Monday, August 14, 2006

from the bike advocacy dept

This article was in today's Free Press. Lindsay is the shit. People may actually listen to him. They'd be stupid not to.

Positive cyclists group plans law-abiding rally
Say approach of Critical Mass is misguided

Mon Aug 14 2006

By Carol Sanders

ORGANIZERS of a mass bike ride this September say there will be no confrontations, violations or outlandish costumes -- just a bunch of helmeted cyclists out to show their support for better bicycling routes in the city.
"Our goal is trying to open communication in a positive way between cyclists and people on the streets," said Scot Miller, owner of Olympia Cycle and Ski.

"Tensions are high in this city," said the avid cyclist. "Our roads aren't widening and cycling's growing," said Miller. "We've got to figure something out, or it's only a matter of time before people start to get injured."

The Sept. 6 event is being organized by Miller and Lindsay Gauld, a bicycle courier in his late 50s and Olympic cyclist who competed in Munich in 1972.

He and Gauld are critical of Critical Mass, a movement that's held mass bike rallies in Winnipeg to promote cycling and demand respect for their right to be on the road.

"A lot of cyclists have concerns about a lack of bike lanes, but they're not being represented by Critical Mass," said Gauld. "I just think it's a little too confrontational to suit my ideas for how to accomplish anything," he said.

Participants in past Critical Mass rides have had run-ins with the police, complaining of police brutality. Law enforcement officials have complained some riders flagrantly flouted the law. Deliberately slowing down rush-hour traffic and generating negative publicity threatens to set cycling back in a city that needs more safe cycling routes, said Miller. The leaderless -- and therefore unaccountable -- Critical Mass movement has created an even bigger divide between cyclists and the public, he said.

"Their main focus is to take back the street," Miller said. "That small statement suggests a struggle, and it can't be that. You're on a 25-pound craft. You're always going to be eliminated," said the avid cyclist.

"We really feel it's the infrastructure -- as far as cyclists and motorists go -- that is the culprit here."

To improve the infrastructure, you need political will, said Gauld.

"I want to get the mayor on side," said the bike courier. "Maybe we'll finish (the ride) at the Goldeyes' stadium," Gauld said, referring to Mayor Sam Katz's connection to Winnipeg's baseball team. "I want to get some politicians involved," said Gauld.

"I've ridden my bike all over the world, and this city is not very good in terms of bike lanes or bike routes," Gauld said while oh his bike after stopping on Portage Avenue. "We've got lots of space -- there's no reason we can't do better and leave three and a half-feet for bikes."

The details of the ride aren't set yet -- like what to call it. Gauld suggests SPIN, an acronym for Strength and Power in Numbers. The ride will be held Wednesday, Sept. 6 around suppertime, said Miller. They're considering a route from Assiniboine Park to Wellington Crescent to downtown, and will apply for a permit from the city. All riders are welcome as long as they wear helmets and abide by the rules of the road, Miller said.

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