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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Do you ride in Mass?

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I had the pleasure of meeting a graduate student from York this week who is researching Critical Mass, and he wants to know: Have YOU ever participated in critical mass Toronto?

He is conducting a survey and would like your input. The survey is part of a case study and is completely anonymous and confidential. If you can spare three to five minutes….

If you would like more information about the research, please contact Andrew Bieler at

See you this Friday! Spadina and Bloor, 6pm.



  1. At times I don’t do “Mass” as there are too many dorks on bikes during the course of the month. Today there weren’t “too”, but three, the worst being one guy who passed so close I felt him brush my already challenged left arm on Spadina. So once I caught up with him, we exchanged pleasantries, and the nice part was having a Chinese guy catch up with me to offer his support… So as nice as “mass” can be, I can’t justify my breaking the law for three idiots in one day. (One other guy coming the wrong way on busy Bloor; the other was biking on a sidewalk at College/Bay and came around the corner on two wheels at relative speed with quite a few peds)

  2. It’s funny: when there are only a few cyclists we are lone soldiers fighting a tough battle (as was my time as a cyclist in Guelph). But when there are throngs of cyclists we almost become traffic to each other. The key difference is that cycles are clean, take up so little space, and you can talk to each other as you ride.
    Three bad cyclists in one day is still a bad thing, but three bad motorists could be fatal (and smoggy).
    The more the merrier!

  3. Sure do. Mass is a welcome break from the daily battle for road space. And I get to catch with so many great people I don’t see every day.

    Happy Friday!

    Hamish, Thank you for all you do to make cycling better in Toronto and I am sorry people don’t respect you as they should when they pass. I wish everyone, on two wheels or four, were as considerate as you.

  4. I don’t ride Mass so this is a question of ignorance: what does “Chinese” have to do with anything in Hamish’s statement “the nice part was having a Chinese guy catch up with me…”?

  5. to Clara – often we active biketypes are white bread but cyclists aren’t.
    Thanks for the tx tino – it’s not just me of course, it’s a big cast of folks, yourself included. It’s also just normal peds that deserve respect too, and a bike guy running into a senior creates trouble.

  6. I’m all for bike rights, but I am slightly confused by the apparent hypocrisy of Mass: breaking traffic laws and impeding pedestrians to protest against drivers who do the same to bikes.

    The first time I encountered Mass I was on foot, in a pedestrian area near the Eaton Center, when I was surrounded by hundreds of cyclists riding on the sidewalk, impeding my progress, some passing dangerously close to me. Aren’t sidewalks for pedestrians? Isn’t riding a bicyle on the sidewalk illegal? Odd.

    The second time I ran into Mass on Queen West I watched while several cyclists dismounted to block an intersection, and kept it blocked for a good 5-10 minutes while the rest sailed through against several red light cycles. Doesn’t a red light mean “stop” for all vehicles, including bikes?

    Drivers, cyclists, pedestrians: everyone follow the damn laws. Stop on red. That’s all I ask. Anything else is pure hypocrisy.

  7. Went once, never will again. Too angry. I don’t ride angry as a default, only acutely. It was not a fun ride, too many chips on shoulders all together.

  8. People who are knocking the Mass should probably come out again. It changes month to month, and especially year to year – while I haven’t been for a few months, it was much different in tone then than it was a couple of years ago. Much less aggro. (It may have something to do with the fact that we no longer have a police chief with a personal grudge against CM. When the cops aren’t actively looking for ways to get people in trouble, things seem to be much calmer – there’s less for people with chippy shoulders to react to.)

    I’ve never seen riding on the sidewalk at all the masses I’ve been, so I would say it’s the exception rather than the rule. And personally I hope the Eaton’s Centre thing dies an ignoble death.

    As for corking intersections, sometimes it happens, and sometimes people stop at lights. Depends on who’s at the mass, really. A mass is many things at the same time, and to some folks – usually including myself – a parade is one of those things. Parades don’t stop at lights. The corkers make sure it isn’t just people sailing headlong in to traffic – and in some cases it’s actually safer to have the whole group get through than have them blocking the turning lane and dealing with angry motorists trying to inch up from behind.

    It may be occasionally inconvenient for motorists, but then motorists are pretty much inconvenient for everyone else.

    But the tone of any mass is set by its participants. So come on out and talk with people about it.

  9. Smitty> My experience was circa 2001, so it’s good to know it isn’t always like that.

    Still, not my thing.

  10. I hate crowds. I often wonder why ppl bitch about cycling in Toronto: there are thousands of empty alley ways and side streets throughout Toronto that are much more enjoyable bicycling around. But honestly, I never bike anymore–the older you get, the more silly it seems to put your life on the line just over some silly issues.

    I’d rather drive a Hummer.:)

  11. D Hays: You do realize that those “silly issues” are our collective health and ability to breathe air that is not polluted? I would tend not to call smog a silly issue.

    By driving a Hummer you are putting more people’s lives on the line than if you ride your bike.

  12. Also, I (and I imagine others) don’t ride a bicycle instead of a car (or hummer) because of “issues”; I ride a bicycle primarily because it’s the most convenient mode of transportation I have access to. i.e., i could never afford a car and it would be annoying as hell to have one, especially in the city, and it’s not as fun and “versatile”, if you will, as a bicycle, i don’t need to go huge distances regularly, etc.

    i mean, it’s not like all cyclists would be driving if it weren’t for environmental issues

  13. I see critical mass as a bicycle parade. it’s very much fun, judging from the one time I’ve been. PG, I don’t think the catalyst of critical mass is the fact that cars misbehave. i don’t think critical mass has a thesis; as far as i know, it’s not a protest of some kind as much as it is just for fun.

    plus, i don’t think it’s that big a deal if some cars and pedestrians are inconvenienced once a month because of this. is everyone in the city in that much of a rush that they’re infuriated by having to wait a minute?

  14. Hummer’s keep people in N.A. employed; most bicycles are made in China. So Hummer’s are actually better for the environment–shipping bikes from China to sparsely populated Canada–not exactly environmentally sound.

    Now I said I’d rather drive a Hummer than a bicycle. The truth is I would “ride” neither; I prefer Land Rover’s.

    If you want to live healthy–most smog in Toronto is not from cars, but from heavy industry in Ohio and the GTA–why not live out in the woods?

  15. more dhaysed/dazed commenting eh?

    the feel of the CM rides have changed over the years and yes, they were pretty in your face and angry at times both with the motorists, possible cop/tickets, and the multiple ills of autocracy. The feel of it has been helped a lot by Trumpet Man – it’s far more festive and the trumpet pierces through the noise.
    It is helpful if someone organizes outreach eg. signs, paper for peds and motorists, and it also makes it more of a political thing (in my view)
    Hope it went well enough tonight.

  16. A quick report for the record:
    Close to 300 rode. I counted them myself.
    It was a lovely ride, warm smiles and sweet sun.
    Nice to see chief cycling planner Dan Egan along for the ride as well. People waved to pedestrians and wished them a Happy Friday. There were riders of all ages. Micheal Johnson played his trumpet and people hummed along. For an hour or so I rode through the streets of Toronto in peace with many of best friends.

  17. I often ponder why cyclists don’t ride critical mass… but always find it a futile exercise. thank god for graduate students.

    Agreed. Last Friday was a splendid ride indeed…