This April, about 200 cyclists from Squamish BC took part in a community-organized 7 km “slow ride” to remind motorists of the dangers of speeding. A protest movement that started in Europe ten years ago, “slow rides” are gaining popularity across Canada and the US.
A “really bad commute” one day last year convinced Paul Demers to organize the Squamish event. “Critical-mass rides can be very effective ways of raising awareness and useful tools for putting pressure on politicians”, says Mr. Demers. Many motorists don’t realize that bicycles are legitimate vehicles sharing the same rules and responsibilities as cars. Organized “slow rides” promote road safety, health and fitness and a greener mode of transportation.
If drivers in your area are speeding and making the road unsafe for cyclists maybe it’s time to organize a “slow ride” in your community. How do you do this? Paul Demers first talked to the local RCMP sergeant who recommended a police escort to ensure safety, and then walked him through the steps of organizing the ride. “He requested that I let local politicians know about the event, and I informed the mayor and a councillor of the plan. I’m happy to say that we had two municipal councillors participate, and a very positive response from the local politicians.”
We’ve all got stories of close calls with motor vehicles. Don’t wait until you have a collision with a car. Talk to your local politicians and get organized now. Cyclists can band together to raise awareness and make roads safer and more bicycle-friendly for everyone. They’ve done this in Copenhagen, Denmark where bicycles are an integrated part of city traffic [see a video below]. We can do that here too but it takes political will. Get involved. Lobby your local and provincial governments for designated bike lanes on streets and highways, bike paths in parks and bike racks throughout your city. Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease!
– Laurel-Lea Shannon
© 2008 Laurel-Lea Shannon
For more information Google “critical mass bike rides”.