Saturday, December 31, 2005

Critical Mass...same ol same.

Hey it's December, its cold out, its the holidays...I'm sure the cops won't be wasting time on another critical mass bike ride...besides all that bad press about infilitrating protest groups...WRONG!

Here is an eye-witness account of last nights ride:

A NYPD helicopter circled over Union Sqareharrasing gathering cyclists with it's glaring searchlight while a large group of scooter cops hovered on the edge of meeting area in the north end of the park. A nice size group of around 100 riders/skater left around 7:30pm heading uptown on Park avenue. They were followed by 20 scooter cops and a number of other vehicles of opression up to 22nd street where the ride suddenly turned east upon hearing that another small army of cops were rolling in across 23rd st. from the west. The cops on 23rd st. picked up speed and raced to the corner of Lexington and 22nd st. in order to cut off the mass from the front with the 20 scooters from Union Square sealing off the back. Most of the riders managed to escape in various directions. Around 14 were arested.

Eventually arround 50 riders managed to reunite in the East Village and rode around downtown - some this group eventually leading some of the cops through a briskly paced cat-and-mouse chase through Soho. A separate group of 3 riders were followed by an ridiculously large armada of cops (paddy wagons, suvs, squad cars, helicopter etc) reaching a sort of standoff at 1st ave and 7th st. The 3 riders (and apparently the pigs) were looking to hook up with the larger group that had passed earlier. The riders stopped to wait things out and the cops ended up shutting down most of the avenue for some reason.

There was some hanging with snacks ect. after the end of the mass.

F--k you to the NYPD, the Mayor and whoever else is responsible for the huge wase of resources and viloation of rights in this year and a half dumping on NYC's finest.

Thanks for the info Rodger...sorry it was such a drag.

Meanwhile this article in the NYTimes...activists fight back:

Group Assails Monitoring of Political Events by Police

Published: December 31, 2005
A group of civil rights lawyers has charged that covert police surveillance at political demonstrations violates a federal court order that limits the secret monitoring of lawful public gatherings.

In a letter sent yesterday to the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly , and the city's corporation counsel, Michael Cardozo, the lawyers demanded an end to what they say is illegal surveillance. If the city does not halt the practice, the lawyers wrote that they would seek to have the city held in contempt of court for not abiding by the settlement of a 1971 class-action lawsuit.

City officials declined to comment yesterday, after the letter, known as a notice to cure, was made public.

The lawyers cited a Dec. 22 article in The New York Times, which reported that officers in disguises attended at least seven events in the past 16 months, including antiwar protests, demonstrations during the 2004 Republican National Convention, and bicycle rallies known as Critical Mass held the last Friday of the month.

At last night's rally, a number of riders said they were not surprised about the surveillance. "It's obvious that there's undercover," said Adam Moore, 24, a photographer who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. "They don't look like anyone who would normally ride bikes. They're easy to spot."

During Critical Mass, riders move as a group through Manhattan streets to promote bicycling as alternative transportation, and as is common, the police arrested about a dozen bicyclists last night on traffic violations. Of nearly 300 cases prosecuted since September 2004, none have resulted in a conviction, said Gideon Oliver, a lawyer who has represented many of the riders.

The Police Department's chief spokesman has said that disguised officers are permitted under the court order to attend demonstrations to keep order. But Jethro M. Eisenstein, one of the lawyers who filed the class-action lawsuit, said that violated the settlement.

"Putting plainclothes cops into a demonstration is an investigation of political activity," he said.

The disguised police officers can be seen at seven events in videotapes made over the past 16 months. The tapes were collected by Eileen Clancy, a forensic video analyst who is critical of the tactics. She founded I-Witness Video, an archive of footage from public gatherings in New York City.

On one tape, it appeared that a disguised officer - or a person working with the police - influenced the course of a demonstration during the Republican convention. The man, who was on a sidewalk and holding a protest sign, appeared to have been arrested by uniformed officers.

Onlookers objected, police officers in riot gear responded, and others were arrested. A videotape showed that the man whose apparent arrest touched off the confrontation was never handcuffed and appeared to be carrying a two-way radio.

