Police seem to be peddling something entirely new these days when it comes to the monthly Critical Mass rallies. These momentary takeovers of main streets by hundreds of cyclists have always caused some small degree of cop angst -- but in five years there have been few arrests or tickets.
At last week's event, however, something seems to have changed. Musician and long-time Critical Mass participant Stephen Targett says the cyclists were being harassed by a limousine driver, who called police to the scene near Queen's Park.
The rally of approximately 150 came to a dead halt when the first police car on the scene cornered two riders carrying a banner and ticketed them for causing a disturbance.
Targett and other participants allege that police brutally attacked one cyclist, smashing his head on the hood of a cruiser after saying he had spit at them.
Police media rep Fred Ellerby says he doesn't know anything about that incident. "I'm not aware of Critical Mass being a particular problem," he says.
Cyclists musing aloud over coffee at By The Way Cafe wonder if there's some kind of cyclist crackdown since the arrival of chief Julian Fantino. "It seems they use a much stronger arm," says Targett.
Cops suddenly ride Critical Mass cyclists