Saturday, May 28, 2005

Bike Month May Critical Mass 05 a success!

Had to miss it, but I heard through text messages and on-line reports that the NYPD basically followed my advice from the last blog posting. Hopefully the found those hit and run drivers. I know there was a last minute arrest scramble near Time's Square but I'm not sure how it went down.

Check out this on the spot blog posting:

and good update at:

Once again thanks to Free wheels for being so dedicated to those arrested.

I believe the same 4 meeting spots were utilized for this critical mass but weren't as needed. I got the impressions that the rides linked up right away.

Sounds like the man laid off cause this ride was written up in the May bike month calender.

Wonder if Smolka will be back at it in June?

If any one has comments, reports and other things to say about this ride, let me know.

Enjoy Bike Fetish day in Brooklyn.


success, success, success!

Friday, May 27, 2005

MAY. Bike Month Critical Mass

smolka, originally uploaded by Green Biker.

Well we all know what day it is. The last Friday of the month and that means...


Sad to say I will be sitting this one out.

Here is my message to the NYPD...guys take a break. No need to come out in full force just cause SMOLKA says so. You guys could be much better utilized seeking out those hit-and-run drivers out there that have been mowing people down on our streets. Remember CARS KILL, BIKES DON'T. We are not trying to disrupt traffic, but to let people know and motor vehicles that we have a right to the road.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Pick up the new Indypendent

indymedia, originally uploaded by Green Biker.

If you haven't picked up the latest FREE copy of the Indypendent, there are a couple of pages dedicated to the critical mass fight.

the Indypendent is newspaper put out by grassroots, volunteer journalists from the print team of the NYC independent media center.

All people are encouraged to join up and make their own media.

more info at:

Here is one article from Chris Anderson. The cover photo seen here on the blog is from Antrim Caskey.


The whoops and hollers grew louder as thousands of bicyclists streamed from the West Side Highway through the Battery underpass. It was a warm, summer night and there were no cars, no angry SUVs, no impatient taxicabs. The 20-block-long procession had tied Midtown in knots and moved on. As the cyclists emerged from their underground echo chamber onto the FDR, they looked out over the East River and saw a full moon rising over the Brooklyn skyline.
The whoops and hollers grew louder as thousands of bicyclists streamed from the West Side Highway through the Battery underpass. It was a warm, summer night and there were no cars, no angry SUVs, no impatient taxicabs. The 20-block-long procession had tied Midtown in knots and moved on. As the cyclists emerged from their underground echo chamber onto the FDR, they looked out over the East River and saw a full moon rising over the Brooklyn skyline.

“It was amazing,” says Kaitlyn Tikkun, a regular participant in Critical Mass, the leaderless monthly ride designed to promote bike culture and non-polluting transportation in New York’s car-choked environment. “We came out onto the FDR Drive and there was a moon coming up next to us, and I looked behind me and all I could see were bikes.”

The extraordinary scene that unfolded on July 30, 2004, was the culmination of six years of rides and community organizing. Coming four weeks before the Republican National Convention (RNC), last summer’s Critical Mass rides tapped into the political energy of a city waiting anxiously for protesters and conservative conventioneers to arrive.

Over the last nine months, however, what was once a “carnival on wheels” has degenerated into an ugly standoff between the New York Police Department and a dwindling group of cyclists, who are divided over what to do next. Mass arrests and the indiscriminate impounding of bicycles are now part of the routine. In the past three months alone, there have been 85 Critical Mass-related arrests. According to New York Newsday, the NYPD devotes “significant” resources to policing the ride, with officers drawn from multiple precincts across the city.

“What saddens me is that for a lot of people whose first Critical Mass was in August [before the RNC],” says Ryan Kuonen, a Brooklyn resident and frequent participant, “they’ve only experienced the police harassment, the drama, the arrests. They’ve never seen that giant party that Critical Mass is supposed to be.”

“Surprising, Erotic, Fun”

Critical Mass began in San Francisco in 1992 as an attempt to provide an alternative to urban car culture and the marginalization of bicycle riders. The idea caught on, arriving in New York in 1998. Critical Mass ( rides now take place on the last Friday of each month in over 300 cities around the world. The Manhattan ride begins at 7 p.m. on the north side of Union Square Park. Chris Carlsson, one of the founders of Critical Mass, describes the early days of the ride as “exuberant, surprising, erotic, fun and utterly transformative.
“No one knew what to expect,” Carlsson adds, “and no one anticipated just how amazing and fun and open-ended it would be.”

“Critical Mass,” Ryan Kuonen states flatly, “is the most exciting thing I’ve ever done. It’s a carnival on wheels, and I love it.”

Some participants laud the ride’s transformative effect. “For a lot of the new people who join the ride, Critical Mass is fun,” says Bill DiPaola, a volunteer with the environmental group Time’s Up! ( which helps promote Critical Mass in New York. “When people come on the ride though, they get a sense of freedom that they’ve never gotten before. They realize that you can ride a bike in New York safely. By the time folks get off their bike they start think about riding it to work, using it more and fighting to get changes in the infrastructure of the city that will make riding a bike in New York a safer experience.”
DiPaola is convinced that the growth in the popularity of bicycling in New York City has occurred despite the city, rather than because of it. “Manhattan is a flat city, and riding a bike here makes a lot of sense,” he says. “The problem is that riding a bike here is also incredibly dangerous. Critical Mass is one of the things people can do in New York that both lets them ride a bike safely and also makes a statement about where we think the city’s priorities should be.”

By early 2003, after five years of Critical Mass, rides were drawing several hundred participants. While police on scooters would often accompany the ride, it was largely accepted and even ignored by city officials. The popularity of the ride grew tremendously throughout the summer of 2003, thanks in large part to a well-publicized “Bike Month” that ended with a Critical Mass attended by over a thousand bikers. That October, more than 2,000 cyclists thronged the streets for a Halloween night ride.

More than 2,000 bicyclists also turned out for the July 30 ride that took over both the West Side Highway and FDR Drive. “That night,” wrote Dave Bonan on the web site, “the cars were driving on our road.”

Warning Signs

However, the July ride witnessed the first signs of more stringent policing. “In July it started to feel like the police were practicing for the RNC,” says Ryan Kuonen. Scooter cops zoomed to the head of the ride, blocking cars on ramps from entering the highways dominated by bicyclists. Meanwhile, unmarked police cars tailed the ride, threatening to arrest cyclists who were similarly “corking” traffic.

During the Aug. 27 pre-RNC ride, 264 bicyclists were arrested; the arrests have continued ever since.

Following the aggressive police response, Bicycling advocates turned to a legal strategy to secure the ride. On Oct. 19, five bicyclists filed suit against the NYPD alleging that the police illegally seized locked bikes during the September Critical Mass ride. In response, the city counter-sued, asking a U.S. District Court on Oct. 26 to permanently enjoin anyone from riding in Critical Mass without an official permit. Although the suit was tossed in late December, the city refiled it in mid-March. This time the city not only sought to block the ride but also to enjoin DiPaola and four other Time’s Up! volunteers from personally promoting or even talking about the ride.

“The city’s argument is very troubling,” noted veteran civil rights attorney Norman Siegel. “It’s a prior restraint and a violation of the First Amendment. It’s clearly unconstitutional. If the city prevails, social justice activists could not publicize the gathering of people to engage in any form of civil disobedience.”

Outside the courtroom, activists have fought back in other ways, filing a Freedom of Information Act request to find out exactly how much the city is spending on policing the ride. Critical Mass riders have responded by launching the ride from multiple points across the city and using text messaging to avoid the police.

Police tactics have been aggressive. According to NYC Indymedia reports, the NYPD has deployed scooter squads, uniformed and plainclothes officers on foot and bikes, orange netting, marked and undercover vans, loudspeakers, command units, video surveillance teams and helicopters in response to Critical Mass. In court testimony related to the lawsuit against the Time’s Up! volunteers, Assistant Police Chief Bruce Smolka noted that the NYPD devoted “a large amount of resources, personnel and equipment” to the monthly rides.”

Many believe that Critical Mass participation has suffered as a result. “The ridership this spring has been way down,” says Kuonen. “Normally by this time of year you’re getting rides of 300 or 400. April’s ride was barely 150. Maybe it was the weather, but I don’t think so. I think the police tactics are working.

DiPaola admits that some of the pageantry and excitement of Critical Mass has been drained by the police. “The city has stripped the ride of families, of color, of people performing, of people on tall bikes, on artistic bikes. That’s for sure. But we also feel that the bike has survived the winter in the face of massive police intimidation and corruption.”

Selective Enforcement

With attention focused on the Critical Mass battles in Manhattan, the NYPD’s selective enforcement policies have been largely overlooked.

The same city administration that sued Time’s Up! members to keep them from talking about Critical Mass has itself spent tens of thousands of dollars funding New York City Bike Month calendars that publicize the ride.

