Monday, October 31, 2005

Another Cyclist Killed

This comes off nyc.indymedia's news wire from NYCbr:
QUEENS: RESTAURANT WORKER KILLED IN CRASH A busboy bicycling home from work was killed by a drunken driver in Flushing on Saturday night, the police said yesterday. The busboy, left, identified as Angel Quizphi, 24, of Corona, was struck by a blue van as he traveled west on Northern Boulevard near Prince Street shortly after 11 p.m., the police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver, Yung Choe, 37, of 45-51 156th Street in Flushing, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and vehicular manslaughter, the police said. Mr. Quizphi's fiancée, Nancy Lazo-Padilla, 26, said he had immigrated from Ecuador five years ago. "He always comes home, he never stays out, that's why I was worried," she said.
Michael Wilson (NYT)

October 31, 2005 03:18AM EST [general.addtranslation] Download Article (PDF)
Calling all Cyclists!

October 31st: Today is call-in day.

By nycbkr

FreeWheels urges you to call your councilmember today to demand that the NYPD stop arresting and harrassing cyclists.

Keywords: Government, Culture, Alternatives, Local, Critical Mass, Elections, Law, Global Warming, Space, Activism, Police & Prisons, Civil Rights,

Tell your City Councilmember and the Mayor (Mike "Ride your bike to work!" Bloomberg) that we demand accountability from our elected officials! Demand that they ease up, stop arresting cyclists, and start accounting for their behavior over the course of the past year and change. CALL YOUR COUNCIL MEMBER on October 31st. You can find the Councilperson for your district by going to and putting in your address.

Go to WWW.BICYCLEDEFENSEFUND.ORG for more details.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Alley cats galore and Bike Kill 05

The crew from Track Star working a checkpoint at Bike Kill. Races had to smell the bloody underwear.

Right Behind the brand new Home Depot in Bed-stuy Brooklyn, doing its part to put all small hardware stores out of buisness, and give lots of jobs to people for minuim wage is Sanford St. This was the site of this years BIKE KILL, hosted by the Black Label Bike Gang of Brooklyn It was also the site of one of the check points for "La Calavera" alley cat race hosted by Track star This was a mammoth three hour race not for the faint at heart which cross-crossed its way in and out of Brooklyn and Manhattan.

There were mad alley cats happening all over the world on this Halloween weekend.

check out This is a great site that lists all the races.
Here is one in Berlin which is supposed to be the Biggest of the year in Europe.
Portland Oregon
another flyer from a Toronto Race.
Home Depot was nice enough to lend us one of their shopping carts for Bike Kill.

While lost messengers raced into Sanford St looking for the checkpoint. Mutant Bikes galore rampaged in the Bike Kill.

Some of the gangs in attendance were:

Chunk 666
The Butt Scratchers
Rat Patrol
Cut Throats.

Pictures can be found at:
Nyc indymedia
and my flickr page which I still have to make...but now i have to go to work.
World's oldest bike gang member...Danzig
Chicken race with Chunk 666

Saturday, October 29, 2005

London Critical Mass Video

Here is a video of Last Nights UK Critical Mass. Seems like a lot of stopping and partying...ah the good ol days.

Windows Media Player video of London Critical Mass

Halloween Critical Mass...Hope we didn't (Bug) you.

