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Old 07-27-08, 09:56 PM   #1
closetbiker
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cop asks for CM response

I sent my email. Does this warrent a CM response?

It'd be interesting how he would handle it.

http://www.canada.com/theprovince/ne...7-12f3db41e065

Celebrate Critical Mass or crack down?

Some participants mean well, but many want to wage war with drivers

The Province

Published: Sunday, July 27, 2008

By the time you read this, Vancouver will have experienced another Critical Mass bicycle rally.
How many of you will have been in dustups with these characters is hard to say. Most of the cyclists showing up for Critical Mass rides are legitimate enthusiasts -- two-wheeled, earth-loving anti-carbonaros.

They hit the streets on the last Friday of each month, ostensibly to promote biking as a realistic form of transport. Cycling crowds as large as 3,000 gather at the downtown art gallery, then roll through downtown traffic en masse.

Intersections are blocked illegally, as a mile-long pack traverses city centre at peak inopportune moments. Typically, their leaders stop to ponder the meaning of it all atop the Lions Gate Bridge, holding riders still all the way back to the Park Drive overpass, while cars are made to idle in place behind.

That said, the group has no formal leadership, or none they'll admit to. No one to hold accountable for lack of permits or willful obstruction of traffic. No one to discuss the bizarre and confrontational behaviour seen on Critical Mass fringes.

Any number of these people drink or smoke dope as they roll along. Some ride naked. Others taunt frustrated motorists, swarming drivers stuck at crossings.

There are fistfights. Cars are damaged as bicycles scrape by on purpose, teaching "lessons" to those who dare voice an opinion about being forced to a stop.

Police escorts for such a debacle are seen by some as a bad idea. Lending legitimacy to confrontational groups is inadvisable, and assisting people in blocking bridge traffic is difficult to justify these days.
Think back to the recent freezing of the Ironworkers Memorial bridge, and how poorly that was received. How calmly would commuters accept another shut-down bridge, with no lives in danger -- just a crowd of cyclists with strong feelings?

Other options are just as vexing. Moving in for enforcement could cause a major stir. Some readers would applaud police action; others would curse us for failure to support the greening of the West Coast.
A general summer bicycle campaign is being considered, to deal with an epidemic reluctance to wear helmets. Bicyclists almost never stop for stop signs, and they blow downtown traffic lights as often as not.

I'll assume they know they're accountable to traffic law. Many don't have driver's licences, and perceive themselves to be immune to traffic fines, though the feeling is false. Unpaid fines are kept on record, to be discussed whenever a DL is applied for.

I don't want to be preachy. Even if I did, I'd admit to a certain flexibility when it comes to bicycles on the road. Nevertheless, having two wheelers turn on motorists sweeps notions of leniency off the table.

I'm in search of readership thought. Should these people be subjected to an intense enforcement campaign, with special attention to the violent fringe? Should they be pampered with a full motorcade escort?

It's not my decision to make, which may be a blessing. Drop me a line at the address below.

Sgt. Mark Tonner is a Vancouver police officer, whose column appears biweekly in Unwind. His opinions aren't necessarily those of the city's police department or board.

Mark may be contacted at marcuspt@shaw.ca.

Last edited by closetbiker; 07-27-08 at 10:00 PM.
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Old 07-27-08, 10:44 PM   #2
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I think he sensationalizes and validates fears instead of trying to find solutions.

Here would be an obvious solution, if you had repeated violent CM incidents in your town:

Organize a second monthly bike ride. Make it more fun than CM, with the same kind of freak-flag feel, but with a more controlled environment (planned route with better corking). Keep the police presence low, with organizers/volunteers recruited to keep the peace. Free donuts.
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Old 07-27-08, 10:54 PM   #3
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Yeah, I think the guy is a bit of a goof
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Old 07-27-08, 11:02 PM   #4
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Yeah, I think the guy is a bit of a goof
When I first read your post, I thought that the article was your response. I though, "Well, I can understand Closetbiker's point of view, but this does seem a little less of a rational/dispassionate argument than I usually expect from his posts" haha
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Old 07-28-08, 12:07 AM   #5
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Typically, their leaders stop to ponder the meaning of it all atop the Lions Gate Bridge, holding riders still all the way back to the Park Drive overpass, while cars are made to idle in place behind.
Duh. Wait until they stop on the bridge. Then they are cornered.
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Old 07-28-08, 07:05 AM   #6
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I think he sensationalizes and validates fears instead of trying to find solutions.


Keep the police presence low, with organizers/volunteers recruited to keep the peace. Free donuts.


Free donuts will guarantee a virtual police state!

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Old 07-28-08, 07:20 AM   #7
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"I'll assume they know they're accountable to traffic law. Many don't have driver's licences, and perceive themselves to be immune to traffic fines, though the feeling is false. Unpaid fines are kept on record, to be discussed whenever a DL is applied for."

That's it? Traffic fines up there mean nothing unless you apply for a license?