The calendar, published by the bike advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, lists the May 27 ride as a “Bike Month” event. “The Bike Month calendar listing Critical Mass did receive funding from the city,” acknowledges Dani Simons, event director for Transportation Alternatives. Clearly trying to distance Transportation Alternatives from the controversial ride, Simons adds,”the listing for Critical Mass is only one of over 150 bike-related events this month, and I guess we’d just see that as confirmation that Critical Mass is only a small part of the New York bicycle scene.”

The city has also been less aggressive in policing the Brooklyn Critical Mass. Although most riders acknowledge that there are often as many police (one to two dozen) as people on the Brooklyn rides, there have yet to be any arrests at the outer borough event, which occurs on the second Friday of every month, beginning at Grand Army Plaza.

“The police there seem really intent on getting us to agree to certain guidelines ahead of time,” says Kuonen. “But once the ride starts, even though they follow us, they’ve never actually arrested anybody.”

Looking Ahead

With the future of Critical Mass in New York City hanging in the balance, participants are debating how to save the ride.
Bicycling activists are hopeful that the political winds are shifting. “Politicians are starting to come out in support of Critical Mass, community boards are voting to support us, the artistic community is rallying around us,” says DiPaola. “We feel like the only people in this city who don’t support Critical Mass are the mayor and the NYPD.”

“Time’s Up! will never ask the city for a permit for Critical Mass because it’s not our ride,” he adds. “We don’t sponsor it, no matter what the city claims, and we couldn’t ask for a permit even if we wanted one.”

Many riders have begun launching Critical Mass from multiple points around Manhattan, a tactic recommended by Chris Carlsson, a veteran of San Francisco Critical Mass’s struggle to stay on the streets in the mid-1990’s. “Remember,” said Carlsson, “it’s not illegal to ride your bike, so we can always fall back on that.”

Other riders have taken the opposite approach, urging participants to obey traffic laws. “What if we didn’t blow stoplights?” asks Critical Mass participant James Bachhuber.
For her part, Kuonen sees promise in the Brooklyn Critical Mass. She’s actively working to increase knowledge of and participation in the event, and hopes that it can remain mostly trouble free.

“I think that if George Bush had never come to the city we would never have had this problem,” she said. “The police told us we couldn’t ride, and we did anyway, and now it’s just a big power play. But no matter what happens,” she added, “we have to get Critical Mass back to what it’s supposed to be: fun.”

(Matt Wasserman and A.K. Gupta contributed to this report.)

The Manhattan Critical Mass will be held on May 27 and June 24. The next Brooklyn Critical Mass will be June 10.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

bike fetish day flyer

bike fetish day flyer, originally uploaded by Green Biker.

Bike Blog seems to be reaching far and wide.

I got a response from someone in Australia who was appalled by the recent killing of 21 year old Brandi Bailey, here in NYC.

This person has been involved with a similar accident to fellow Australian Ian Humphrey who was killed by a hit and run by a 50 year old lawyer in November 2003

The blog that follows this legal case is:

After critical mass and the reverend Billy bicycle legal defense fund fundraiser there is a street party dedicated to bicycles on May 28th.

Bicycle Fetish Day_May 28 (Saturday): 12:00 PM-6:00 PM_Havemeyer Street between Grand and Hope Streets (Brooklyn) The block will be closed to all vehicular traffic and open to all people who have fetishized their beloved bicycles. In the typical car show style, bicycles of all genres will be lined up for showing off to all the passersby and fellow bicycle enthusiasts. This event will bring together the many diverse cycling clubs and styles of New York City. Representing their unique styles will be clubs such as; The Civic Riders Bicycle Club, The Moustache Riders, Classic Riders Bicycle Club, Puerto Rico Schwinn Club, Black Label Bicycle Club, Bicycle Works NYC, Bicycle Cherry, Foodswings, NYC Bikes, as well as unaffiliated individuals on low-riders, track, vintage, mountain and home-made bikes plus so many more! There will be contests, food, music and prizes by local bicycle friendly vendors. Get out the polish and chamois. Your bike just may be the best on the block!_Civic Riders Bicycle Club and the City Reliquary Museum: Time’s Up will be on hand with a bicycle sound system and bike powered blender to make smoothies….mmmmm.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Death of a cyclist

Death of a cyclist, originally uploaded by Green Biker.

Here is an extensive article written by Jefferson Siegel from the New York Villager newspaper.

A box for collections to help pay for Brandie Bailey's funeral was put out at a memorial for her at CBGB last Sunday night. She was a hardcore punk rock fan.

Cyclist's death is a reminder of the danger on the streets

By Jefferson Siegel

On Sunday night, May 8, Brandie Bailey was able to leave work early. It was near the end of her 2 p.m.-to-midnight shift as a waitress at the Red Bamboo Vegetarian Soul Cafe, a cozy restaurant on W. Fourth St. Manager Jason Wong said they closed just before 11:30 p.m. that night.

"We all said goodnight" he recalled, and like every night, said, "Get home safe."  Bailey, 21, got on her red, fixed-gear track bike, a streamlined model with a high seat, no gears and no brakes. A bike commuter, she started pedaling home to her apartment in East Williamsburg. A waitress at the restaurant for a year, Bailey had told co-workers of her plans to fly home to Vancouver in July to visit her mother.

"That's what we were talking about that Sunday night,"  Wong said, "her vacation."

Just before midnight, Lower East Side resident David Davoli was walking toward Mulberry St. when he saw a crowd at the northeast corner of Houston St. and Avenue A. They were gathered around a bicyclist lying in the street.

"There were three people who, when I arrived, were holding her head and trying to get her to say her name," Davoli said. "She was limp and not responding."

Two doors away, Downtown resident Glenn Pease was having a drink at Julep's Bar on Avenue A when a fire truck roared to a stop.

"I ran over. I went to see who was laying on the floor," he recalled. Brandie Bailey was lying in the crosswalk, just feet from the sidewalk.

The fire truck was soon joined by two police cars and an ambulance. As the tragedy unfolded at the intersection, the private garbage truck that had hit Bailey was heading Uptown. Her red bike lay nearby, its rear wheel bent. Witnesses told police of the hit-and-run and, Davoli said, the police took off in pursuit.

Published reports say the driver was unaware anything had happened. The truck continued north for over a mile, until police finally caught up with it at 21st St. and Second Ave.

Bailey was taken by ambulance to Beth Israel Hospital where she was pronounced dead at 11:58 p.m. She had suffered massive internal injuries. No charges were filed against the driver and no summonses were issued. A Police Department spokesman said the incident was classified as an accident. Drug and alcohol tests on the driver were negative.

Bailey's death has instilled sorrow and incited anger in the bicycle community. Coincidentially, May is Bike Month in the city and this past weekend, devoted riders worldwide had descended on the East Village for the Fifth Annual Bicycle Film Festival. In the crowded lobby of the Anthology Film Archives on Second Ave., many were aware of the tragedy.

At the premiere screening Thursday night, there was a moment of silence in her honor. On Friday night, a Critical Mass ride from Prospect Park in Brooklyn, proceeding across Houston St. to the film fest, stopped at the Avenue A intersection for several minutes. A clutch of flowers was placed near the spot where Bailey fell and several riders raised their bikes over their heads in tribute.

Bicycle awareness and riders anger has increased since last summer's Republican Convention. The monthly Critical Mass rides, which had proceeded unimpeded for years, were suddenly blocked at various locations and riders were arrested en masse. Lost in the furor were the goals the bicyclists were trying to promote: environmentally friendly transportation and safe riding on city streets through the creation of dedicated bike lanes.

When mass arrests didn't stall the monthly rides, the city took the unusual step of filing a lawsuit against four members of Time's Up!, a bike advocacy group. The city claimed the group was organizing illegal gatherings; Time's Up! said they only promoted the rides, as did others.

Bill DiPaola, founder of Time's Up! and one of the defendants named in the suit, was in the Friday night ride. Outside the film fest, he voiced a rider's anger and frustration.

"Every time a bicyclist gets hit in the city, or a pedestrian, no one gets arrested," he said. "This particular truck went for 23 blocks without stopping. If you're not in your car, why shouldn't you be allowed to walk around the streets or to ride your bike, just to feel safe? We feel it's an unfair advantage, and a disturbing advantage to the automobile, that it could scare people, pollute the environment and, in this case, kill someone and get away with it."

By some estimates, 200 pedestrians and cyclists are killed each year in New York City by motor vehicles and thousands more are injured. Of over 6,000 miles of city streets, only 400 miles have either dedicated bike lanes or suggested routes.

In 2003 the city reissued the "NYC Cycling Map" offering a five-borough depiction of bike lanes, recommended routes and suggestions for the "street-smart cyclist." The map shows Houston St. as a "Recommended Route” sufficient width and/or light traffic. Avenue A at that corner has no markings indicating a bike lane. And dotted lines on the map are suggestions that won't protect cyclists or pedestrians from cars speeding to make a traffic light or large trucks making wide turns.

There is an unmarked superhighway between Williamsburg and Lower Manhattan on which countless bicyclists commute daily to jobs, music gigs and the Lower East Side social scene. The Williamsburg Bridge has a designated bike lane, but once a rider exits onto the Downtown streets, they are at the mercy of traffic-clogged thoroughfares.

