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2010 Olympics

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Cycling Madness

Blog posts are the work of individual contributors, reflecting their thoughts, opinions and research.
Cycling Madness

2010 Olympics

The Public Transit website for Vancouver and area suggests that people should take up walking or cycling during the Olympic Games. I don’t mind at all, and although the attempt at “greening” the Games is contradicted by the jet streams from military aircraft and the massive road and transit construction projects, I don’t mind the idea of taking more traffic off the road and having more people on bicycles. In this regard, you think that getting around by bicycle would be facilitated by VANOC and other organizers in charge of transportation. In my most recent experience, this has not been the case.

I rode into the downtown on the West Coast Express this morning, the train that runs strictly on commuter hours on the north shore of the Fraser River between downtown Vancouver and Mission. I was even presently surprised to see that for the days following February 12, the train would run back and forth on longer hours. When I arrived into town bearing quite a heavy load for a cyclist, I boarded a skytrain to take me to my destination so that I could relieve myself of some of my gear (alot of food for the next few days).

The train was surprisingly not very crowded for the hyped-up fear about backlogged skytrains and buses. However, I was going against typical commuter traffic and it is a couple of days before the opening ceremonies. I made it to the Main Street station with one stop to go and Transit Police boarded the train and asked me to leave specifying that bikes weren’t allowed on the trains during the Olympics. I politely appealed that not only was I not participating in the Olympics, but I had quite a heavy load, the train was relatively empty, and I only had one stop to go. Determined to eject me from the train, he held the door open as it tried to close repeatedly, holding up my fellow passengers as I gathered my gear. He exited and had a good laugh with the half dozen or so cops patrolling the platform. These cops were clearly not VPD and most certainly from out of town. I swore at them as I left, clearly annoyed that they were amused at disrupting my hitherto efficient morning.

I then attempted to proceed to my alternate destination around the Main and Hastings corridor. I am usually pretty good with navigation and maps but the area around the Science World is an absolute mess. There was a mass confusion of orange pylons and makeshift signs, a sea of urine in the form of yellow-coated police, accompanied by seas of blue-clad Olympic volunteers. Seemingly alone except for the odd cyclist and pedestrian (this seemed strange with all the associated hype of tens of thousands of visitors – maybe I was in the wrong area), I weaved in and out of the orange pylons, trying to find a bike route, looking, I’m sure, only slightly more bored and confused than the volunteers and police posted at every corner of every intersection. It ended up that I had to attempt to navigate back through this mess where a young woman was cycling through an intersection and abruptly halted by a volunteer. She couldn’t go through there for some estranged reason and pedaled back. “Fucking Olympics”, she said. I concurred as we shared a mutual disgrunt (yes I just made up that word). On my way back I was stopped yet again by police telling me to dismount. This all happened in the span of a very few minutes. I am not sure if other cyclists have had similar experiences in recent days, but this authoritarian nonsense is a bit too much, especially when cycling is supposed to be encouraged and facilitated during the Games.

To top it off, I bike up Main Street past the new fancy Olympic McDonalds and I see a young worker dressed as a latte coffee cup. We meet eyes and share a friendly smile. I thought how humiliating for him, a minimum wage victim of this billion dollar venture. I would like to think that we are potential allies in this whole debacle, both being marginally inconvenienced and exploited, respectively. However, there are many more people that are suffering deeply as a result of this “circus” that has besieged Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories. The Downtown Eastside is business as usual, except with more condo development, people on the streets, more police, and of course the odd corporate billboard. I know people are enjoying the party, drunken Olympians are annoying their neighbours, and others are trumpeting the (imagined) community surrounding the Nazi-era inspired torch relay as it has come through the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland. But c’mon folks, if you want to have a good time, try not to do it at the expense of others. If you have a massive, disruptive house party that goes all night, do you go into your neighbour’s house, steal all of her money and resources to enable your party, not invite her, and then call the cops on her because she is opposed to the idea?

I hope to see both my new cycling and latte acquaintances in the streets, on the right side of the fence, throughout this charade.

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Comments

"If you have a massive,

"If you have a massive, disruptive house party that goes all night, do you go into your neighbour’s house, steal all of her money and resources to enable your party, not invite her, and then call the cops on her because she is opposed to the idea?"

Awesome analysis, this is a great way of framing the issue.

Go into your neighbour's house and steal her money!

 "If you have a massive, disruptive house party that goes all night, do you go into your neighbour’s house, steal all of her money and resources to enable your party, not invite her, and then call the cops on her because she is opposed to the idea?"

That is awesome!

you're funny

"a sea of urine in the form of yellow-coated police"

that really made me laugh. can't wait to read more of what you have to say,

rachel

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