At least this guy is looking for input, instead of just cracking down.
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Old 07-28-08, 08:01 AM   #8
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I say crack down on the CM riders... hold them to the law. Then do exactly the same thing to motorists in the area. And make sure there is a crack down on all motorists violating laws... no excuses or margins...

I also think that if CM really wants to make an impact, they SHOULD ride in a fully legal manner... The only point CM riders make as scofflaws is that cyclists are scofflaws. SIGH.
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Old 07-28-08, 08:04 AM   #9
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IMO a law should be enacted that if you participate in a violent ride, your bike may be confiscated at police discretion. The bikes can then be auctioned off to fund pro-cycling solutions.
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Old 07-28-08, 08:13 AM   #10
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IMO a law should be enacted that if you participate in a violent ride, your bike may be confiscated at police discretion. The bikes can then be auctioned off to fund pro-cycling solutions.
OK, then the same should be true for motorists.... if a motorist does a close pass or rude honk or yells something from their car, rather then driving in a safe and responsible manner... he should lose his car. Fair enough.
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Old 07-28-08, 08:16 AM   #11
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OK, then the same should be true for motorists.... if a motorist does a close pass or rude honk or yells something from their car, rather then driving in a safe and responsible manner... he should lose his car. Fair enough.
Motorists can and do loose there cars for a variety of things. Vancouver just passed stricter laws for this iirc. Please note that I did not say "for passing too close or honking". Do not create a strawman. I clearly stated for violence etc. If a car assaults a cyclist with there vehicle, do you think that they should lose the auto? Furthermore there is not a loosely organized group of motorists out to get cyclist in the same manner. Do to your reply am I to assume that you support CM-style violence?
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Old 07-28-08, 08:22 AM   #12
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"I'll assume they know they're accountable to traffic law. Many don't have driver's licences, and perceive themselves to be immune to traffic fines, though the feeling is false. Unpaid fines are kept on record, to be discussed whenever a DL is applied for."

That's it? Traffic fines up there mean nothing unless you apply for a license?


At least this guy is looking for input, instead of just cracking down.

I think he's looking for popular approval to throw anyone in these rides into jail. I think he knows he's likely to get it by puting it in the paper the way he did. As far as I understand, the official police stance on these (rather tame) CM's is to let them be, but it look's like he's trying to stir the pot to enable a crackdown to be ordered from his superiors.

A couple of other things I found odd were, you don't need a driver's licence to receive a ticket and the ticket has nothing to do with receiving one (as far as I understand, I've emailed him to confirm this). A ticket on your bike is not tied into your driving record. It's possible that he's simply linking the licence with a positive ID so if you haven't paid a fine and you show up and identify yourself when applying for a licence, you've IDed yourself and are subject to paying the fine and they may not issue you a licence if you don't pay it (them). At any rate, he makes the issue as clear as mud.

As far as the claim many don't have licences, he has to be talking about a select group of individuals because about 80% of the entire population holds licences here. The only ones are those under the legal age, some of the elderly, a few teens straggeling past their eligible birthday, and the poor and disenfranchised. He's probably referring to the latter.

I also don't like it when he implies that the general cycling population (not the CM crowd - at least that's the way I took it) never stops for red lights and stop signs. It reads like he's just painting anyone on a bike as a law breaker and therefore justify his subliminal wish to throw everyone in jail
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Old 07-28-08, 08:35 AM   #13
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When I first read your post, I thought that the article was your response. I though, "Well, I can understand Closetbiker's point of view, but this does seem a little less of a rational/dispassionate argument than I usually expect from his posts" haha
I've yet to receive a reply to my email but I asked him if he was referring to the CM or general cyclists when writing that cyclists never stop for stop signs, that drivers regularly break traffic law and this is treated with a blind eye by police, how could he know many riders don't have licences because just about everybody in the general population does and it's not a requirement to carry ID when on a bike, and I find people refusing to wear helmets despite our law cuts through all ages, genders, and socio-economic classes as Interesting. (I find it a blanket rejection of that law)

As far as CM goes, I wrote, I'd never take part in it but I do understand why they do it and unless you ride in city traffic (without a uniform on) every day you'd never understand the laws that are broken by motorists to cyclists that encourage cyclists to take part in CM. I think the police should escort CM to discourage bad behavior both cyclists and motorists could get into. Seems like the air could be ripe for confrontation between the two. The police should act as peace keepers in their role as escorts.


I hope he replies, but I doubt he will.
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Old 07-28-08, 08:46 AM   #14
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Perhaps the police should simply show up to cm unmarked, ride with them, and arrest as problems arise?
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Old 07-28-08, 08:54 AM   #15
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Perhaps the police should simply show up to cm unmarked, ride with them, and arrest as problems arise?
let him know

marcuspt@shaw.ca
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Old 07-28-08, 09:14 AM   #16
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Perhaps the police should simply show up to cm unmarked, ride with them, and arrest as problems arise?
You mean fine and arrest as problems arise. Not every infraction is suitable to throw one behind bars for.

Not a bad suggestion in itself, but the officers assigned to enforce it must have an excellent knowledge of both the state and city bicycle laws, unless one wishes to have a mess such as the New York CM citations mentioned a while back.