An example of the deferrential treatment granted to motor vehicles was experienced last month by a Critical Mass participant. Bike rider Nick Caccavale of Brooklyn was trailing behind the ride at 18th St. and Eighth Ave.

"There was a guy [an S.U.V.] squeezing through on the left side and that's where I was, on the left side of the road," Caccavale recalled. He tried to warn the driver off. "He ended up just plowing through me and I fell to the floor. My bike was underneath his car. And he got out, cursing and screaming at me, saying, "What are you doing on the streets, you're a biker, get out of my way, I'm a car."

Police arrived and told the driver to get back in his S.U.V. and leave.

"And they drove away, without taking down any information," the cyclist said.

After walking his damaged bike several blocks, he flagged down a police car and insisted on filing a report.

"They were about to leave me and say there was nothing they could do because there were no witnesses with me and there were no injuries."

In 1999, Charles Komanoff, an economist and activist, published "Killed by Automobile" an in-depth analysis of deaths caused by motor vehicles on New York streets from 1994-1997. While the fatality totals are troubling, the number of people killed by garbage trucks stands out. In those four years, 26 people were killed by the trucks. Of those, 17 were killed by private carters and nine died after being hit by city Sanitation trucks. Komanoff estimates up to 200 pedestrians and cyclists are killed in the city each year by cars and trucks.

"There are too many motor vehicles, they're driven too fast, too recklessly and with too much impunity," Komanoff said."Drivers can drive recklessly and maim and kill with no consequences for themselves."

Davoli has noticed the potentially hazardous driving by the private carters. Just days after Bailey was killed, he was standing on 10th St. and Avenue A and saw a private garbage truck driving like Mario Andretti. This one guy comes down Avenue A going south to turn onto Ninth, going about 30 miles an hour, goes into the left-hand lane to turn right, without slowing down."br />
It's not known if Bailey's bike had lights of if she was wearing a helmet. Track bikes like the one Bailey was riding have long been used by messengers and started to come into vogue about two years ago as messenger chic became cool among cyclists. It's rare that the bikes have front and rear lights for safety, said one bike activist.

"Track bikes usually don't have accessories, like lights; it makes them [the riders] look like a gearhead," he said, using a cyclists term for "nerd."

It's also not clear whether Bailey had been biking against traffic, since she had reportedly been biking south but was found lying on the east side of the avenue and the truck had been driving north.

One thing is certain; an extended community of friends, co-workers and colleagues is mourning an unbearable loss. Some can barely bring themselves to talk about it.

Ryan Moylan lived down the hall from Bailey.

"I can't even picture her not smiling," Moylan said in the lobby of the Bike Film Fest."Just the type of person that everyone liked."

Justin Taylor was a close friend for two years and lived across the street from her.

"She was always smiling," he said. "One of the happiest girls I knew."

Her home page, brandeleen, has been turned into an online memorial with hundreds of expressions of sorrow.

Bailey was a fan of hardcore punk rock music. Her brother, Jason, is the bassist in the Christian metalcore band Figure Four. That's how she met music promoter Rich Hall and became a regular at CBGB. Hall recalled her frequent visits to the East Village club.

"She had ethics, we respected her ethics, she respected ours,” Hall said. Hall organized last Sunday night’s show, which he turned into a memorial to her and collected donations to help her family pay for the funeral. Hall said she would be especially missed by the hardcore community, because the concerts are about meeting people and keeping friendships forever."

Restaurant manager Wong also considered her a friend.

"She was a sweet, sweet girl," he said. "She was as nice as they get, willing to fill in when someone was sick. Helped me out of a couple of jams when I needed someone to host." Wong said she had spent two years at college in Canada before coming to New York. "She was planning on going back. She knew sign language and wanted to open up a sign language business." He paused, then pronounced her,"An angel, this girl."

More are now riding brakeless track bikes

Brandon Neubauer, a member of Time's Up!, said track bikes, like the one Brandie Bailey was riding the night she was killed in a traffic accident on Avenue A, are definitely in vogue, and that in addition to an East Village bike store devoted to the bikes, there is also a popular magazine, called Fixed. He rides one himself.

"It's a big part of the bicycle community, here and in San Francisco and around the world wherever there is a Critical Mass movement," he said. "They were initially made to ride on tracks without brakes. You'd have to know about her bike, some fixed gears have brakes on the front wheel."

There are two ways to stop on a fixed-gear bike. Because the pedals don't coast, but are constantly turning with the wheel, one can either use his or her back leg to resist the turning of the wheel, or push his or her weight onto the front wheel to keep the rear wheel from skidding, with the rider sometimes even standing on the pedals to add to the stopping power.

“You can stop relatively quickly that way," Neubauer said, though adding, In general, fixed-gear riders tend to ride more conservatively because of the limitations of the machine. In my opinion, fixed-gear riders are the best riders in the city.”

Neubauer said only practiced bikers make the leap from free-wheel bikes to track bikes, and that track bikes offer a purer riding experience because one is really in touch with the machine.

“In my opinion, fixed-gear riders are probably the best riders in the city,” he said.

Lincoln Anderson

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Saturday, May 21, 2005

After Party for Critical Mass May 05

Reverend Billy, originally uploaded by Green Biker.

Critical Mass, the fun, hassle free bike ride where we are warmly welcomed by the NYPD is happening again! Wow what a surprise. You would think with all the amusing games of "your under arrest...for no real reason" cat and mouse games we've been having with the boys and girls in blue that this event would just go away. NOT. In case you hadn't noticed, this is bike month, there are more bikers on the road because of critical mass and there is a thriving culture of bike enthusiasts and Critical mass is just too damn fun.

There are a number of things to help with to make the May Bike Month advertised by the DOT in the Bike Month Calendar Critical mass Rock. Besides going to critical mass and bringing 10 of your friends you can also be creative.

Here is how to get involved...


It's bike month and summers almost here. Critical mass will be a big one...even bigger with an ARMY OF CARDBOARD BIKES!

Join the Not an Alternative collective and Time's Up! For cardboard prop production and set construction for next week's Critical Mass and Reverend Billy AFTERPARTY show and TIME'S UP! Benefit. Cardboard bikes will process from Union Square to St. Mark's church where we'll celebrate bike power and reenact that fateful RNC ride at the show later that evening. A cardboard set will include streets, traffic lights, more. No experience necessary...we'll have patterns and materials. Just bring yourself, your friends, and extra cardboard if you can.

They got cops, we got a cardboard army.

Sunday, 5/22. 12-7 pm

Tuesday, 5/24. 6:30-10pm

@ the Time's Up! space on Houston and Mulberry

(supply donations are most welcome: spraypaint, exactos, scissors, paint, duct tape)

After Critical Mass is a party hosted by: Reverend Billy.

Here are the details.

Fri, May 27 8:00 PM
Time's UP! Benefit, Critical Mass Night
St. Mark's Church in the Bowery, Corner 10th St. & 2nd Ave., New York, NY
Rev and the choir will raise money for the legal defense fund for TIME'S UP! environmental group, which is being sued by City. We will re-enact the night of April 27th, when, with Times Up! cyclists threw their bikes over the St. Mark's fence and accepted "Sanctuary" from Rev. Frank Morales and Deacon Jorge Diaz. Incredibly, with the helicopter hovering above, the cops backed down.

I beleive the ride will most likely make its way to the church.

My suggestion in remembrance of what happened at critical mass August 04...get into the church grounds with your bike as soon as possible.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Bronx commute

There is a new bike store opening up on 2nd Ave between 3rd and 4th St. called NYC velo (or something like that) I saw it after my long commute home that encompassed 4 boroughs. Nice to see more bike stores taking up residency in the East Village rather than another bar. I hear it will focus on mountain and cyclocross bikes.

So I thought about doing a monthly or maybe weekly report on a bridge or a commute route. The idea is to give information to fellow commuting cyclists and focus on areas of the city that people may think are impossible or difficult to get to by bicycle.

Hopefully people can report on my information or maybe let me know about bridges and roadways they experience on the daily.

One thing that is very handy is D.O.T. 2004 New York City Bike map. This is a free map of the 5 boroughs put out by the city and can be picked up at local bike shops or by calling 311. Its a big colorful map which caters to bikes showing what are ideal routes, streets with bike lanes and those areas that have a functioning greenway. I showed my map to a car owner and he wanted one, just for its clear directions and layout.

I always refer to this map before venturing out into unknown territory.

The map is updated often but it still can be unclear what kind of road conditions you may encounter. Often greenways can be close to unspecific construction or you may not be able to tell which side of a bridge you are supposed to be on. This is what inspired me to share my information about my most recent commute.

I live in Williamsburg Brooklyn and have been taking an intro level gardening course at the Bronx botanical Gardens. This is a far trek and this was the first time I'd ventured it by bike. I set off through Greenpoint, down McGuiness Ave. towards the Pulaski Bridge. This is a short drawbridge that connects Brooklyn to Long Island City Queens and takes you across the Newtown creek. There is a fairly wide bike path on the West side of the bridge. Some brave riders take the car path but its not recommended. I took it a few nights ago and for the first time in 15 years of riding in NYC, the bridge was up. Must have been a toxic waste barge that was piled too high.

