Momentum magazine has an admirably thoughtful report on Vancouver’s first Critical Manners ride, which was a couple of weeks ago.  It’s by Michael T. Schmitt, who (I’m guessing) is a social psychologist at SFU doing an enthnography of Critical Mass.  I’ll resist the temptation to talk about every interesting detail, because there are way too many.  You should read Schmitt’s whole piece, and I’ll just highlight one point:

[W]ith the existing laws and infrastructure, cycling to maximize safety is not the same as either following the letter of the law or staying on the far right.

We were safer riding as a group, but we still weren’t as safe as Critical Mass. One rider said, “Although I took my son on Critical Mass at quite a young age–I would NOT have taken him on Critical Manners as it would not have been safe enough for him. The Critical Manners ride is only for confident cyclists.”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen this point made better.  Because our laws and roads are so car-centric, cyclists sometimes need to bend the letter of the law for the sake of their own safety.  Of course, the point isn’t to resign ourselves to cyclists breaking the law to stay safe.  The point is to figure out how to build better infrastructure for bikes, so cyclists can stay safe while following the rules of the road.

Relatedly, here’s Eric Mang at City Caucus making a powerful case for bike lanes that are physucally separated from car traffic.