Mutant Bugs on chopper bikes were unleashed on the city of New York last night for the annual Halloween Critical Mass. This has always been the most festive fun bike ride in New York City. Past rides have featured thousands of people in costumes with sound systems, tall bikes and all forms of creative energy celebrating our truly unique community. After over a year of police harassment and intimidation, with varied tactics, it has been very hard to predict what the NYPD is going to do about the Critical Mass. Will I get arrested tonight? This is the question in the backs of many of those in attendance. This can effect how willing you are to come to the ride. Well last night people seemed to be back in the action despite several helicopters flying overhead and the usual brigade of scooter cops. There were about 30 people at Washington Square Park, 50 at Tompkins Square, 12 at Madison Park and about 300 combined at both ends of Union Square Park. Bug man.Crap Cook, serving up all the bad news from Fox News.
This was in accordance with the attempt to split up the ride a little and at least be able to get critical mass going. The idea stemmed out of the fact that people weren't even able to get 2 blocks out of Union Square park and thus form critical mass. It sounded like last night the police were around to monitor but the arrest order, for some reason wasn't given. Maybe no one wanted to do the paper work tonight on this long Halloween weekend. I don't enjoy being part of a split up ride. I would much rather have everyone meet together remembering the fun of critical mass on Halloween and how it was great to just sort of congregate in Union Square and peep everyone's costume. But, sometimes you got to mix it up a little bit. The idea of the separate meeting spots is to try and find the other rides. This wasn't so successful last night. The group of 30 I was with spent a long time looking for what we heard was two other groups of 200 who were uptown. I could tell people in my group were confused and moral was getting low as we snaked our way through traffic with a small group that could barely hold 2 lanes. It seemed our only salvation was to find a big group and link up...this is what critical mass is supposed to be all about. Finally around 50th Street and the 3rd Ave we got word that the another big ride was going through Time's Square. The group decided to cut west and intersect. This required a little combination of slow riding and waiting. As we were going down 5th Ave. we were taking up the whole street. We linked up with a crew from Madison Park and it was nice to see new faces even though they were only like 20 people. I hope people realize what is being attempted here and it is not some type of coop by a few individuals to make critical mass boring and lame. Ok so coming down 5th we ran into this agro bus driver who wanted to plow us all down. This wasn't a MTA bus but a private charter bus with seniors form Atlantic City...(not sure about that part) We were trying our best not to block the bus lane and I encouraged people to move to the left. 5th Ave. heads downtown and there are two bus lanes. I could understand the driver's plight, but come on. There is no reason to try and kill people. So at 42nd street we stopped the bus and tried to make peace with him and let him know what we are trying to do and in a sense tell him to..."CHILL THE FUCK OUT." He wasn't havin it and decided to run over someone's bike. What a fucking asshole. I would like to know how that all played out. So we continued down 5th, turned west, started going up 6th, turned left on 39th and then started up Broadway, to intersect with the ride. A couple of undercover followed us to be greeted by 200 people coming out of Time's Square. I told them to call their boss and let em know we were going downtown. So we all rode down Broadway towards Union Square with three groups now unified. There was another group of about 200, which had also gone through Time's Square and were left alone. Here is a picture from Eva from one Time's Square group.
So we got to Union Square which has always been a no no to return to the lion's den and some people yelled out that they saw a row of scooter cops. The whole ride turned around on Union Square East which involved some hoping over the meridian steeplechase style.Team tandem with Ninja Turtle.
After that we all kind of scattered and head to the Time's Up space for their fundraiser and after party. The party was a huge sucess, raised some money, heard the rude mechanical orchestra and best of all did not get raided by the NYPD like last year when they closed off all of Houston Street and had a cop outside the door with a shotgun. Some undercovers did come to the party but they paid their five bucks so they helped out Time's Up.Super heroes at the party...Super 8 and Team Spider Man
Time's Up fundraiser.
Jesse and the Bug
Here are a picture of the undercovers. Notice the thin silver beaded chain around one of their necks...most likely a badge. Thanks for the support guys.

I did find a cell phone on the ride that appears to be a biker. It has a picture of a red fix gear and says Ars Bike Crew when you open up the phone. It is a Sprint Samsung phone with white paint on the leather case. Let me know. I will be trying to call the numbers. I will have this phone at the bike kill today.

Not sure all that went down in London. It looks like that had a big critical mass with no harassment from the Cops.

As far as the $100 dollar entry fee "All about the Benjamin's," Alley Cat race that also happened last night I do not know who won. I did get a report that famed videographer Lucus Brunelle, who is know for strapping cameras to his helmet and documenting alley cats was injured last night in the race. He was not shooting video and was in it to win it. He flipped over the hood of a car and was hospitalized. He is conscious and in stable condition at NYU Medical downtown. I hope Lucus is ok and recovers quickly. Lucus's Video Page

Here is some old news about the ticketing that went on for two days before Critical Mass.

This article comes from AM New York paper. Also they advertised for Critical Mass as part of their Halloween Guide...hmmm isn't that what Time's Up is being sued for?!?!?

Halloween Critical Mass
Union Sq Pk, 7pm, FREE. You gotta bike for your right to party.
But be prepared to be arrested. Meet at E 17th St at Union Sq W

And then p5 again in AM NY. Great quotes from Bill and Kim

Bicyclists say police strictly enforce rules
Bicyclists say police have been heavily ticketing them. (Getty)(Getty)

amNewYork Staff Writer

Bicycle messengers working in midtown yesterday complained bitterly
about what they perceived as an unusually strict police crackdown. "I
was stopped Tuesday morning on Sixth Avenue by a cop who asked for my
I.D.," said cyclist Kim Perfetto. "When I asked why, he told me
because I was riding my bike without a bell." "Do cars get pulled over
just for having a broken horn?" said Perfetto, who was issued a $35
ticket for riding "without a warning device."

