Critical Mass has been going on in Vancouver for a long time. As a political tool promoting the agenda of cyclists, there's debate about whether it's effective. But over the years the event has remained the same: cyclists meet each month at a certain date and time, then go on ride without a predetermined route.
Things haven't changed, yet this week the establishment began demanding that Critical Mass follow a predetermined route and, because their demands haven't been met, this month's Critical Mass is being treated in both of Vancouver's daily papers as a crisis that must be dealt with—a "critical mass of civil disobedience" in the words of the Vancouver Police Department's Rick McKenna.
There are many large events in Vancouver that disrupt traffic: the Celebration of Lights, sporting events, etc. So why is an event that has happened every month for more than a decade now being portrayed as an impending crisis? Why is Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson suddenly "pissed off" that Critical Mass won't deviate from the model used by hundreds of other similar rides in the world?
The answer is fairly obvious. Critical Mass occurs on the last Friday of every month. In February 2010 it will occur on the 26th, two days before the closing date of the Olympics on February 28. This is likely why there's a sudden change of attitude on the part of local powers-that-be.
If the concern about Critical Mass is related to the 2010 Olympics, then why aren't the media and Robertson being up front about it? Why isn't this part of their argument?
Those arguing against Critical Mass are trying to push the notion that the event disrupts others and deprives them of their rights. If they admitted that their true concern with Critical Mass is related to the 2010 Olympics, they'd have to give up this argument because the disruption created by the 2010 Olympics will, in comparison, dwarf disruption related to Critical Mass.