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What unites Critical Mass and the Olympics?

One event has a pedal-powered mandate and zero budget. The other is a $6 billion winter sports spectacle. Yet Friday’s Critical Mass ride and the 2010 Olympics may share some things in common.

“What I’ve seen in Vancouver in the last couple weeks is a lot of people reclaiming the streets and having fun,” said Amy Walker, the co-publisher of Momentum Magazine. “I think Critical Mass fits in really well with that.”

The monthly bike ride through Vancouver streets has attracted anywhere from dozens to thousands of cyclists over the years.

There’s no core leadership. Some participants maintain a website and send email announcements.

Friday’s ride departs at 6pm from the Vancouver Art Gallery. No doubt some riders will use the event to protest the Olympics, Walker said. Many will come just to have fun.

Last summer, Vancouver police and Mayor Gregor Robertson warned of potential mayhem during the July ride. None materialized.

Neither Walker nor local police expect anything wayward tomorrow.

“Right now the city is in the throes of a big street party,” Walker said. “That actually is fairly symbiotic with Critical Mass.”

The Vancouver Police Department has met recently with several organizers. Despite the certainty of big traffic snarls as cyclists clog downtown streets, police aren’t worried.

“The city of Vancouver has over 175 protests a year,” VPD spokesperson Lindsey Houghton said. “We reach out to everyone who wants to do them. We will have a presence to make sure everyone is safe.”

In the past, Mayor Robertson has taken part in the ride. Will he strap on his skid-lid tomorrow?

"Nope he won't be in it," read a reply from his office.

Geoff Dembicki reports for the Tyee.

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