In addition to Perfetto, another four cyclists were seen being
ticketed during a short period yesterday morning along Sixth Avenue.
"The level of intimidation we've seen the past few days just
discourages people from riding," said Bill DiPaola, of Time's Up!, a
cycling advocacy group. Police said strict enforcement of the bicycle
code was routine. "We may do it in one area today and another area
tomorrow," said Det. Walter Burns, a police spokesman. Burns stressed
that riders must follow all traffic laws that apply to motor vehicles
and that anyone breaking these rules could be ticketed at any time.
But many riders insisted the heat was definitely turned up. "Word from
cops on the street is that there is heightened enforcement of bikers
going on just this week," said Noah Bidnick of advocacy group
Transportation Alternatives

Friday, October 28, 2005

Critical Mass / Time's Up wants your support Tonight

Tonight is Critical Mass-Special Halloween Dress up ride...there will probably be many people dressed up in blue...but they are not in costume. Time's Up wanted me to remind you that tonight after critical mass is there fundraiser. This amazing environmental group has been servicing the community for 18 years with free bike rides, education and hard work grass root organizing for a better environment. Tonight is there one night were they really ask for donations, so come to the party at 49 East Houston St. at 8pm. It's 5.00, no one will be turned away. Pay more if you can. Should be a great time.

Also, one of the film makers from Still We Ride is continuing to cover the ongoing attack on critical mass and wanted to pass on this annoucement to those across the Atlantic.

hi uk shooters,

my name is Chris, sometimes referred to as Team Spider, others as The
Lost Viking, i have been covering the ongoing CRIMINALIZATION of the
Critical Mass bikes rides in NYC for the last 4 years or so.

I recently heard that this month's LONDON CRITICAL MASS RIDE has been
served notice & that there will be arrests. I would like to hook up
with a London shooter to cover this turn of events. I will be
shooting in NYC, where the police have already begun systematically
ticketing cyclists since earlier in the week .

I was one of the creators of the documentary: STILL WE RIDE, as well
the movie WARRIORS: THE BIKE RACE. People familiar with those
films, and my personal style will know that whether I am lost in the
Bronx in a Viking Costume, or taping from handcuffed hands in a paddy
wagon, i manage to get good stuff, and capture a sense what the hell
is happening, even if i don't quite know.

If you are of the same ilk,
-a.k.a. slightly retarded, talented, very experienced
-and want to be a London Correspondant for the ongoing story...
( which i honestly hope does not continue over to the UK)

please contact me.

must be good at
-filming while being pursued,
-interviewing passerbys,
-getting police to tell you what they really think, and
-several other skills best left unsaid.

feel free to forward this to anyone with a heart, a bike, a brick,
and a proximity to a camera shop with plate glass windows.


Also here is a story from News Day about the bad reaction of Rapper Foxy Brown at a critical Mass. I have video of this and need to get it out there.


Foxy Brown was hit-and-run driver, ex-friend says


October 28, 2005

A former friend of Foxy Brown came out swinging Thursday, claiming the
rap diva conspired to blame her for a Manhattan hit-and-run accident
14 months ago.

Clothing designer Ayesha Ouattara, 37, speaking through her lawyer,
said Brown -- not her -- was at the wheel of a Land Rover when it
struck two bicyclists on West Houston Street during a Critical Mass
cyclists' ride on Aug. 27, 2004.

At the time, the group in the vehicle was rushing from one Louis
Vuitton shop to another, trying to reach the second shop before it
closed because Brown, 25, wanted to buy something, according to
Ouattara's lawyer, Donald Birnbaum.

Ouattara was arrested in October and charged with two counts of
leaving the scene of an accident.

"Foxy tried to pressure Ayesha," said Birnbaum, who was in State
Supreme Court in Manhattan Thursday with his client. "There was
influence brought to bear on her. Other people also put pressure on

But Ouattara is holding her ground, Birnbaum said. He asserted that
Brown and others conspired to lie about Brown's involvement and blame
Ouattara for the incident.

"I am very certain my client is innocent," Birnbaum said. "I am also
very certain my client will be vindicated. Foxy put all kinds of
pressure on Ayesha for her to take the weight, and Ayesha is not
taking the weight for anybody."

Brown's lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, disputed the accusations, noting that
Ouattara was working as a driver for Brown. After the incident, she
was fired, he said.

"The bottom line is, Foxy was not driving that car," Tacopina said,
describing Ouattara as "the disgruntled employee who's trying to get
out-from-under by switching things around."

One of the cyclists hit by the Land Rover, Matthew Campau, 36, was not
injured. The second victim, Robert Herschenfeld, 38, suffered a minor
leg injury. Both are from Williamsburg.

Herschenfeld, a building designer, told Newsday on Tuesday that he saw
a woman get out of the Land Rover and yell an insulting phrase against
white homosexuals. Then the woman got back in the vehicle and the
driver hit the gas, striking Herschenfeld and Campau.

Herschenfeld remembered someone yelling out, "Hey, that's Foxy Brown."

At the time, he said, he knew nothing about Foxy Brown. Later, he saw
her picture on the Internet and realized she was the woman who had
yelled at the crowd. Herschenfeld said he wasn't sure if Brown had
been behind the wheel.

Birnbaum said that after the incident Ouattara persuaded Brown to let
her drive. Several blocks later, Ouattara was involved in an accident
of her own that caused no injuries.

