The Hour, September 21, 2006, p. 6. Cyclists Won't Roll Over

Aimée van Drimmelen
Every cyclist knows the road can be a dangerous place, but many aren't willing to accept it. On Sept. 29, Montreal cyclists and their supporters will participate in Critical Mass, a monthly demonstration where bikers fill the streets to demand respect and safe passage on all roads (while forcing cars and trucks to slow down in their wake, for a change). A big turnout is expected, despite the damper put on last month's beach-themed ride when two participants were arrested by Montreal police on Ste-Catherine Street.

One participant, Cathy (who doesn't want her last name used), noticed a friend was missing shortly after police "yelled things" at them out of their car. Cathy turned back to find her being forced into the back of a police car after refusing to identify herself. She had been caught passing out information flyers to pedestrians and drivers. A scuffle ensued when two other riders tried to help her, only to be arrested or ticketed themselves.

"We have hundreds of protests and demonstrations every year, and the vast majority of the time everything goes very well," says Olivier Lapointe of the Montreal police. "They have the right to demonstrate, but we had to make arrests because we saw infractions." Infractions also included biking the wrong way up a one-way street and blocking traffic, says Lapointe.

According to numerous eyewitnesses, however, police actions were excessively aggressive, causing emotional reactions from participants and onlookers. "I think it's important to focus

on the positive side of Critical Mass, but I think this particular ride was completely ruined by the police and that's something to talk about," says Cathy. "Sometimes cops just force things in a way that they know will cause us to resist because they're mistreating people. Obviously people are going to stand up for their friends and this turns things into an awful mess that never had to happen."

A cyclist "die-in" to celebrate Car-Free Day will take place tomorrow, Sept. 22, in Phillips Square at 5 p.m. (Ste-Catherine and Union). The next Critical Mass ride takes place Sept. 29, starting at Phillips Square at 5:30 p.m. For information, visit