Archive for June, 2015


We’re closed for Canada Day

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

The AMS Bike Co-op and the Bike Kitchen will be closed on Wednesday, July 1 for Canada Day. Regular hours will resume on Thursday. Have a happy Canada Day!

 


 

Bike Kitchen open at 12pm on Thursday

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

On Thursday, June 25, the Bike Kitchen will be open from 12 pm to 6pm in order to facilitate our staff meeting. Regular hours from 10am to 6pm will resume on Friday. Thank you for your understanding!

 


 

What’s this ‘Critical Mass’ thing all about?

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Years ago, as a relatively newbie cyclist with few two-wheeled friends in Victoria, I stumbled across a facebook event that seemed to live on the fringes of alternative culture; if nothing else, “Midnight Critical Mass” sounded like an interesting date night. We arrived at city hall that evening to find a few stragglers, of varying ages and eclectically cultured, loitering around and discussing routes as they waited for the hour. I don’t know what we had expected to find, but we were certainly disappointed that this advertised “mass” intended on taking over the streets, consisted of only a few individuals. I don’t recall much about the ride, only my own youthful social awkwardness and the embarrassment of a failed date.

Needless to say, I was always skeptical of Critical Masses I heard about through the years. Even after moving to Vancouver, where a metropolitan population surely promised better turn-outs, I assumed Critical Mass was a relic of the 90’s, well past it’s prime with just handful of keeners carrying on the tradition out of nostalgia.

I now admit my ignorance.

My first impression of a sorry off-shoot aside, Critical Mass is alive and well, and this Friday, the 26th, being the last Friday of Bike Month and the end of Velopalooza, promises to be the biggest ride of the year. Hundreds, if not thousands of bike-riding, skateboarding and roller-blading citizens will take to the Vancouver streets.

But first, let’s rewind. What is Critical Mass, how did it begin, and what is it all about?

Critical Mass started in San Fransisco in 1992, where cyclists would convene on the last Friday of every month to “take over” the streets, thus conveying the message “We are not blocking traffic, we are traffic!” The leaderless ride was never associated with any particular organization or political message, and many debate on the “purpose” of the ride, but it has nonetheless grown into a worldwide phenomenon. Hundreds of cities around the world uphold the tradition each month, often with dozens of riders, and sometimes with tens of thousands. For example in 2008, Budapest saw approximately 80,000 cyclists take to the streets.

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Budapest Critical Mass, 2008. Image source: Reuters

The ambiguity of the ride’s purpose and it’s leaderless structure is inherently part of its design. Participants are encouraged to interpret its meaning for themselves, defend their ideas, and come with their own route suggestions. As Zack Furness argues in Cycling Philosophy for Everyone (2010):

Xerocracy, or ‘rule through photocopying,’ is the dominant paradigm of Critical Mass and it rests on the premise that anyone can (and should), print, photocopy, and solicit media that advocate and/or explain the ride…. Xerocracy is thus not only a means to shape participant and public perceptions about bicycle transportation (through facts, statistics, images and personal narratives), it is also a way for cyclists to actively ‘channel the energy and focus of the mass’ as they see fit.

The rides celebrate not only cycling, but the reclamation of public space. Part bike party and part demonstration, the ride has stirred up it’s share of controversy over the years. Particularly, many drivers take issue with the mass of cyclists “blocking” the street during rush hour. Aggression, on the part of both angry drivers and hot headed cyclists, has marred rides in the past. Many people particularly take issue with the practice of “corking,” whereby volunteers position themselves in intersections to block traffic until the entire mass has ridden through, regardless of the lights having turned. Arguably, corking is not designed to aggravate drivers so much as improve safety by keeping the mass together and moving relatively quickly.

That being said, the inconvenience of hundreds, if not thousands of cyclists using a city’s busiest streets is the very crux of it’s inevitable message. While clogging the streets is a rather simple way to demonstrate a lack of bike infrastructure, and stimulate cultural rhetoric, the message should not necessarily be confused as vehemently anti-car, but rather pro-bike. In the Tyee, Andrew Boyd argues that Critical Mass is a form of ‘prefigurative action,‘ a form of direct action whereby riders “prefigure future cities in which bicycles actually hold their own as traffic.”