The lawyer said she cooperated with police, who at the time ignored
other bicyclists who had caught up to the Rover and told officers that
Brown had struck two men minutes earlier.

Copyright (c) 2005, Newsday, Inc.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Block(s) is Hot.

So the NYPD are cracking down on bicycles in the Herald Square area. 34th and 6th Ave. We have gotten reports that bike cops and beat cops are making it a priority of harassing cyclists, difinitely a form of "selective enforcement," since traffic violations occur in this city every second. You can get pulled over by a cop and written a summons for not having a bell while 10 cars are parked in the bike lane, 15 chinese food guys ride the wrong way and 100 people jaywalk...which yes, is a crime. Its when these laws are enforced. Some say they think this is gearing up for critical mass tomorrow. I'm not sure. I got a ticket in that area about 4 years ago and it seemed like it was quota time when it happened. I was merely riding my bike side saddle across 6th Ave. to lock it up to a pole. Actually the cop was going to probably let me go but I was being rude and refused to show him id. He say my chain attached to my wallet and asked..."well what's that?" I think the cops just get certain time periods when they make money off bikes. Personally I feel this is just part of how the city works. For the most part, throughout the year, bikes go unnoticed even when they are run over by garbage trucks...but then once a year or so the cops check their policeman's ball fund and realize they are a little short and have to find someone to pick on. Sometimes its the Chinese watch salesmen on Canal St. Sometimes its the African watch guys with the briefcases, sometimes, oh yes it is the cars and the cops bust everyone for making an illegal turn on such and such a street, even though they wave you across the intersection. Does this change anything? Do the chinese stop selling fake rolexs to Europeans? This is not to belittle the ongoing harassment of cyclists in this city steming from critical mass. Yes this could be a reaction. So do be careful around 6th Ave. I rode through there around 2:00pm and didn't see anything unusual. Coming down Broadway I saw a messenger who was about to loose his hat out of his bag. I rode along side him to alert him. He said, rather frantic..."running from the cops." I said..."red light?" He responded..."wrong way!" So keep your head up and watch for cops. The first thing to remember is Bike Cops are not your friend. Don't think. Hey we're both on bikes right? Wrong. It is the bike cops who are assigned to ticket bicycle violations. If you are stoped, don't be id, there is a good chance they might let you go not feeling the stupid assignment they've been given. It sounds like this is the real deal. There is a good chance the cop won't show up in court and the sentence can be reduced or dismissed. My cop showed up and there was a whole line of bikers waiting to go before the judge. I lost and paid the fine. I guess it wasn't my day. Here is a posting on Craig's list sent from Dan WARNING ! LOOK OUT FOR COPS!! TICKETS ARE FLYING!! - $30

New York's Finest are swarming Sixth Avenue today handing out tickets to bikes. They'll get you for going the wrong way, riding without a bell, riding without reflectors, and their favorite, not riding in the bike lane.

Higest concentration is in the 20s, 30s and 40s. Every damn block, there they are. Bike cops and regular beefy beat cops. I saw at least 10 different groups of cops pulling people over.

I got a $30 citation for riding on the right side of the street and while I was waiting for my ticket, they pulled over two other guys. The cop told me it's an operation running through tomorrow (Friday).

If possible, stay the hell off Sixth Ave. If you must, be careful. Riding the wrong way is $150.

One cop made some cryptic comment about how if I didn't like a ticket, I should think about who to vote for next month. "I'm not telling you who to vote for, I'm just saying," the cop said. What, is Ferrer some big bike advocate? Strange.

Anyhow, BE CAREFUL. It's a WAR ZONE.

Here is what the messengers say on the NYBMA website:

Heightened ticketing
The NYPD is ratcheting up their ticketing policy, ostensibly in preparation for this weekend. Judith got two tickets today. One for a red light - one for not being in the bike lane. Keep your eyes open for the next few days. They've got orders from the top to ticket bikers for anything. Avoid 6th Avenue in midtown if you possibly can.

words of wisdom. Maybe they are gearing up for the weekend.
Remember kids...Al Qeada hates our freedom and they especially hate Halloween.
and Karl Rove might possibly face any kind of inflated terrorism alert is likely at anytime with no likely credible source, at least that the public will be told about.

Happy Halloween!

Cincinnati Alley Cat

Alley cat races are popping up all over. Here is a new one in Cincinnati, hosted by the flying pig courier company.
flying pig alley cat

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Ok this is going to be quite a weekend for bikes. Halloween weekend. Here are the upcoming events for the NYC area.

Friday October 28th. NYC Halloween Critical Mass. 4 meet-up spots. Washington Square Park, Union Square Park, Madison Park and Tompkin Square Park. Meet 7:00pm. Wear a costume. What could be more scary than running around the city on bikes being chased by the NYPD?!?! The cops will try and spoil the fun but critical mass is not illegal, riding your bike in a group without a permit is not illegal. Running a red light should be a traffic violation and should be dealt with by a ticket at the scene of the violation. So dress up and ride your bike.

