A good day for a bicycle commute to work. This Friday 2/11/05 is Brooklyn Critical Mass. If you've been following along with the recent attacks on this monthly event held in New York City, you know that Critical Mass is becoming the new extreme sport. Critical Mass has been going on across the globe for 10 years, ever since a group of bike riders decided it would be a fun thing to do in San Francisco. Meet, once a month at a specific location and go for a bike ride with fellow citizens all showing up at around the same time. Critical Mass is leaderless, spontaneous and most of all fun. It celebrates non-polluting transportation...for one day a month the bicycle is represented in our ever polluted car filled streets of major metropolis areas. So this idea came to New York about 6 years ago and has grown in size of attendence. August, 2004 was the largest critical mass in NYC due mainly to the focus on the Republicans comming to town for their convention. The police cracked down on this ride and made about 200 arrests out of 5,000 people on the ride. Most of the arrests took place after the ride was over and people were stopped in front of the Saint Marks Church. Ever since this day to NYPD has taken a militant, aggressive and violent stance against the monthly New York City Critical mass, resulting in arrests and attacking cyclists on almost every ride. About 6 months ago another critical mass was started in Brooklyn, meeting at Grand Army plaza at 7pm. As to not disrupt the flow of NYC critical mass which meets the last Friday of every month in Union Square, Brooklyn decide to go for the 2nd Friday of every month. So this Friday is Brooklyn Bikers time to represent.
The NYPD has also been commig out in full force to this ride, trying everything they can to discourage people from going on the ride and becoming part of Brooklyn's every increasing traffic. The result has been a large police presence including 60 vans, a helicopter, dozens of cops on scooters and lots of wasted tax dollars basically spent to monitor and harass a pro-enviormental bike ride.
It is this authors belief that the smaller the attendence of the ride, the more police presence and effectiveness of harassment to scare away those who show up.
One rainy Brooklyn Critical Mass, 3 riders were there. The police showed up in full force and were trying to make arrests based on bicycle law infractions, such as no front head light, etc.
It is still a gamble to attend these rides because the police are rather unpredictable. It is best not to think about their tactics but rather to show up to the ride knowing you have the right to ride a bicycle in New York, free of intimidation. You may want to make sure the batteries are fresh in a front and back light, just to be safe.
Still we ride.