Most importantly, the ride is a celebration and important reminder for cyclists that they are not alone, and befits the slogan “Ride Daily, Celebrate Monthly.” As Velopalooza describes on their website:

The ride is a celebration, and an alcohol/drug free event. Take absolute responsibility for your actions and show motorists a better way to travel. A way which is more equitable, efficient, fun and socially responsible than the car. There’s no need to be unfriendly or argue with motorists — our sheer numbers tell the story. Look after each other, speak up, and ride with confidence.

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Vancouver’s Critical Mass. Photo by David Nidderie via Your BC: The Tyee’s Photo Pool

June’s Critical Mass will meet at the Vancouver Art Gallery at 5pm, with wheels rolling at 6pm. “Costumes and decorated bicycles, trailers, signs, flags, noisemakers, gettoblasters, sound systems, drums, and wildly modified bicycles are all highly encouraged!” And if you can’t make it this month, you can be sure it will return next month, and every last Friday thereafter, rain or shine.

For more information, check out the Vancouver Critical Mass blog or the facebook group. Not in Vancouver? Find a ride near you.

References:

Agurruza, J., & Austin, M. (2010). Cycling: Philosophy for everyone : A philosophical tour de force. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

Bicycle Critical Mass Vancouver Last Friday Every Month. (2014, May 28). Retrieved June 24, 2015, from http://myvancity.ca/2014/05/28/bicycle-critical-mass-vancouver-last-friday-every-month/
Boyd, A. (2015, January 5). Beautiful Trouble: Make a Mini Utopia. The Tyee. Retrieved June 24, 2015, from http://thetyee.ca/Culture/2015/01/05/Mini-Utopia/

 


 

Cycling Resource Centres all Summer long

Monday, June 15th, 2015

The AMS Bike Co-op will be out and about in the sunshine conducting many Cycling Resource Centres this Summer where we set up tent and offer free tune-ups, bike maps, resources and advice.

We will be at the Kitsilano Farmer’s Market every second Sunday, Granville Island Farmer’s Market on select Thursdays and the Old Barn Community Centre on several Saturdays. We will also be attending several events including East Side Pride and Pride Festival at Sunset Beach. Check out our calendar for a full list of our whereabouts and events.

 


 

Trip Report: Dionisio Park on Galiano Island

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

By Kristina Knappett

Recently, my partner and I decided to take a cycle tour to Galiano Island. This was to be his first bike camping trip, so I chose Dionisio Park on Galiano after a recommendation from a friend, thinking it would be quick, fairly easy and accessible. He was somewhat indifferent, despite my assurances that bike touring was THE best-thing-ever-thought-of-since-ever, so I planned the trip, renting him panniers from the Bike Co-op.

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Ok. Perhaps “planned” is generous. True to form, we waited until midnight the night before to install his rack, pack camping supplies and food (the singular can of beans remaining in our cupboard) and double-check the ferry times.

The 5:30am start went off without a hitch, despite my protests to maybe cancel touring in the name of sleeping-in and pancakes. We caught the sky train and 620 bus out to the Tsawwassen ferry, Carson complaining that our bikes being tippy and difficult to park on anything under the weight of panniers was “the worst part about touring.”

It seemed we weren’t the only ones with the ingeniously original idea to bike on the Gulf Islands. The ferry walls were stacked with at least 100 bikes, from gear laden touring frames to ultra shiny carbon fibres.

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Our first stop was the Saturday Farmer’s market, just a 10 minute ride from the ferry. It was a delightfully Gulf Islands affair. And by that I mean you could expect to purchase everything from ancient grain bread to beeswax-shined power crystals to shun negative energy, all while watching a bow-tied, one-man ukulele band kick-line with tourists.

There was another group of 12 cycle tourists whom we conspired to beat to Dionisio, to snag the best camp spot.