Friday October 28th. Times Up Halloween Fundraiser and Dance Party 8pm 49 East Houston St. between Mott and Mulberry in NYC. $5.00

Here is the deal:

Put on your scariest costume and join us for the Annual Halloween
Fundraising After-Party (sliding scale $5 to 5 million) following the Halloween Critical Mass!

Rude Mechanical Orchestra - DJ Suggested D - Prizes for Best Costume
- Free Valet Bike Parking - Scary Surprises - Silent Auction

Come celebrate Halloween with TIME'S UP! Environmental Group
commemorating 19 years of serving you and the community. This has
been a stellar year for TIME'S UP! In addition to our popular
outdoor events and campaigns, this year we also began to expand by
offering you indoor events, like bike repair workshops three (3)
times a week.

Because of TIME'S UP!'s temporary storefront location, we've been
able to grow to over 100 volunteers and we're offering more indoor
educational workshops: everything from silk screening and sewing, to
welding and bicycle repair. All workshops are open to the public.
And thanks to our many dedicated volunteers, we have been able to
offer these events and workshops for free.

As you know, TIME'S UP! is a non-profit organization that runs on
your donations. We need you to help us preserve our current
activities and to expand our programs and events. We are also
looking for a new space, which is a major project in itself. If you
have any leads on spaces or interest in helping find space and raise
money for the move, your input would be greatly valued.

If you cannot make it to our fundraising party, please visit our
website to make a tax-deductible donation at


October 2005 has been among the wettest months on record in New
York. In 2005, we have also seen more prevalent and intense
tropical storms than ever before in history. Not only has this been
the first hurricane season to see three Category 5 storms, but these
three (Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma) are among the six most
intense tropical cyclones ever to form in the Atlantic basin.

From floods to drought, the result of years of careless pollution is
now being seen and felt around the world. Global warming, extreme
weather, and intense climate change are undeniable -- and are now
part of our present and our future.

Instead of resisting this impending truth, we need to work together
for the future of our community and planet. The time is right for

Renewable and sustainable energy resources are widely available, and
it is time to access and promote these new innovative and important

Act local, think global... help fund your friendly neighborhood
activist group.

At the same time as Critical Mass and the Time's Up after party, is the begining of an amazing weekend of messenger events.
First off is a winner take all $100.00 per person alley cat race sponsered by the NYBMA "all about the benjamins"
Friday October 28th Columbus Circle 6:30pm registration, 7:30pm Racetime. "Put your money where your Mouth is"
Then go to Capone's Bar at 229 North 9th Street for Gold Sprints and beer.

Black Label is also doing events on the 28th check it out:

Bike Kill events flyer

This Brings Us to Saturday October 29th...
2 choices (both intersect)
Black Label Bike club is having a bike kill:

Take a look at this video from last year by Rachel Meryrick to get an idea of what your in for:

an all day block party of mutant bike events.
12pm Sanford & Willoughby in Brooklyn.

La Calavera

Alley cat race that doesn't cost $100.00 to enter.

Checkpoints for this race can be found at One of these checkpoints is at the Bike Kill.


October 30th Sunday, is races at Kissena Park Veledrome and if you make it that far...there is the Actual day of Halloween on Monday.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

High School starts cycling club

With obesity on the rise and many teens opting to veg-out on the couch and play militarized video games, one high school is encouraging fitness through bike riding. LaGuardia High School is forming a cycling club. Liam P. Quigley contacted me to let everyone know about their website

He writes: “Hi. I currently attend Laguardia High School for music and arts in Manhattan. Just recently we got a cycling association started. We are planning to do rides, not only fun rides, but competition riding soon enough (A High School Cycling Team).

As far as I know we are the first official High School Cycling Association in the city, and it would be great if you could put a link to our website on your website.

The Website is - Might serve is an inspiration for other schools to get Bike clubs started, considering the puny number of students who bike to school nowadays.

Thanks, - Liam P. Quigley”

Urban Cyclist Survey

Andy Outis is a design student working on his Master's Degree in Design at the school of Visual Arts in NYC. For his thesis project, Andy is designing a line of bike accessories which will directly address the needs and problems of the urban cyclist, a growing population which is underserved by the general bike industry at this point (the industry tends to favor more recreational pursuits, which are then adapted to urban cycling).
To help get a sense of what the general concerns of people who ride in the city are, as well as more specific ideas about the shortcomings of bike products, he has put together a short online survey. If you could take a few minutes to take this survey, and to forward this URL to any fellow bicyclists, it would help him out and we would greatly appreciate it.

The survey is located at:

urban bicycles


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

October in NYC, great month for Bike Events

Not too much to report but there are great events coming up.