So this time I took the bike path and got off in LIC. Then I took Vernon Blvd all the way towards the top of Queens in Astoria. This is the best route to travel if you are going directly to the Tribourough Bridge. Basically you are traveling along the East River on a wide 2 way street with less traffic. Around the Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Garden I made a right onto Broadway and headed to 21st. Street. This is the major 2 way street that cuts through Queens North and South. You can take this all the way from exiting the Pulaski if you like a super crowded street with livery cabs speeding to car washes and cube trucks trying to run you off the road. I prefer the more scenic Vernon and is the recommended path in the bike map. The bike map also recommends using 36th St.

The next destination was the pedestrian entrance to the Triborough. This is the major monstrosity that looms ahead of you heading north. It is a major roadway that connects Queens with Manhattan and the Bronx and passes over Randalls Island. There are two functioning bike paths on the North and South side of the Triborough, They may appear to be closed but aren't. I have never seen another biker on this bridge but than again I've only ridden it twice. The entrance to the bike path is a set of stairs on Hoyt Ave and 27th st. but it will feel like you are going to Astoria Blvd. Once you get in this area just note it is on the North side of the freeway entrance and is a set of stairs, kind of hidden. I'm also not sure if you are supposed to take the North side for Bronx bound and vise versa for Queens bound. I'm not sure there is any rule but the bike path is kind of narrow and the bike map seems to imply to take the North bound side to Randalls.

So after a couple of stairs you head across the bridge and then have to dismount in a few places so heads up. At one point in the middle of the path are some orange plastic trash fencing. No its not the police trying to stop critical mass. Just be aware the path narrows and you have to make a few short hair pin turns. After 2 sets of short stairs down you take the long curving down ramp towards Randal's island. At the end of this long down sloping pathway is ramp with a 90 degree turn and another ramp which can be murder on a brakeless fixed gear so take it slow. You get off in the middle of Randall's Island and to proceed to the Bronx you need to head north or Left. Basically you are getting off one bike path on the side of a bridge and hoping right back on another, which is just a continuation of the Triborough into the Bronx. So go across the one way traffic road to the roadway going left and follow it to you see another bridge expansion and another concrete ramp heading up. They were doing construction on it so it looked like some sort of lesser known Christo project all wrapped in plastic. I think they were painting the bridge like those endless projects on the Williamsburg bridge that never seem to be finished...ah just how painted does a bridge need to be? This next section is rather short. Wave to the construction workers in the tyvek suits, they're friendly and surprised to see pedestrians actually using these pathways. On the downside you will run into so steps so keep your head up unless you've got a dual suspension mountain bike and are into that sort of thing.

You get off in the Bronx in the middle of a twisted gnarl of overhead passes and semi trucks. This is basically the Triborough turning into the Bruckner expressway. Follow the monstrosity of concrete and diesel fumes until you get to E 132nd street. Make a left under the overpass. The hard part is over. There are many streets in the BX wide and accessible for bikes. The Bike map recommends St. Ann’s, E 149th and Prospect Ave. To get to the Bronx Botanical Gardens I took Prospect Ave which turned into Crotona Ave. It was wide and even had a bike lane for a good portion of it.

On the way back I headed into Manhattan. I took Willis Ave and the Willis Ave Bridge. The bike map says to walk your bike but I saw a few riders going along the path with ease. Pedestrians seemed friendly and even moved out of the way for bikes with little or no hassle.

Monday, May 16, 2005


First warm night, originally uploaded by Green Biker.

This is a picture of first warm night. More pictures can be found at:

I couldn't make the event but it sounds like a success. At least people were able to have a taste of what a free roving street party can be about. It also sounds like 60-70 bikes riding in mass was not attacked or harassed by the police...for a change.

Here is an article from NY cycling advocate Charlie Komanoff

The Need for More Cyclists
Remarks of Charles Komanoff

Bicycle Education Leadership Conference / League of American Bicyclists

New York City • May 3, 2005

There is nothing ailing the world that can’t be helped by more bicycling. Name your favorite, or unfavorite malady, and I’ll tell you how more cycling will help.

Global warming (climate havoc)?

Peak oil / oil depletion?

U.S. collaboration with despotic regimes that spawn terror?

Traffic gridlock?

Urban decay and community disintegration?

Disease and disability?

Exploding medical costs?

Youth alienation?

(Ask for volunteer maladies)

The world needs more bicycling. Bicycling needs more bicycling, as I explain later. My point now — my hope in our time together today — is to broaden your mission; to expand it from safe cycling and effective cycling to more cycling. Because more cycling is not only good for your town and our planet; it’s the best way to get to safe cycling and effective cycling.

Let’s begin with a few key questions.

What is safe cycling?

What is safety?

Is safety not part of something larger, called health?

My pole star for these questions is the noted policy analyst Mayer Hillman. In a landmark study for the British Medical Association, Hillman found that the health benefits of regular cycling, in terms of life years gained, far outweighed the actuarial loss of life from road accidents.

Even in Britain’s anti-cycling road environment, Hillman found, each minute of lost life-expectancy from the increased probability of crash injury or death to some cyclists was offset 10-fold by the increased longevity from improved cardiovascular health of other cyclists.

Let me put this a different way: Hillman demonstrated the risk of not cycling.

This is not just a rhetorical point — though it’s very effective rhetoric, as I find in conversations with non-cyclists here. “How can you ride a bike in New York City?” they ask, and I say, “I couldn’t live here if I didn’t ride a bike.” “Isn’t it dangerous?” they say, and I say, “It’s dangerous not to,” and then I tell them about Hillman.

There’s a further point, just as important — for us — as Hillman’s. It’s the benefit to cyclist safety when more people cycle.

Cyclists like having other cyclists around. Not just to lend a wrench or help fix a flat, but for a far bigger reason: our larger presence on the road compels drivers to take notice of us.

Researchers in several countries are documenting, and quantifying, this safety-in-numbers effect: they’re observing a “power law” relationship of approximately 0.6 between cyclist numbers and cyclist safety.

What does that mean? It means that the probability that an individual cyclist on a particular road or in a city or region will be struck by a motorist declines with the 0.6 power of the number of cyclists on that road or in that region.

Maybe I should give an example. Say the number of cyclists triples. Since three raised to the negative 0.6 power is roughly one-half, each tripling in cycling volume brings about a halving of each cyclist’s crash risk.

Now say the number of cyclists increases nine-fold, that is, triples twice. Then each cyclist’s crash risk is halved twice, i.e., it falls by three-fourths.

Safety-in-numbers means that none of the things we talk about for individual safety — helmets, blinkies, Effective CyclingTR — will improve the safety of the individual cyclist as much as increasing the number of cyclists on our roads.

That’s why I say that what bicycling mostly needs is... more bicycling.

For those of you who regard rider skills as paramount, consider this striking, and disturbing, finding from our Killed By Automobile study of road fatalities in New York City.

First, remember that most driving in the five boroughs is by men — we estimated 75%, taking account of taxis, buses, trucks, and other male/female employment differences.

So, all things equal, 75% of cyclist fatalities here would have come from bike crashes with motor vehicles driven by men, and 25% from crashes with vehicles driven by women, right?

Not even close.

Over the four-year period we studied, with 71 bicyclist fatalities, and the driver identified for 63 of them, 61 of the drivers who killed bicyclists were male and 2 were female. That’s a 97%/3% gender split, rather than the expected 75/25.

Per mile driven, male drivers killed bicyclists at 10 times the rate of female drivers.

The grossly disproportionate number of male cyclist-killers strongly suggests that driver aggression (and not just cyclist impulsiveness or incompetence) plays a significant role in killing bicycle-riders in New York City — a finding confirmed in a later report showing that the foremost behavior that’s killing cyclists is aggressive passing by drivers.

Short of mandating sex-change operations for motorists, how do we make cycling safer?

I’ll mention two ways.

One is to achieve the “numbers” part of safety-in-numbers quickly, by promoting and participating in the worldwide monthly cycling event known as Critical Mass.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever ridden in Critical Mass.

What makes Critical Mass so much fun?

Flipping off car drivers? No.

Blocking traffic? Well... not really.

What makes Critical Mass feel so good, even magical, is the chance it offers to ride a bike without being swamped by a sea of cars and the chance to enjoy the astonishing fact of navigating a city under your own power and the chance to transform the motorized craziness of the street into something gentler.

And it
's all because of safety in numbers.

But safety in numbers works both ways: Critical Mass is generating new energy for cycling. Bringing in new riders. Providing training wheels, if you will, for cycling wannabes who find solo bike-riding too daunting. Creating a buzz for cycling. Providing a venue to dress up one's bike ” a pimp my ride" for cycling. Getting cycling out of its geek ghetto into someplace more appealing to the 99% of people who don't consider themselves “cyclists.”

In this context, it’s quite an irony that in the city where we are meeting today, the Mayor and the Police Department have recently undertaken the most brutal, expensive, and extravagant repression of Critical Mass ever, anywhere in this broad, and ever-broadening, land of ours.

