Wednesday, November 02, 2005

London and New York...Sucsessful Critical Mass

NYC Halloween Critical Mass 2005 pictures by Ida C Benedetto
London's Halloween Critical Mass with more than 1000 people in attendance.
I know, it's old news now...but let us rejoice in the great job of pedal power at the last Critical Mass. Two cities, both under threat were not intimidated by threats from their local police forces. In New York we had between 300-400 riders. In London they had between 1000-1200 riders. Here are a few report backs:

Rodger M, from NY...
"Several smaller groups of riders originating from various locations collected into 2 main groups of 200 or so which moved separately around Manhattan. Both groups made a pass through Times Square. Smiling traffic cops waved our group through. It was great to mass through Times Square for the first time in many months.

For some reason the cops left the ride alone. I don't know of any arrests. There was a helicopter overhead and a number of scooter cops around Union Square. I mused that the authorities were respecting the holiday and having a temporary cease-fire. A more realistic theory was offered that the fascists were called off due to the upcoming mayoral elections. The Halloween 2005 NYC Critical Mass was a great success. A glorious spirited group ride with many in costumes. As is usually the case, no pigs, no problems. Critical Mass takes care of itself. The only incident that I heard of involved a non-rider. An aggressive (non-city) bus decided to crush the bike of a rider that he considered to be in his way. Does that mean he would plow into cars in stopped traffic? No one was injured. The incident was reported. The Times-up/benefit afterparty was packed and a really nice time - free food, dancing etc."

Some responses to Rodger...
Madhatter wrote.
"I echo roger's sentiments. Our mass took off from Washington Sq Park with about 50 folks. We were going back in forth in circles for 45 minutes before catching up at Times Square with the rest of the mass of 200. I hear there was another 100 who didn't join up. The bike that got caught under the bus was the rear wheel of the bike and it sounded like a gun shot.
At one point, I think on 5th avenue, a car who didn't want to get caught behind us kept corking intersections for us and honking and waving. He corked at least 3 intersections. Arriving at the Time's Up space at 8:30pm, folks still wanted to ride but ended up not.
In the beginning, someone told me the cops had radioed in on text mob saying, "Happy Halloween, enjoy the ride." That could've been faking it or being nice.
A great night. Like it always used to be. "

Than Maus said,
"well, last year there was pigs AND problems a plenty, anyone remember that fucked up raid on the after party and the lock cutting? not to mention about 30 arrests on the actual ride. i think if anything they didn't want a picture of cops arresting someone dressed up as a bumblebee on the cover of the times the next day. if anything it means the other side is getting better at PR. glad yall had a fun ride, but remain wary!!"

Elliot responded...
"my guess is that bloomberg didn't want bad publicity this close to election day. the crackdown is entirely political, so i wouldn't be surprised if the police repression resumes right after bloomie's landslide reelection next week..."

So what did others think about this ride? What can we improve on? Shall we still mix it up, different meeting spots? Thougts? I would love Bike Blog to become a forum for the open expression and ideas about CM...feel free to post comments. The next critical mass is...(checking calender) Friday, November 25th, 2005...right after turkey slaughter day.

This person responded from London...
"Glad you all had a succesful and fun ride in NYC - we admire you all for keeping the ride going after some stupid arrests in the past year or two!
Just to let you know, the London, England ride is getting bigger and bigger. Last month, Police in London handed out letters warning of arrests if the ride happened next month (October)... Well an estimated 1200 turned up last Friday and the police decided not to do anything (this time)!!

Check out the reviews below...

Uk indymedia on CM London

take it easy, happy cycling!

Fritz has great photos of the NYC Halloween Critical usual.
Look it's Team Spider of the directors of Still We Ride...still Riding!

Fred Askew Halloween CM photos
Great Pictures from Ida C Benedetto. Thank you. here is a few more.

Big Shout out to this guy...Reverend Billy. He was very inspirational at the speak out at Union Square...and he rides a bike and has done lots for the moral of Critical Mass through the hardtimes. Visit him at On a side note, I believe the film maker, Morgan Spurlock, of "Supersize Me" is making a feature length documentary on Rev Billy and the Church of stop shopping. Should be a good one.

Another shout out to the rude mechanical orchestra who jammed out at the Time's Up fundraiser...visit them

But wait, there is more...I know, I should get a life...If your wondering about these mystery riders who had the insane bikes at bike kill...
There from Jersey...check out there flickr photo page from Bike Kill 05 and this page at my space

Lets talk about the next critical mass...shhhhhhhhhhhhh.


Blogger Jack said...

Not everyone is of one mind following October's Critical Mass in London. The guy who runs the leading CM London website has closed it down (

For more debate, listen to the latest edition of Resonance FM's Bike Show, which I present:

Here's my perspective:

Like many hundreds of London cyclists I went along to critical mass last Friday night. I’d heard about the possible crackdown by the Metropolitan Police under the Government’s new public order legislation and I wanted to express my right to ride. I’ve been riding in Critical Mass rides in London, Oxford and San Francisco for more than a decade and I’ve usually enjoyed the fun and friendship and the amazing feeling of riding along the city streets in large numbers, safely, showing how a bicycle can solve the problems of congestion.

Last Friday’s ride attracted more than 1000 people. It was an impressive show of solidarity, and to give them their due, the Police acted in an overwhelmingly friendly and cooperative way. But by the time the ride had reached Parliament Square and a group of people decided to brandish their bikes aloft and bring the ride to a complete standstill, I had decided enough was enough.

I’m glad I didn’t stay with the ride as it went back towards the West End but I’ve heard from others that people blocked Oxford Street for almost an hour, held up buses and generally caused disruption to everyone. Spare a though for all those shopworkers on minimum wage trying to get home on a dark Friday night. What kind of a message does that send out to people about cycling and cyclists?

Friday’s ride marked a turning point for me. London’s Critical Mass has always quietly tolerated those people who tried to hijack it for their own causes, whether they’re against Shell, McDonalds or the Iraq War. But now it seems that Critical Mass has inverted its own founding creed of being a bike ride not a protest. It is abundantly clear that it is now a protest, not a bike ride. And in doing so, it has become a convenient vehicle for the angry mob who like to be anti-everything.

Over the years Critical Mass has undoubtedly raised the profile of cycling and contributed in its own way to the massive growth of cycling in the capital. Riding a bike is now a perfectly ordinary way of getting around town, and Governments are broadly supportive, although it is always possible for them to do better. I ride my bike in London and see so many other riders around me that it feels like a Critical Mass every day.

A conversation I overheard on Friday sums it up perfectly. It was a bike messenger complaining, in very good humour, that he rode 100 miles a day, every day, and hadn’t had a mechanical failure for months. But he’d come on Critical Mass for the first time in years and been rear-ended by another rider, buckling his back wheel.

Cycling in London has moved on and Critical Mass now does more harm than good. But this doesn’t mean giving up on group riding, far from it. Any day of the month is a good day to get together with bunch of friends or join up with a local group like Southwark Cyclists for one of their regular Thursday night rides. 6.30pm on the South Side of London Bridge. I’ll see you there.

3:08 PM  

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