Saturday, October 22nd. Midnight Ridazz. This is an event that goes on in LA on a certian Saturday of each month. We're bringing it to NYC for another round. The last one was during Bike National Convention 2. It's a winged theme so slap on your wings, or come as a hot and spicy wing...ain't no thing but a chicken wing.

10pm. Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge. Ride leaves at 10:30pm and ends at a midnight house party.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Podcasts and More

Remember this Poster form the 10 year anniversary of San Francisco's critical mass? It was done by an amazing artist named Mona Caron She is also a well known mural artist in the bay area. bikescape is the spot to hear a pod cast interview with Mona and her new mural or check out the website.

All the "Cool Cities" have them..

Many cities have bike messenger associations that work to better the life of our favorite street champions and organize great events. Here is the link to the London Bike Messenger Association There having an upcoming party and fundraiser. Heres the flyer.

Monday, October 10, 2005

London Biker speaks about their Critical Mass

Here is a little Q and A I did with a concerned Mass rider in London England. On their September 05 ride they were handed a letter from the Metro Police with some BS about having to inform the city about their route. The local bikers have vowed to make the October ride the largest in UK history. Seems like we should have a similar response.

Q: How many cities in the UK hold Critical Mass?

A: Not many. I can list them.
Central London (Only this one is under threat so far)
North London (separate ride in summer months)

Q: When did critical mass London first start, how long has it been going for?

A: CM London started in April 1994 around the same time as Reclaim The Streets and the anti road-building demo's. We get around 200 people in winter 350 in Spring & Autumn an around 500 - 800 in the summer. It used to attract around 1000 in the summer but we only get near that number on the birthday ride each year in April.

Q: Is this the first major crack down of the ride?
A: Yes, normally the police turn up (uninvited) and ride with the mass on mountain bikes resolving any problems with motorists always taking the cyclist's side, their orders it seems have been to get us through London as fast as possible, they were even apologising as they explained why they were handing out the letters, they told me "I'm just the messenger, this came from above" and "I've been policing the mass for three years on a bike and look forward to it each month".

Q: Are the police acting alone and does the city take a similar stance or no stance at all?
A: It seems Superintendent Gomm (Who wrote the letter) is the only person against CM, although a quick google search reveals he is quite high up in the police force. The city GLA (Greater London Assembly) are actively promoting cycling as a form of transport, it would be unusual for them to comment on something like this, we hope the mayor will help us though.

Q: On what grounds do the police all of a sudden need to be stopping CM?
A: They say it is due to the new "designated area" around parliament which does not allow demonstrations of any size or type into a 1 mile radius, this law was designed to remove a long standing protest against British involvement in Iraq, however the protester Brian Haw won a case in the High Court to remain at his protest camp overlooking parliament. we may have to seek protection under the same clause (that the demo predates the new law) although because we are not a demo we should be exempt anyway and most people do not want Critical Mass labeled as a demonstration.

Q: What is the reaction in the local press if any?

A: There has been no reaction from the London Evening Standard (biggest selling London newspaper) they are very right-wing and have never reported on CM, I would doubt it could do us any good contacting them.

The Guardian Newspaper (National) ran a very short article, they got a lot of the facts wrong such as the number of cyclists on the mass, you can view the article @,3604,1586675,00.html although they got some facts wrong they will probably be sympathetic to our cause.

The local BBCtv news have suggested they are likely to have a report live from the start point of the mass and will record interviews with cyclists to go out on the night of the next mass.

Also The Big Issue a magazine sold by London's homeless is carrying a story on the mass and the police letter's impact on the community, in their next issue.

Q: Any reaction from the public on the recent threats?

A: It's hard to gauge reaction as CM tends to be overlooked by most people not involved, people often say oh you do that bike thing I saw that once, we don't have much of a profile outside of the activist and cycling communities.

Q: What is the take from local activist community?

A: Huge! Everyone I have spoken with since the letters has been telling me they will be on the mass and are bringing everyone, People are horrified that the mass has been threatened. I've spoken to people who have not taken part in 5 or 6 years and they are disgusted by the letter and will be on the ride.

Plenty of activist groups from samba bands to film groups are planing to join the ride or organise events around the next ride.

So we should see a return of CM bike samba!

Q: Is there two movements in London as far as bike activists...Those who promote bicycling advocacy and work with the city and those that believe in more direct action, as it pertains to CM?

A: Yes that's it exactly, we have the London Cycling Campaign, they tend to refuse to acknolege the existence of CM although many of their riders take part in the mass, most activist riders do their own thing but recognise each other from the mass, we don't have much bike culture outside of LCC supervised rides (normally outside of London) the couriers and the Mass.

Q: How is CM been tolerated by the public?

A: People love the sight of us riding down a street, motorists hate us, generally without exception. Taxi (Black Cab) drivers would like to see us dead.