Don't think for a minute that this is some crazy New York aberration. Today New York — tomorrow Austin, or Ann Arbor, or San Francisco. The hysterical persecution of Critical Mass that we're seeing here is not about cyclists running red lights or blocking traffic or inconveniencing motorists. It is nothing but a moral panic about cycling — the same demonization that occurs and recurs across America, whenever drivers feel entitled to imperil cyclists for taking up “their” space; when radio shock-jocks urge listeners to run cyclists off the road; when municipalities ban cycling in their central districts, as many towns in this state and elsewhere have done.

Why cyclists? A more harmless group would be hard to find. I suspect it’s because of our harmlessness — we’re the scapegoats for the bad conscience of a culture that knows, on some level, that it can’t continue on its present path. We demonstrate the alternative — so we can’t be tolerated. A society in denial simply can’t stand to see us.

The real problem we face is not poor visibility or bad signage or insufficient skills or inadequate equipment. The problem we face is... hatred. We need to recognize that initiatives for individual safety can only go so far … and must be complemented, every step of the way, by the political and cultural struggle for social recognition of cycling as a legitimate, valid and valorized way to get around.

So I’m happy to report the Bicycle Federation of America is incubating a new project aimed at transforming the prevailing paradigms of American traffic law and culture: at moving from individual safety to social safety, and from traffic safety to traffic justice.

In the coming months, you’ll be hearing more about this Traffic Justice Project. For now, I urge you to go back to your communities with the knowledge that teaching people to be better cyclists, while helpful, isn’t enough.

All of us need to work as well on getting more cyclists on the road, and simultaneously widening the discourse of cycling advocacy and safety to include justice.

The contemporary historian Benjamin DeMott tells us, “Great causes — they still exist — nourish themselves on firm, sharp awareness of the substance of injustice. The country’s very foundations, indeed, lie in clearly defined understanding of injustices.”

Let’s get to work.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Article in News Day about Critical Mass

Bike film fest, originally uploaded by Green Biker.

Last day for the 5th Annual Bicycle Film Festival. Yesterday was a bike parade downtown to the film anthology where a bicycle block party was held.

Also there was a messenger style alley cat across the bridges hosted by Trackstar.

Also last night was the first warm night street party…hopefully more on that later.

I found this other blog from a guy in buffalo:

Check it out:

An amazing article came out in News Day about Critical mass…

Critical Mass duel intensifies
New York Newsday | 15-May-2005

Assistant Chief Bruce Smolka arrested a middle school counselor
on the north edge of Union Square Park.

Lisa Kozlowski, 30, of Manhattan, was at a rally point for
Critical Mass, a decade-old monthly bicycle ride, which has been
the target of a police crackdown since last summer. By the
police account, Smolka ordered Kozlowski's arrest because she
refused to get off her bike and move it off the sidewalk.

Kozlowski's lawyer, Sabrina Shroff, says the police overreacted.

"She was grabbed by her shirt collar, and three officers picked
her off her bike," Schroff said.

The same evening, over on Fifth Avenue and 17th Street, police
stopped four fashionably dressed women -- at least one visiting
from London -- who had been pedaling their bikes down 17th

A police supervisor asked one of the women for her ID, inquired
about her destination and released her and her friends after a
few minutes.

"There's a bicycle protest going on inside the park, but we're
sure you're not involved," he told them, according to a
videotape of the encounter.

In other words, just another evening in the escalating struggle
over the monthly ride. The battle between cops -- who say the
cyclists need a permit and are violating traffic rules -- and
cyclists -- who say it's a spontaneous event that breaks no
laws -- began when more than 200 cyclists were arrested during
the Republican National Convention in August. In the four rides
since Jan. 1, there have more been more than 80 arrests. And as
summer approaches, it seems clear that the duel will continue.

The arrests have sparked civil rights lawsuits from lawyers
representing the cyclists. The city has sued a group called
Times Up to stop them from "promoting" the ride. A week rarely
passes without some kind of activity in either criminal or civil
court. And in a kind of brinksmanship, both sides accuse the
other of making matters worse with increasingly aggressive

While the riders say they yearn for the days of largely
uneventful rides that took place before the convention, Police
Commissioner Ray Kelly has pressed a campaign to force them to
submit to formal restrictions.

"The Police Department stands ready to work with Critical Mass
and Times Up to provide for a route that would allow mass rides
and the orderly control of traffic at intersections," said
Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne, a police spokesman.

Kelly and Browne have said that around the time of the
convention, the character of the rides changed, with cyclists
running lights and riding on the FDR Drive.

"They appeared to be hijacked by those determined to disrupt and
block traffic, as opposed to the non-disruptive group rides that
we previously experienced," Browne said.

Riders insist Critical Mass is spontaneous. Gideon Oliver, a
lawyer who represents many of the riders arrested this year,
says the police changed the tone themselves with their
aggressive tactics -- chases, at times -- and an apparent policy
of making arrests before misconduct occurs.

"You can't give a lawful dispersal order if no one has done
anything to cause it," Oliver said. Beyond that, there are major
philosophical differences.

"The roadways are designed primarily for the motor bicycles are
vehicle, too. [motor\] vehicles to travel in," Smolka testified
in court in December. "Bicyclists are allowed to use the roadway
also, but not to the exclusion of everybody else."
[This is how the paragraph appears online. Huh?]

Bicycle advocate Steve Stollman says: "If you are following the
traffic laws, then you are simply traffic. What they are saying
is any spontaneous meeting of people requires a police permit
and a flight plan. That's insane."

Some of the bikers have developed tactics of their own, such as
starting rides at multiple locations and using cell phones and
text messaging to coordinate the rides.

But the police operations each month are nothing if not
extremely elaborate: a coordinated array of uniformed and
plainclothes officers, undercover officers, orange netting,
marked and undercover cars and vans, loudspeakers, helicopters,
scooter squads and videotaping of civilians.

The officers are drawn from commands across the city. For
example, while it was Smolka who ordered Kozlowski's arrest, the
arresting officers of record were a captain from Patrol Borough
Queens South and an officer from the Bronx South Task Force,
records show.

Browne did not provide Newsday with the cost of these
operations, but Smolka has testified that "hundreds" of officers
are involved.

"We devote a large amount of resources, personnel and equipment
to do this," Smolka testified, calling it necessary to preserve
public safety.

This position has drawn skepticism from the other side.

"This is nothing more than a power struggle in which the police
have decided that they must prevail," said Steven Hyman, a
lawyer representing Times Up in the city's lawsuit. "Prior to
last August, it is clear that there was no problem. The police
were escorting the ride."

The deployment requires police supervisors to give lengthy
arrest policy briefings to the officers. On the night of
Kozlowski's arrest, a police captain told a group of about 35
officers that no officer should make more than three arrests.
Officers, he said, should actually witness wrongdoing before
making arrests.

"It's unfortunate we're all working Friday night," he told
them. "But we're here to stop them from getting out of hand and
talking over the roadways of the city."

Despite that admonition, some of those arrested maintain that
they broke no laws -- or even comitted any traffic violations.
Karen de George, 25, a fund-raising specialist from Corona, said
she was arrested at the February ride before she even got onto
her bike.

"I was with the group, and I started to walk out, when I saw the
netting and someone tapped me on the shoulder and said 'You're
under arrest,'" she said. "They left the plastic cuffs on for a
couple of hours, and I didn't get out until 3:30 in the morning.
No one told me what I was being charged with."

So far, de George has spent $750 on legal fees.

In January, Terri Carta left Union Square, stopped at the
lights, but still was arrested within three minutes after
leaving the park, her affidavit indicates.

In his court affidavit, Josh Cotton related how he and his
friends decided not to ride but were corralled anyway in the
orange netting soon after they left the park. He, too, was not
told why he had been arrested. The Cotton arrest was later

As the months have passed, arrestees seem to be more willing to
go to trial. Kit Bland, who freelances in television and film
production, has founded the Bicycle Defense Fund, which raises
money for legal defense and loans bicycles to those who had
theirs confiscated.

Bland has been arrested twice, both times fewer than two blocks
from Union Square.

"Look, I believe in arresting people who break the law, and
Critical Mass may be a pain in the ---- ass but it's not
illegal," Bland said. "And it's not going to go away."

During his December testimony, Smolka was asked, "If 20 to 30
bike riders obey the traffic laws, do they have a right to ride
where they want when they want?"

"You'd have to be more specific," he replied.

Smolka went on to say the legality of a group of cyclists using
the city streets would depend on "location, time of day, traffic
conditions, weather conditions, what else was going on."

Oliver, the lawyer for the cyclists, notes: "There is nothing in
the law which regulates bike use in certain weather or traffic

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Bicycle Film Festival

jesse, originally uploaded by Green Biker.

