spoken to some experienced critical massers before they started giving orders. There is a well established way to have a fun and safe ride, and these cops don't quite understand it. I don't mind at all having the bike cops help out, but their arrogance (assuming that they always know best, and don't want to listen to anyone else) and tendency to sometimes bark orders and make threats rather than engage in dialogue was unhelpful at best.

Sunday, October 28, 2007 6:57:00 pm  

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