Robertson used Critical Mass for political gain, says Sun

The Vancouver Sun has tracked down a photo of then NDP MLA Gregor Robertson (far right) as he and other cyclists led a protest to shut down city streets and cause traffic chaos. Photograph by: Flickr account "Brian of Vancouver", (

As predicted by the Vancouver Police Department earlier this week, many of the roads in Vancouver were a "critical mess" this evening as the Critical Mass cyclists made their way throughout the city in "protest." This evening the Vancouver Sun reports that despite his lame attempt at "tough talk" with the Critical Mass protestors, Mayor Robertson had previously appealed directly to them to help him get elected last Fall.

The Sun has obtained a photo of the Mayor actively participating in the Critical Mass protest from a Flickr account and has posted it on their website (see above). He did not participate in the protest this evening as he said he was "pissed off" that the organizers (whoever they are??) hadn’t provided him with a street map of where they were going protest.

The Sun also obtained a transcript of Robertson’s speech to the group whereby he appeals to the Critical Mass cyclists to help support his nomination to become the Vision Vancouver leader.

Here is the transcript of Robertson’s speech as posted by the Sun:

I’m hoping to be the next Mayor of Vancouver. I would describe myself in addition to being a so-called politician, as being a hardcore cyclist.

I think it’s about time Vancouver became the most bicycle-friendly city in North America, the first step to do that is to have dedicated bike lanes, without cars on them, all over the city.

This is part of my plan to introduce in to City Hall of Vancouver, that is if I can get myself elected, I would love to have your help in doing so. If you feel like getting political you can support me in the Vision Vancouver nomination race, and that election is on June the 15th. You’ve gotta be a member of Vision by May the 15th. If you want to do that, there are people with clipboards around here.

I look forward to serving you as Mayor and making sure this city turns itself around and becomes a bicycle capitol of Canada.

It goes without saying that the reaction to this evening’s protest has been heavily dominated by people upset with the traffic chaos the group inflict on Vancouverites every month. Here is a sampling from the Sun’s site:

I hope every Vancouverite who had to put up with all of this nonsense because of our weak Mayor remembers it when it is time to go to the polls. Gregor out !! Gregor out !! – Jeff

There is nothing wrong with a once a month bike ride but have a consideration for the heavy traffic jam in the downtown core. Not everyone have the free time like the cyclists. If anyone choose to do it on a Friday, they can always find a more remote place. Will it be a shock to everyone if one day a driver goes berserk and ramps the bikers down? So far, the majority of people are fed up with these behaviour but nothing is done. – Ted

Gregor is mayor because there is no-one more competent. This is unfortunate but true. Someone needs to step up to the middle instead of us swinging left-to-right all of the time. It’s either developer’s buddy or treehugging hippie in this town. Why can’t we have "common-sense"? – dbvan

He should be taken to court. It is quite obvious that he has abused his power as Mayor in which case a Judicial Review and proceedings for abuse of public office are approriate. – Ken

Gregor, you are on a roll. You might as well legalize drugs while you are at it too. Let’s make Vancouver a real Green City. A joint in every home! Go Gregor! – Legalize It

Gregor Robertson is just all over the place. I can’t figure this guy out. On one hand he’s trying to seem like a real activist green Mayor, but lets it slip to the Vancouver Sun in this morning’s paper that he’s "pissed off" with Critical Mass. Yet, here he is in this video, apparently very supportive of this disruptive, confrontational cyclists-vs-motorists protest. I guess that was convenient when he was just trying to win the enviro vote. Or maybe this rookie Mayor who had stars in his eyes before being elected is finally realizing how tough it is to balance the very real and legitimate needs of MULTIPLE modes of transportation in this City… that means bicycles, pedestrians *and* cars. Not too impressed with Gregor Robertson as mayor so far. He comes across as more like a puppet for other interests than someone who really has a grip on what needs to be done in this city. – Vancouver Voter

Won’t be voting for Gregor ever again…….this is the LAST straw….first the homeless shelter mess, then the Burrard bridge nonsense, then the Olympic Village fiasco……and now THIS??? – Kevin H

Is the mayor of Vancouver also breaking traffic rules and sitting on top of cars that are obeying the law, like other participants in this protest. While protests may be good they must obey the law, otherwise there is no end to what protestors could do to get some attention. – Law abiding person