Thursday was the premiere of the 5th annual bicycle film festival at the East Village Anthology Film Archives. This eclectic collection of movies based on everything bicycle opened to its usual crowd of bike enthusiasts who formed a line around the movie house. A jazzy band, the Rude Mechanical Orchestra warmed up the crowd with a raucous marching band number. Meanwhile visitors got their bikes free valet parked and were able to get bike month calendars from one of the film festival's main sponsors: Transportation Alternatives. Although for some reason, time's up was not allowed to table. Most of the crowd was on hand to witness the NYC premiere of Still we Ride, a documentary about the recent crack down of the critical mass bike ride. Independent journalists and filmmakers, Andrew Lynn, Elizabeth Press and Christopher Ryan pieced together a very accurate account, using their own experiences and found video footage to tell a intricate story of police misconduct and the struggle of the right to ride.

In the vein of timely protest follow up videos, Still we ride was able to summarize the recent attack on the mass and investigate a very current situation, since this has only been going on since August 04. As an experienced documentary person myself, that is an impressive turnaround to have a completed project in10 months.

The video uses the filmmaker's experiences and found video footage from I-witness video, a group of volunteers who act as video monitors in protest situations.

What's really great about this 40minute project is its ability to connect to dots of the recent police misconduct that has been ongoing, especially since the Republican National Convention protests in August 04. It highlights what were just brief news blurbs into a clear account of how the NYPD has had a systematic approach to treating the critical mass just like any other protest, blatantly disregarding years of friendly, safe and uneventful bike rides. In one brief segment, one of the filmmakers is able to record a conversation with police officers that not only illustrates their cluelessness of the rank-and-file police force but also gives rare insight into their mentality about the critical mass.

I highly recommend everyone see this video. It is definitely a one sided account, but an important record, not just about an attack on a bike ride, but about a city, who has taken a stance against dissent. A stance that appears to claim that it is perfectly acceptable to use the 6th largest standing army in the world, the NYPD, to preemptively arrest, physically assault and lie to the public about people's constitutional rights of free speech and free assembly. This is an important video for all New York City residents to see.

Later that night we all got down to a festive after party on Rivington Street. Here we were tantalized to the sounds of San Francisco bike and skate icon, Ted Shred. A man who not only can bomb hills on a brakeless fix gear but can mash up Don Henley with the Notorious B,I,G, in a Fresh DJ set. After the free dos equis beer ran out and Ted finished his set the rising star Brooklyn based band, "Blonde Red-head" took the stage.

Special thanks to Bicycle Film Festival director: Brendt Barbur for his tireless work in bringing us 5 years of a great visual tribute to the bicycle.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Bike Month in full swing

grandarmyplaza, originally uploaded by Green Biker.

This is a huge weekend for bicycles. It is also Bike Month hosted by Transportation Alternatives and the Department of Transportation. Hmmmm. Interesting that both of these agencies seem to demonize critical mass or don’t want anything to do with the rif-raf who dare to ride their bikes on the last Friday of every month. On top of that turning of the other check attitude, the city is trying to sue time’s up for promoting this supposed illegal bike ride. Funny how both of these agencies spent thousands of dollars on an advertising campaign and color calendar, which promotes the critical mass ride in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Oh the hypocrisy!!! It's great news and great to see this and many cool bike events are listed in the calendar. You can also get the schedule on-line at:

In other news: Washington DC had it's biggest security scare since 9-11. A small aircraft entered the white house air space supposedly lost on route to an air show. The congress had to be evacuated in mid session. An where was our fearless leader who is so actively engaged in monitoring the security of our nation? No, not reading a story to kindergarten kids, he was riding his bicycle. I'm not sure weather to be happy about this or disgusted that our president takes more vacation time then any president we've ever had. He must be exhausted from that road trip promoting the privatization of social security. Good for you Mr. Bush! Ride that bike. He is also best buddies with Lance Armstrong 6 time winner of the tour de France. Again, not sure weather to be disgusted or excited. Not at Lance.

Meanwhile in New York City, police are narrowing in on the novelty grenade bandit who struck the British consulate on the day of England's elections. Looking at fuzzy video footage they discovered a jogger and a cyclist were passing by at the time of the explsion. I think they are getting closer to the mad biking bomber terrorist. Hmmm, I wonder how they’ll spin this against the critical mass? Should we ride past the British consulate on Friday and throw flowers? Maybe the police should investigate video footage from area video surveillance of how a garbage truck killed a cyclist in broad daylight.

So today kicks off the Bicycle Film Festival at the Anthology Film Archives. There is an opening reception at 6:00 and then still we ride is screened. For those that don't know this is a 40 minute informative documentary about how NYC is attacking our constitutional rights to assembly and trying to pass it off as just a mere crack down on an illegal bike ride.

Then there is an after party with the local Brooklyn band: Blonde Rehead.

Info at: including a cool video trailer directed by my good friend: Jesse Epstein.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

First warm night is coming

street_party_metro2, originally uploaded by Green Biker.

What the hell is this...


find out.


Cyclist killed

brandie, originally uploaded by Green Biker.

In tragic news, a 21 year old Brooklyn resident was killed on Sunday (5/8/05) in the afternoon on route to work. The fatal accident occured on Ave A and Houston. Brandie Bailey was struck by a private company sanitation truck who was reported to not even know he had hit the woman. There has been no charges made to the driver of the garbage truck.

Another biker who was close to Brandie wrote briefly about it in his live journal:

This is really sad news and another example the dangers of motor vehicles in New York city. When drunk drivers kill pedestrians they enact new laws, when sober drivers kill bikers, it's just buisness as usual. Often it is the bike rider who is repremanded. In car culture America it is about what the bike rider did wrong in an attempt to blame the victum. Meanwhile bike riders try to gain strength in numbers by partipating in a monthly coming out party know as Critical Mass. Trying to bring awarness to the bicycle and our equal rights to the road. The police demonize us and waste vaulable tax dollars to squash a simple bike ride. We should be congradulated for bring awarness to the bicycle, making for a cleaner environment, less polluted cities, healthier people. Isn't May supposed to be bike month? It used to only be a week and now the Department of Transportation makes full scale advertisements and calanders promoting the bicycle.

There is talk of a bicycle memorial for Brandie...stay tuned for that.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Sick and tired

So I got this comment recently from a bike blogger in California:

"I have gotten so sick of reading, and being told, that Critical Mass "is not an organization, it's an unorganized coincidence. It's a movement ... of bicycles, in the streets", and everyone is encouraged to show up, and just start riding, blah, blah, blah.

Can we stop with that BS for good now?

Time's Up is an activist organiztion, with a major focus on bicycling issues, openly promoting monthly Critical Mass rides.

CM is not leaderless, and unorganized it surely isn't, especially when organizations set up and publicize a CM event.

Time's Up does many good things on behalf of cycling issues, and is to be commended for that, but think for a moment.....

I mean, REALLY THINK....

I'm all for Freedom of Speech, and Assembly, when done in a peacable, non-threatening manner and, most importantly, legally.

And I think bad cops should be punished, as do most cops of my acquaintance.

However, isn't it possible that the reason the city is so focused on CM is that far too often those attending, and even sponsoring, such events, in the USA, and around the world, have agendas far different than the supposed "promoting sustainable environmental solutions" that ordinary "real cyclists" think they are attending these rides to promote?

If Time's Up, and other Bicycle Activism groups, did what was neccessary to ensure their sponsorship of CM kept Anarchists, and other disruptive elements uninterested in better bicycling, out of their events then maybe the rest of us would respect the movement, if not agreeing with its tactics.

CM supporters should use all that energy to make sure that their precious Critical Mass focuses on issues relevent to Bicycling, because as long as it does not entirely do so it does more harm than good to the cause of Bicycling, and the impression many car drivers, law enforcement, and government officials, have of cyclists in general.

The Cycling Dude
Costa Mesa, Ca.

Putting the ING in BICYCLING since January 2003!

Critical Mass coverage:

Here is my response:

Dear cycling dude,

I appreciate your comments and would like a chance to respond. I understand your frustration about defining critical mass, especially in this world of non-democratic hierarchical top-down prepackaged events. I would still have to argue that critical mass is a leaderless event. Just because certain individuals show leadership and promote the ride is no reason to claim that they are in charge and take responsibility for an event that happens in over 300 cities around the world. I do not understand why this sickens you so much? This issue about definition is really coming to a head here in New York City. The police seriously want a definition of critical mass…they are looking for a head in which to chop off. They want to claim Time’s Up is responsible for Critical Mass and they want them to apply for a permit. A federal judge ruled this out because he could find no validity in the cops argument. “Who would ask for a permit?” No one takes responsibility for the ride. I realize Time’s Up is the most prevalent in promoting critical mass, but it is also advertised in Time out magazine, on various blogs, on email list servs…should all those people be held accountable? Should I be held accountable if I go to critical mass and ride at the front of the pack and suggest everyone goes left at the next intersection? The police would love that. The police are so desperate for a leader that they are trying to sue 4 people as the leaders of critical mass, because the cops saw their names a bunch of times in article about Time’s Up. I doubt they will succeed in State court, but this hasn’t stopped them from putting 4 people through legal and financial hell just because they are in search of a black and white-tidy little packaged definition.

Like I say, your frustration is understandable…but what really disturbs me is your ignorance on the crack down of critical mass in NYC. I may have some expertise in this field since I have attended just about every ride since 2000.