Q: Does London CM suffer from the same identity crisis as NY...protest vs. just a fun bike ride?

A: Yes, but massers tend to understand this difference of opinion exists and just accept it, we don't get many massers arguing, and people want to keep CM a positive experience, motorists in London seem to see all bikes as being in their way, once a month we get to relax on the road, we keep it fun!
Do the London police claim the ride has been taken over by anarchists?

Not yet they haven't, it's early days the police told us on the last ride they had not been given new orders, we will see what happens at the end of the month, I do believe they will try using something like this.
Have there ever been arrests at CM before?

In my 7 years on the mass I have only heard about 4 arrests, one was a fight between a cab driver and a cyclist and the others were for drinking on the street in Westminster (which is arrestable if you refuse to hand over the alcohol when asked by police).

I have seen numerous cab drivers handcuffed over recent years for arguing with the police on the mass but never arrested, they tend to be handcuffed if they become violent towards cyclists then when they have calmed down they are released.

Q: Any sympathetic local politicians who are expressing concern and promoting the value of the ride?

A: Yes Jenny Jones (No not her off the telly) the Leader of the Greater London Assembly Green Party group, She was the deputy mayor until recently and serves on the Metropolitan Police Authority (a government watchdog on police activity in London) she has joined the mass a few times in the past and has written a letter to the Police Commissioner, quoted below.

We have also attracted the attention of a lawyer from the human rights group Liberty, I couldn't find out any details on this though.

I'm hoping to get the mayor of London Ken Livingstone involved, he is spending a budget of millions of pounds this year promoting cycling as a form of transport,

Q: Who are the leaders of CM? (Just kidding...that one was obviously a joke)

A: I'm just riding my bike in the same direction as all these people! =^)

The letter from Jenny Jones
Jenny Jones has sent the following letter to the Commissioner of the Met Police, regarding Critical Mass. She and Darren Johnson will attend the next ride to show solidarity with fellow cyclists. They hope that others will do the same.

Sir Ian Blair
Metropolitan Police Commissioner
New Scotland Yard
Tower Block

Dear Ian,
Critical Mass Bike Ride

I am writing to outline my concerns about plans to label the Critical
Mass Bike Ride as a demonstration and therefore require it to have
permission from the police as well as permission to travel through the
restriction zone around Parliament.

1) Many people do not see Critical Mass as a demonstration, but more
like a hundred people getting on the same train at London Bridge.
2) According to the public order branch of the MPS, Critical Mass
would not meet the definition of demonstration set out by the Serious
Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. The bill requires that the protest is
static and has a political message.
3) Critical Mass has operated peacefully in this country for 11 years.
There is nothing to suggest that this is likely to change and the
heavy-handed application of the Serious Organised Crime Act and other
legislation is surely unnecessary.
4) Given the fact that Critical Mass has been happening for so long it
may be the case that it does not need permission under the Serious
Organised Crime Act.
5) Operational issues may arise in attempting to arrest attendees at
Critical Mass. How will the police distinguish between ordinary
commuters who are going about their business and those who are attending
Critical Mass?
6) I shall be attending the next Critical Mass as a direct response to
attempts by police to ‘crack down’ on it. I can only imagine that
dozens of other Londoners will feel similarly obliged to stand up for their
right to cycle around London.

I urge you to review this situation and allow Critical Mass to go ahead

Jenny Jones
Green Party Member of the London Assembly
Mayor’s Road Safety Ambassador
Member of the Metropolitan Police Authority

Bad Trends

Certain popular trends seem to permeate out of the cultural and social stew that is NYC. Things like hip-hop, UGG boots with skirts and bad 80’s revivals. Here is a trend I hope doesn’t find purchase in the rocky craves of our political labyrinth of street actions. If you’ve been living in some other kind of a cave or are not an avid reader of this blog, you would know that the city doesn’t want a friendly bike ride freely asserting itself through the streets known to the rest of the sane world as Critical Mass. It all started with a letter the NYPD was handing out in Union Square that stated the bike ride was dangerous and illegal and anyone participating in it would be subject to arrest and have his or her bikes taken. The letter was the warning and now it’s as real as the paper it’s printed on. For more than a year our ride numbers have dwindled and the arrest numbers have increased. There is no court order, all lawsuits are pending and no judge has made a ruling on the definition of critical mass, yet every time the police disrupt the ride and make arrests, even if traffic laws are obeyed. It has really put Critical Mass in an identity crisis. Is it a protest or is it just a bike ride? A mystery indeed. Now the same trend may be happening in London England. There last CM, police were handing out this letter. They have made threats of arrests. Is this the new trend for critical mass worldwide? The UK is also our biggest ally in the war for oil that’s getting us in a critical mass of trouble in the Middle East. Is this also a trend? Corporations harassing those making a statement about our dependencies on foreign oil and asserting their rights and visibility of alternative forms of transportation? Hmmm.