The Provincial Park website for Dionisio Point Provincial Park will tell you that there is not bike or car access to Dionisio, because it is marine access only. This is not true. Allegedly, what they really mean is that due to a land dispute, they have gated the paved road leading into Dionisio. As a cyclist, the gate is simple to go around, and indeed the only other visitors in the park were cycle tourists. However, the confusing part is that the free map available on the ferry shows Bodega Beach Drive ending a long way from the park, while Porlier Pass Road appears to nearly take you right to your destination.

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Image Source: Galiano Island Realty

Cue the 5 hour detour.

We of course, sensibly, took Porlier Pass Road all the way to the end, stopping for groceries at Daystar Organic Market and enjoying the cliffs at Lovers Leap before reaching a trespassing sign which I promptly ignored, continuing on down the dirt road convinced we had arrived. It soon became apparent that not only were we trespassing, getting to the park would involve some serious bushwacking and was somewhat unfeasible. So back we turned, first experimenting down Devina Road before cycling all the way back to Cook Road hoping it would join up.

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It was around this point that Carson broke a spoke. With no spares nor bike shop on the island, he was forced to ride on it, shuddering up and down Galiano’s endless hills as his wheel became ever more out of true.

Cook Road seemed promising, and we soon found ourselves on a gravel road heading through an ecological reserve. The road continues on past where the map ends, and, if you obnoxiously ignore signs stating “no beach access,” “no trail,” you will soon find yourself deep in the heart of Galiano, where dirt roads pass quirky homemade dwellings, shaded under the thick forest canopy.foto

Alas, not bold enough to trespass straight through someone’s property, we were once again forced to turn back, knowing via google earth we were nearly 100m from our destination. Too stubborn to bike all the way back to Vineyard Way, we took our chances on an internet rumour that there was a walking path between the Ecological Reserve and Bodega Beach drive. Near a sign saying “Dionisio Park Marine Access Only” we found such a foot path and proceeded to push our road bikes up into the brush. After a wrong right turn we found ourselves bush wacking, or “bike wacking,” if you will, only to turn back and eventually find a smooth dirt road through the forest that popped out not far from the entrance to Dionisio Park.

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We didn’t beat the other cyclists.

Dionisio, after our 7 hour adventure, was a treat. Sandy beaches, forest trails and even a ship wreck to explore. There is a well pump for fresh water and outhouses.

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The way back took just 2 hours down Bodega Beach Drive, leaving time for pad thai at Wild1.

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Any hopes of taking the bus back from the ferry were squashed by the sight of 100 other cyclist vying for the 2 bike rack spots on the 620. Instead we rode to Ladner and watched bus after bus come by with full racks until finally another cycle-tourist convinced them to send a bus just for bikes.IMG_2785

5 hours of being lost, a broken spoke, countless hills, a few large bush wacking cuts and a bus adventure later, Carson maintains that the worst part of bike touring is when you have to park your bike.

 


 

Ride Report: Group Ride to Lynn Valley

Monday, June 1st, 2015

Every few weeks the Bike Co-op organizes a group ride, because what better way to enjoy cycling than with friends, new and old? Last Saturday we met at Science World and ventured to Lynn Valley Park. The 40km round trip took approximately 3 hours of riding, not including our stop for lunch.DSCN1512

DSCN1513Starting from Science World, we cycled through downtown and across the Lion’s Gate Bridge. The route followed mostly bike lanes and sharrows, with a few hilly bits as we got closer for a total elevation gain of 578m. 

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We stopped by the End of the Line general store for some snacks, before heading to the suspension bridge.
DSCN1522DSCN1519Though the rain held off, it was a chilly May day so hot lunch and coffee were a necessary treat at the Lynn Canyon Cafe.DSCN1523

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DSCN1530On the way back we followed side streets on the West side of the canyon, eventually connecting onto Mountain Hwy. After a brief unintentional-but-still-enjoyable detour, we crossed over the Ironworker’s Memorial Bridge and followed Adanac Street back towards town.
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