This is not just a few bad cops wilding on a Friday night. This is a systematic crack down on descent and on people’s rights of free assembly. This has been going on ever since the twin towers fell. When President George W. Bush and the right wing republicans got a green light to label anything they didn’t like as either terrorism or on the home-front anarchism. This ism words have come in very handy for the police. Our police chief even said, “the ride was peaceful and then it got taken over by anarchists.” Who are these people? I know people who claim to be anarchists, they weren’t being violent on the ride. I’ve been to critical mass in at least five other cities and NYC has always been the calmest and self regulated. Besides this is NYC, if people go around punching SUV windows like they do in Portland Oregon, your libel to get shot. All of this manifested at the Republican National Convention when the same scooter cops who had been friendly and helped facilitate the ride for six years suddenly turned their mopeds into the crowd and started making arrests…violent arrests. 5,000 people attended this event. Was critical mass targeted because it got too popular? Right before the convention a document surfaced called “operation overlord II” This was a manual for cops to use during the RNC to handle large scale demonstrations…in it’s pages is a section on critical mass. So this bike ride has become part of the police’s checklist of things that are to be stopped at demonstrations. Part of there propaganda used to scare the rank-n-file officers, make them not understand that this is a peaceful bike ride and not a group of hooded anarchists breaking windows and hating the W.T.O. These are commands that stem from the mayor and chief of police who think it is an appropriate response to the bike ride to turn the city into a police state. Every Friday night since RNC in August 2004 it has been a terror to ride your bike. Never knowing if an undercover will leap off his bike and throw you to the ground or if you’ll be given a 200 fine for running a red light even if your no where near the ride. Not knowing that if you bike is locked up a cop may come an cut your lock and confiscate your property. This is the world we are living in. This is what should make you sick and tired.

I am so sick and tired of people scapegoating anarchists or ecoterrorists when the can’t just sit down and think about what it means to have a constitution and the fact that you don’t need a leader or a permit to ride your bicycle with a group of people on a Friday night.

Maybe this will help you think more about critical mass…I mean really think.

I pray the WTO, the IMF or the RNC never comes to Costa Mesa California, because all of your rights will be suspended and we can all blame it on anarchists.

Michael Green
Not the leader of critical mass

Still we ride

by Still We Ride
Email: (unverified!) 08 May 2005
For Immediate Release

STILL WE RIDE Opens the Bicycle Film Festival with a Focus on Free Speech

Thursday May 12
7 and 9pm
Anthology Film Archives
2nd Ave and 2nd Street

info (at)
May 12, 2004 - Opening night of the Bicycle Film Festival will rally the
cycling community around unjust arrests and put the focus on free speech.

It will not fall on the last Friday of the month, but the opening night of
the Fifth Annual Bicycle Film Festival is sure to bring out New York City’s
cycling community and supporters who are anxious to view the first cut of
Still We Ride, the new documentary by Elizabeth Press, Andrew Lynn, and
Christopher Ryan.

The ongoing crackdown on the monthly Critical Mass bike rides has resulted
in hundreds of arrests and bike seizures since August 2004, but it has also
brought bikers, environmentalists, lawyers, free speech activists, and
elected officials together to stand up against the City’s attack on peoples’
rights to freely assemble. Still We Ride is an eye-opening and resilient 40
minute collage of imagery and voices captured by a network of more than 20
independent videographers and legal observers who have been documenting the
event relentlessly since the police got heavily involved last year.

If you want to find yourself in the midst of those most closely affected by
this struggle and get an up-close and personal look at Critical Mass in NYC,
then Anthology Film Archives is the place to be on Thursday, May 12. Still
We Ride will be screening at 7pm and 9pm in a program with several other
short films and videos. The Bicycle Film Festival, which runs at Anthology
through May 15, promises to bring plenty of bicycle culture to the big

About Still We Ride

The story begins on Friday August 27, 2004 in New York City, just days
before the start of the Republican National Convention, when 264 people were
arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and parading without a permit
during the monthly bicycle celebration. But unlike the majority of the
RNC-related arrests, which have been dismissed, bicycle-related arrests and
bike seizures at monthly Critical Mass rides have persisted. Most recently,
in April of 2005, there were 34 arrests. March saw 37 arrests and even more
bike seizures. The monthly pattern of confrontation has forced the bike
community into a legal battle with the city and has politicized the once
celebratory ritual. The city believes that the event, which has no
leadership organization or planned route must apply for a permit in order
for cyclists to assemble and ride through the streets. “You’re blocking
traffic,” says the assistant chief Smolka, in one scene. A cyclist replies,
“I am traffic! What do you mean?”

Lawyers on the cyclists’ side recognize that selective enforcement of such
laws represent not only a threat to cyclists’ rights to the road as
legitimate vehicles, but to peoples’ first amendment right to assemble
freely in parks and other public spaces. In the words of an interviewee who
was arrested on the night of August 27, “I saw my experience not so much as
something that happened to me, but as a window of opportunity for greater
suppression of rights in this country.”
See also:

Warriors...come out and see a movie

Warriors, originally uploaded by Green Biker.

Ok, I'm not just going to promote this movie because I worked on it, slaving away for a couple of weeks editing the thing (along with Chris Ryan and Jesse Epstein)
I'm not going to tell you to see this video because I was in the Warriors bike race and it was by far one of the most fun I've ever had in New York City. The reason you should see this because it is rare. This person, who shall go unnamed, lent us a bunch of the video footage he gathered for the event with the sole purpose that it would be used for the Bicycle film festival only. Well that was last year, when the video premiered. Now it is being shown again as part of the 5th annual bicycle film festival's greatest hits. There are some ownership issues with the footage so we can't just screen this thing when ever we feel like it.

So if you get a chance you should see this video and I would highly recommend trying to see as much of the bicycle film festival as possible. It is a great time and a chance to see really unique videos about bikes, bike messengers and bike culture from around the world.

Space is limited for all events, so it is recommended to get tickets on line.

The Warriors bike race was an event planned by bike messengers basically to recreate the experience and pay homage to a great NYC cult classic film, "the Warriros" This event was open to all, you just needed a bike and a gang of 7 of your friends willing to follow a route based on the movie from 7pm till 7am.

800 people participated in the event from all corners of the globe. It met at a park in the Bronx and then ended up in Coney Island at sunup.

Definitely one of the greatest events I've ever attended.

The Bicycle Film Festival is running from Thursday, May 12th-14th. On Saturday there is a bike parade from Madison Park to the Anthology Film Archives. (I hope to have my tall bike fixed in time)

More info at:

Saturday, May 07, 2005

A comprehensive report on the April Critical Mass

The villager is a local Manhattan rag that has been very comprehensive on reporting on recent Critical Mass and bike legal defense issues.

Here is the latest:

Critical Mass tries new tactics, but not the police

By Lincoln Anderson
The Villager | 04-May-2005

The monthly Critical Mass started out differently than usual
last Friday night. There was a rally for cyclists' civil rights,
followed by a blessing of arrested cyclists. And instead of
one big departure from Union Sq., the riders left from four
different sites. But the city's response didn't change: Police
showed no signs of backing down from their hard-line stance,
making 34 arrests.

The night also saw what some called a "standoff" between East
Villagers and riot-gear-clad police officers at E. Sixth St.
and Avenue A, where police handcuffed and briefly arrested a
New York Times reporter.

Before the ride, a "Still We Speak" rally was held in Union Sq.
in response to the city's recent court action to try to bar four
members of the Time's Up! group from publicizing Critical Mass.

"We submit bike riding without a permit is not unlawful," said
civil rights attorney Norman Siegel at the rally.

Siegel said they plan to file a counterclaim in state court next
month against the city's lawsuit against the bicyclists. The
city is arguing that Critical Mass needs to get a permit to ride
and a permit to gather in the park. Siegel said they'll continue
to hold rallies before the monthly rides.

"We have to say, 'No way. We have a right to be here. We have
the right to speak,'" he said. "Critical Mass will not stop."

Councilmember Margarita Lopez, who represents Union Sq., the
riders' usual departure point, and other areas of Downtown that
the unscripted Critical Mass events often travel through,
announced she is introducing four pieces of legislation to close
administrative code loopholes police are using to arrest the

"We know that in this country selective use of the law is not
acceptable," Lopez said. "All of these pieces of legislation I'm
looking into have one thing in common -- it's protecting the
Constitution, the right to ride bikes, the right to stand in
here [Union Sq., a city park]. The right to private property --
you can't even lock your bike [without police cutting the
lock]." Lopez vowed not to allow "a single loophole" to remain.

In blessing the cyclists, Reverend Billy preached, "You're
pedaling your bodies out into a city that has forgotten the
First Amendment." He prayed to "the goddess that knows how to
fix bicycles" for their safety.

Police presence around Union Sq. was heavy. But the cyclists had
already planned to split up and also depart from three other
points -- Tompkins Sq., Washington Sq. and Madison Sq. Word got
out that police were waiting out of sight around Union Sq. and
planned to "arrest everyone with a bicycle" in the square. A
line of police mopeds were parked in front of Barnes and Noble
on 17th St. as a loudspeaker truck warned riders they would be
arrested for "riding in a procession without a permit."