Here is the Critical Mass London website in case you wanted to find out more about what the hell is going on over there.

Here is the letter the London Police were handing out at the September London Critical Mass
Here are some nice pictures from another Critical Mass in the UK, in Nottingham. Earlier in October.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Bike Messenger Love

There was a fun after party at the new New York Bicycle Messenger Association hub at 49 East Houston St. Yesterday was Messenger Appreciation Day so the party was a chance for messengers to wind down after a drizzly day on the job and to show that the NYBMA is doing some good looking out. The NYBMA raised some funds. The messengers got beer at cheap prices, free tequilla shots and delicious pasta. DJ Nigel rocked the house with funk,soul and 80s classic.
Ninja had his copy of bicycling magazine with the messenger photo spread, signed by all in the house.Judith at the bar.
Uhhh did someone lock up to my bike, I gotta go.
Then the party continued at the basement of Sine-E with some time's uppers. Looks like the central park moonlight ride got cancelled cause of rain. So we found a good thing to do with Halloween flyers...just one more,
owwwowowowwww pretty that's art. Art by John of D.E.M.O. camera by drunken me.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Villager article on 9/30/05 CM

Critical Mass riders — and police — get started at Union Square.
Article and photograph by Jefferson Siegel

from this week's villager.

Last Friday night, bicyclists participating in the monthly Critical Mass ride met with support from motorists and police. There were no arrests and an organizer felt the evening had been a success.

The above description is not some hyperventilated cyclist’s reverie; it happened in Bethlehem, Penn.

In New York City last Friday, there were 36 arrests during the course of the ride.

Just hours before cyclists started the monthly ride from various locations throughout Lower Manhattan, a federal judge issued a ruling on a case dating back to the September 2004 Critical Mass. Justice William H. Pauley handed down a split decision, ruling that five cyclists whose bikes were confiscated during that ride were not denied their constitutional rights. However, the judge also ruled that the city did not offer three of the riders due process by first notifying them of the reason for the bike seizures.

The incident on the eve of the Republican National Convention occurred when cyclists on Seventh Ave. turned left onto 36th St. When they arrived at Fifth Ave. they dismounted and started walking their bikes, which were then confiscated by police.

Before the start of Friday’s ride, civil rights attorney Norman Siegel applauded the due process portion of Pauley’s ruling. “It holds the police accountable for why [the cyclists’] bikes are being taken,” he said, adding that although it said there was “no evidence [the police] were targeting Critical Mass,” the ruling said riders must receive advance notice of any charges before bikes can be confiscated.

As in recent months, the ride departed from several locations, including Tompkins Square Park and Washington Square. Again, the largest group, about 150 cyclists, pedaled west on 14th St. from Union Square. It took several minutes for all the riders to leave as each group stopped for red lights at University Pl. Several blocks later, riders would find themselves literally cornered and arrested while obeying traffic signals.
Bicyclists under arrest on 14th St. near Seventh Ave.

Margaret Wiatrowski, a volunteer for FreeWheels, the bicycle defense fund, opted to follow the ride on foot. She recounted the scene as she approached Seventh Ave. “I saw a line of [police] scooters riding alongside with the bicyclists. There was a cop car that zoomed in front down Seventh Ave. and all the scooters just sideswiped to the right and made a little circle and encircled everybody.”

There were 21 arrests as the tail end of the ride stopped for the Seventh Ave. light.

“A lot of people were trying to get off of their bikes and walk away and that was making it easier, I think, for cops to grab people,” Wiatrowski noted.

As a police helicopter circled overhead, Natalie Bell, a philosophy student at Barnard College, stood in handcuffs in the middle of 14th St.

“I was not aware that riding a bicycle with an organized group counts as civil disobedience these days,” she said after her arrest for parading without a permit.

Also standing nearby in handcuffs was Alexis Cole, a jazz singer who often performs at clubs in the West Village. Cole has been in four Critical Mass rides in the past two years. “I think it’s illegal and unconstitutional,” she said of the arrests. “We’re just people getting together to ride our bikes.” She recalled a time before the Republican National Convention when police facilitated the rides. Asked if her arrest would dissuade her from future rides, Cole replied, “I’ll ride next month. I’m never going to miss another one.”

Attorney Gideon Oliver is representing numerous riders who were arrested over the past year. “I think the Police Department is making choices about policing this event that are dangerous and that endanger the safety of the bicyclists,” he said. “I’m referring specifically to the tactic of driving motorcycles and cars into groups of bicyclists without any warning.”

Paul Browne, deputy police commissioner for public information, replied, “We’re not looking to injure anybody.”

Other arrests took place along 14th St. at Third Ave. and on Avenue A; at 23rd St. and First Ave. and along Bleecker St. Arrestees were taken to the Ninth Police Precinct in the East Village and released by 3 a.m.