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Old 07-28-08, 09:17 AM   #17
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You are correct, I mean fine as well. Perhaps even require offending cyclist to partake in advocacy programs such as cleaning MUP's, trails, helping teach younger generations about bicycles.
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Old 07-28-08, 10:04 AM   #18
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Motorists can and do loose there cars for a variety of things. Vancouver just passed stricter laws for this iirc. Please note that I did not say "for passing too close or honking". Do not create a strawman. I clearly stated for violence etc. If a car assaults a cyclist with there vehicle, do you think that they should lose the auto? Furthermore there is not a loosely organized group of motorists out to get cyclist in the same manner. Do to your reply am I to assume that you support CM-style violence?
No I do not support CM style violence... (as rare as it is in actuality... ) and neither do I support the 45,000 motorist based deaths each year. On top of that, few motorists even lose a license, much less a car for killing cyclists... just look at all the history here on BF. (do you need links?)

Frankly I think CM IS over the top... and that if a real Critical Mass is to be obtained, riders should ride in the most lawful manner possible. But I also want equality on the road... so for every motorist driving over the speed limit or running a stop, or killing a cyclist, I want equal justice.
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Old 07-28-08, 10:39 AM   #19
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And of course there is always this sort of CM behavior... SIGH...

http://gothamist.com/2008/07/28/cop_...lting_cycl.php

and on the flip side... this sort of cyclist behavior... http://www.vimeo.com/1409073?pg=embed&sec=1409073
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Old 07-28-08, 11:02 AM   #20
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I also don't like it when he implies that the general cycling population (not the CM crowd - at least that's the way I took it) never stops for red lights and stop signs. It reads like he's just painting anyone on a bike as a law breaker and therefore justify his subliminal wish to throw everyone in jail
Sorry but I ride all over this country (USA) about 10,000 miles so far this year, and I have seen exactly one rider stop for a stop sign/light. One. Bicycles don't stop for stop lights/signs. If you do see one stop, it is probably me.
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Old 07-28-08, 11:15 AM   #21
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Sorry but I ride all over this country (USA) about 10,000 miles so far this year, and I have seen exactly one rider stop for a stop sign/light. One. Bicycles don't stop for stop lights/signs. If you do see one stop, it is probably me.
well, I ride all over this city this cop is writing about (and have done so for decades) and although I will not speculate what exactly happens in our CM rides (I've never been at one but I'm sure they disregard all traffic law), I will say that I rarely see cyclists run reds as a matter of normal course here. They sometimes do run reds, (just as drivers do) but I just think this cop is grabbing at anything to justify bringing cyclists down.

It reminds me of a motorist complaining to me one day about all the cyclists who pass on the right and I had to remind him that motorists do it too, just as they speed, tailgate, pass unsafely etc., etc.

I'm all for strict traffic enforcement. Pull over every bozo when they're wrong. I'd love it. We'd get rid of 75% of the cars on the road.
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Old 07-28-08, 11:26 AM   #22
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Sorry but I ride all over this country (USA) about 10,000 miles so far this year, and I have seen exactly one rider stop for a stop sign/light. One. Bicycles don't stop for stop lights/signs. If you do see one stop, it is probably me.
I've seen hundreds and hundreds stop. Our data is purely anecdotal.

In general, I see most cyclists stop for red lights, and treat stop signs as yield signs. I probably see between 20 and a hundred cyclists a day.

In San Diego, most of the cyclists I saw behaved the same way, although I saw fewer cyclists in a day.

In a rural area with minimal, I would expect most cyclists to treat stop lights and stop signs as yield signs. I probably would.
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Old 07-28-08, 12:09 PM   #23
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I obey all of the road laws when cycling and at least where I live other cyclists generally obey and stop at lights/signs as well. The only major problems here are morons riding on the wrong side of the road, kids riding nilly willy like dimwits, no helmets, and quite a lot of sidewalk riding rather than getting on the road.
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Old 07-28-08, 01:18 PM   #24
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I've seen hundreds and hundreds stop. Our data is purely anecdotal.

In general, I see most cyclists stop for red lights, and treat stop signs as yield signs. I probably see between 20 and a hundred cyclists a day.

In San Diego, most of the cyclists I saw behaved the same way, although I saw fewer cyclists in a day.

In a rural area with minimal, I would expect most cyclists to treat stop lights and stop signs as yield signs. I probably would.
Still in San Diego... and the 4 cyclists I saw this morning were all stopped at lights and were actually cycling in a very vehicular manner. One female was even stopped at a left turn that I happen to know will not ever sense her (in my neighborhood)... when she eventually goes and the light is still red, will motorists know that she waited to see if the light will change or will they just assume she is a scofflaw cyclist?
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Old 07-28-08, 01:22 PM   #25
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when she eventually goes and the light is still red, will motorists know that she waited to see if the light will change or will they just assume she is a scofflaw cyclist?
Who is going to notice the LT signal was red when she goes? (assuming she does when the thru is green)

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