The group of cyclists that left from Madison Sq. cruised east
then down through the East Village and across to the West
Village. Moods were high as police were nowhere in sight. There
was some opportunity to enjoy spinning through the city and
comment on the scenery, though not all of it inspired positive

Zack Winestine, a Greenwich Village community activist, could
be heard fuming about a "monstrosity" as the group passed the
new, mirrored-glass Gwathmey-Siegel tower on Astor Pl., angrily
muttering that a version of it was now being slated for the
Greenwich Village waterfront.

"This is where Edgar Allan Poe got his morphine and laudanum
fix -- the Northern Dispensary," announced Matt Levy, as they
whizzed along Waverly Pl. "It's my job to know this stuff. I'm
a tour guide," said Levy, sporting a kaiserlike moustache and
a Tyrolean hat.

Joel Pomerantz, a mural organizer from San Francisco, said he
delayed his flight to Europe for an extra day so he could ride
in the New York City Critical Mass. He's been riding in the San
Francisco Critical Mass since its start in 1992, he said. About
five years ago, police there gave up trying to rein in the ride
and realized it was easier to just let it happen, he said.

"They just have a few police ride along at the end -- to show
they have some control," he said.

The group spread out across avenues, forcing cars to slow down
for several blocks, then peeled off onto sidestreets. But as a
bus came up behind them, there were yells of "Bus! Left! Left!"
and they opened a way for mass transit to get through. The
rides block traffic to send a message that bikes have a right
to safety on the road, and to feel powerful, too. There was a
report of one cyclist being rammed by an angry motorist during
the event, but the biker was uninjured.

On Hudson St., the Madison Sq. group merged with the Washington
Sq. group to cheers -- the bikers communicate by cell phone
and text messaging to keep track of their own and the police's
whereabouts. Then they headed Uptown, all the way to Columbus
Circle, which they rounded twice, while shouting "Stop Shopping!
Start Biking!" as they flew past the Shops at Columbus Center in
the AOL Time Warner Building. "Stop Eating! Start Biking!" they
called out while speeding by restaurants.

But things began to be less fun in East Midtown after three
undercover officers on bikes tailing the ride radioed for police
mopeds to cut off and trap the Critical Mass at 46th St. and
Madison Ave. The pack was broken up and smaller groups of riders
headed back Downtown, with arrests being made as police picked
off riders at various locations.

Obert Wood, a banker who lives in the East Village, said when
they fled the police at 46th St., the officers yelled at them,
"What are you doing, girls?" Not very professional, he and a few
other riders with him who had managed to elude arrest, thought.

Earlier, Colin Moynihan, a Times reporter, was arrested after
he had been standing at E. Sixth St. and Avenue A interviewing
someone while covering the story. According to John Penley,
an East Village activist who witnessed the event, an officer
shoved Moynihan as police were clearing the corner and Moynihan
asked for the officers' badge number three times, after which
a group of officers threw him on top of a police car trunk and
handcuffed him.

Moynihan, who was released without any charges, declined

Penley claimed he had started things by yelling at police after
he saw them walking an arrested biker up Sixth St. Penley said
right before that he'd seen three vans full of police roar up
Avenue A and almost hit people, and he became indignant at the
idea of hundreds of police chasing around the cyclists. Soon a
crowd of East Villagers were shouting at the police, he said.

"Actually, it was me that started the whole thing going over
there," Penley said. "I started yelling at the cops about what
a waste it was of our tax dollars to have vanloads of cops and
helicopters following people around the neighborhood -- and that
people like the bikers in the neighborhood. It was just yuppies
and old ladies yelling about it. People clearly see it as a big
waste of time and money and don't support it." Apparently some
police might agree: "A white shirt [supervising officer] came
over and told me, "I'd rather not be doing this," -- Penley

Penley said three or four vanloads of police came in quickly and
cleared the corners, during which Moynihan was "shoved pretty

Meanwhile, Alina de Laforcade, an artist whose boyfriend runs
Holyland grocery store on St. Mark's Pl., said that in Paris --
as in San Francisco -- the city is taking a more cooperative
approach to a mass, human-powered event. Every Saturday in
Paris, she said, "20,000 people" rollerblade around the city,
up and down the Rue St. Germain and Champs Elysees, in a giant
pack and that police facilitate it.

"The police, like, stop traffic so this group can go and
rollerblade," she said, as she showed some of her psychedelic,
black-light murals to Noah Rider, a member of the St. Mark's
Pl. Art Commune. "So you have a car, you have to wait five or 10
minutes. But it's fun to see -- 20,000 rollerbladers. C'mon,
hello!," she said, as if to say this was obvious.

But New York isn't Paris, it's not even San Francisco, and
under the Bloomberg administration the police are still chasing
Critical Mass.

Speaking of Bloomberg, Bill DePaolo, a Time's Up! member, was
giving out stickers at the start of the ride: "I Bike and I
Vote," they said.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Still we get reported on

Still we get reported on, originally uploaded by Green Biker.

Once again the Critical Mass Bike ride is in the New York Times Metro Section. My compliments to this paper's constant interest in the issues that effect the New York City cycling community and the erosion of civil liberties.

Flouting Arrest on 2 Wheels, for the Monthly Crime of Pedaling Without a Permit

Published: May 4, 2005

BARBARA ROSS is 41 and lives on the Lower East Side. Several times a week, she straps on a blue helmet and rides her bicycle through the streets of this city. What a troublemaker.
It doesn't matter that she works in human resources for a large company, or that she votes and has a dog named Doc. Just check her name in the criminal justice database: two arrests within the last year, both while in possession of that insidious, two-wheeled invention, the bicycle - also known as a bike.
Ms. Ross was nearly arrested a third time in March, but used her wiles to get out of a jam. Seeing the heat coming down the street, she chained her bicycle to a pole and ducked into a bar. All she could do was watch the sparks fly, as police officers cut the heavy chain with a special tool and confiscated her bicycle.
"I'm just an everyday person," she said yesterday. "But I like to ride my bike."
She even admits it. Typical bicyclist.
This city usually works like a trusty old bicycle, always able to shift gears for difficult hills on the horizon. But lately the wheels are not spinning smoothly. Something is broken.
For more than a decade now, cities around the world have accommodated a monthly event called Critical Mass, in which bicyclists ride en masse through the streets to enjoy themselves, promote transportation alternatives, and send the message that roadways are not just for cars. A supposed charm of these rallies is that no one is in charge. They are, like, organic.
The police here used to tolerate the rally, which takes place on the last Friday of every month. Officers sometimes held off traffic as a cycling cluster wheeled out of Union Square Park and looped through Manhattan streets. You would see parents cycling beside their children, and even a tandem or two.
All that changed last year. In late July, some cyclists caught the police unawares by disrupting traffic on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive. And in late August, on the eve of the Republican National Convention, a few of the thousands of rallying cyclists violated traffic laws and purposely blocked crosstown traffic in a practice called "corking." Scores were arrested, though very, very few of the charges stuck.
The police then tried to find a Critical Mass leader to establish an agreed-upon route and other ground rules. They were told that no one is in charge, although a direct-action group called Time's Up! promotes the monthly event on its Web site. Besides, a predetermined route would, like, violate the spontaneous spirit of the rally.
Uh-huh, said the police.
After years of allowing Critical Mass rallies to take place, the police began arguing that the event required a parade permit; without one, participants were subject to arrest. The department began using a helicopter above and orange netting below to play a crazed cat-and-mouse game playing out on pavement. Hundreds of otherwise law-abiding cyclists have now looked forlornly out the backs of police wagons.
THE cyclists bear some responsibility, of course. A few seem to enjoy taunting the police as much as they do running red lights. "And when you press them about observing the lights, they say you wouldn't arrest somebody driving a car," Paul J. Browne, the deputy police commissioner for public information, said. "It's sort of: We're breaking the law on one hand, but on the other, we're being treated more harshly than motorists."
But Ms. Ross, who is a volunteer with Time's Up!, spoke for many when she said that cyclists are essentially being arrested for minor traffic violations that would normally warrant only a summons. "If I went through a red light and got a ticket," she said, "what could I say?"
It's no longer about traffic flow, though. It's about control.
Once a month now, the police - who say they are willing to facilitate the rides if permits are obtained - surround Union Square. A chopper hovers above to track rogue packs of cyclists. Officers stand ready to snare bikers with netting, or to confiscate hurriedly abandoned bicycles. They arrested 34 people at Friday's ugly rally.
Meanwhile, city lawyers are seeking an injunction to prohibit Time's Up! from publicizing the monthly gatherings. Their astounding logic is that the cyclists gather in Union Square Park before each rally; large gatherings in city parks require special permits; no permits are being sought. Therefore, publicizing an unlawful event is - unlawful.
The wheels of this city are not spinning smoothly. Something is broken. The next rally is on May 27. It's a good thing that people on both sides wear helmets.