Good for him for saying he wanted the vote from this group, getting the vote, and continuing to listen to their efforts. This is how democracy works. This is why it’s important to vote and to work to get the out the vote. – Spandex

the mayor is such a joke. – mark

Funny thing, he had no trouble finding the organizers of this thing last year when he wanted their votes, now he’s claiming they’re ‘so hard to track down’? BS! He’s a fraud. No wonder he didn’t shut this thing down, they’re his peeps! – GR

So what ? Why are you trying so hard to polarize people over a once a month bike ride ? Seriously all the reporting on this is unbelievable. Wow, Gregor Robinson likes cycling. I think it would a lot stranger if one didn’t like cycling. And isn’t it a good thing to have hundreds of people – young, old, children, grandparents – spending an afternoon cruising around their city together ? It’s one day of every month. ONE DAY. And I drive too by the way. Sheesh. Enough, go and have a great long weekend somewhere ! – johann

Why isn’t the mayor riding with the protesters tonight? If they were good enough to ride with last year when he wanted to get elected, why not now? – Truthy

I will never vote for Robertson, and I really hope he gets voted out next time around. – never again

Is this meant to be a criticism of Mayor Robertson? Sounds more to me like this is evidence of his political integrity – he made a promise to gain votes and, surprise, he actually kept that promise by getting a dedicated bike lane on the Burrard Bridge. I understand that the Critical Mass rides are a major inconvenience to a lot of people, but so are may other major city events such as parades, street festivals, and even the traffic on Canucks game nights. If people would really like to see cyclists off the streets, then Mayor Robertson and Critical Mass and any other cycling proponents need to keep sustainable transit on the front of the public’s agenda and get bike-dedicated routes all over the Lower Mainland. Shame on the Sun to try to smudge the Mayor’s reputation with this "scandalous" video. Lately your columns have been very bike negative. Way to try to set back the progress this city is making and invite more conflict. I am truly disappointed. Keep up the great work, Mayor Robertson. You are a great role model and the type of leader that Metro Vancouver needs. – what’s the point

And so on…and so on…the blogosphere is heating up faster tonight than Vancouver’s steamy air temperature! When you combine Robertson’s Critical Mass PR blunder with his recent musings about tearing up tickets issued to people who violated the law in the Downtown Eastside, he is no doubt ready to take a few weeks off for the summer. Have a great long weekend everyone!

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  • Ken Simpson

    Gregor’s certainly not the only city politician who has participated in Critical Mass rides. IIRC, the Georgia Straight reported about six of the candidates in last November’s election riding their way to votes – including Peter Ladner and the sole NPA survivor, Suzanne Anton.

  • EJ

    Who cares if a bunch of failed politicians and one oppositin councillor participated in CM at some point in the past. How is that relevant to Gregor and the info in this post? He’s now the mayor and should be held accountable for his actions. Is Peter Ladner even on council anymore? Does Gregor support or oppose CM?


    all the critical mass riders should be shot on the spot

  • GR

    Hello Citizens of Vancouver,
    In an effort to avoid the bureaucracy that city hall is forced to deal with on a daily basis, using the most commonly used method of communication in this modern world seems most appropriate. I’d hate to be accused of being a technological dinosaur so I am taking this unusual and most likely one time step at contacting the people of my city directly.
    With the 2010 Olympics approaching fast I see that the issue of the monthly Critical Mass ride is becoming apparent. Currently Critical Mass does not have the legal authorization to perform a parade (no parade permit) and therefore must ignore the legal rules of the road to conduct their celebration.
    I currently support this and turn a blind eye to cyclists running red lights and stop signs, as well as their blocking of busy intersections at rush hour on Fridays. We are a city of laws, but in this case an exception is made. Doing this has set a precendent and has become public policy.
    To give a clear idea of your feelings regarding this, please write and explain exactly why you feel that Critical Mass is obstructing your day, and what your voting choice will be come the next election for the office of Mayor and other offices.
    Please email the Mayor of Vancouver’s office, Gregor Robertson as well as all of your city councillers. Feel free to also email Kash Heed, your Minister of Public Safety and your Chief of Police as you see fit.
    Do not email regarding the Burrard bike lane. I have decided that it is a success.
    Thankyou for your time.