The chief spokesman for the Police Department, Paul J. Browne, has declined to comment on the videotapes, but said that police officers in disguises have attended public gatherings to patrol for unlawful behavior. Although the presence of disguised police officers at such events is limited by the settlement, Mr. Browne said those restrictions did not apply to officers who attend to keep order.

The class-action case, known as Handschu for one of the plaintiffs, was brought on behalf of political activists who claimed that surveillance and infiltration of political organizations in the 1960's subverted their right to free speech. They charged that police spies instigated trouble or polluted their messages. The case was settled in 1985, after the city agreed to broad restrictions on the surveillance of political activities. Many were eased after Sept. 11, 2001.

We'll see what 2006 brings...can't wait.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

New Years Ride

Democracy now had a roundtable discussion on the use of undercovers at bicycle related demonstrations and memorial rides. The story was launched last Thursday in front page story in the New Yor k Times by journalist Jym Dwyer. The show aired Tuesday (12/27/05) and can be archived at democracy now or at is also an excellent site for live shows posted for free download. These shows are all legal and agreed to by the artists.

If your in NYC on New Years Eve and looking for a unique experience, there is always the Time's Up Bike ride.

8th annual New Year's Eve Party Ride: Start the New Year off Right...on a bike.
Meet at 10:30pm at Washington Square Park, under the arch. End Party at Belvedere Castle in Central Park where you will be treated to music and fireworks. Bring food and drink to share! Great time with the local bicycle community.

Alternate pick-up points:
10:50pm at Madison Square Park, 23rd and 5th Ave.
11:15pm at Sherman Statue in front of the Plaza Hotel 59th and 5th Ave.

This ride is left alone by the undercovers because all the cops are tied up in Time's Square protecting the drunken dorks from Al Queda, cause Osama Bin Laden hates Dick Clark.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Holidays from Bike Blog

Friday, December 23, 2005

More Bike Blogs...and a new Brooklyn store.

Here are a few more bike blogs I discovered:

biking bis

A female messenger's blog:

girl sport

New bike shop in Williamsburg on Hope St.(Hope St. and Marcy) from those at the clothing design company 4916.

King Kog

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Strikes keep Biking, even if they're spying.

The transit strike is over in NYC, although a contract has not yet been agreed upon. It was amazing seeing people have to adapt to the circumstances and find other ways to get around. We got to see what it’s like with a city full of bikes and not just on the last Friday of the month. Perhaps this opened a window for people to see what happens when a labor union decides to take action and stand up to big business. We got a sense of how a union is treated in this country and maybe its no wonder why its memberships have such low numbers. The 34,000 members of the local TWU, who are predominantly black and Latino were called. “Greedy, shellfish thugs, by billionaire Mike Bloomberg who spent $77 million of his own money on his reelection campaign and has done little to decrease the exuberant cost of living in this city. Remember when workers whine about their health insurance costs, the average price of an apartment in NYC is still 1.2 million. The right wing NY Post, did its standard share of bashing the union and asked union president Roger Toussaint to be jailed for leading an illegal strike. This may be true but when talking about legality, most newspapers failed to emphasize how it was illegal for the MTA to sneak in pension plan changes during collective bargaining, which is pretty much the reason for the strike. Although the media had it’s blinders on to the real roots of the crisis, durable New Yorkers tended to support the union’s effort with 52% siding with the TWU, according to an ABC news poll. George Pataki, who is thinking about running for president, was equally chastising of the strike, a man who has been very anti-union unless he needs workers to build a sports stadium. A man who vetoed legislation to raise the minimum wage. (Minimum wage will raise to $6.75, Jan 1st, thanks to 6 years of lobbing by the workers family party) I applaud the TWU for standing up to their bosses and choosing to strike. More labor unions should have stood in solidarity with the huge pension crisis we are facing in America while we spend billions on the war in Iraq.

Check this article from Village Voice on the strike:

village voice blog article

Meanwhile, tragedy again on the bicycle:
Bicycling Bravest struck by bus, in critical condition
December 22, 2005
An off-duty firefighter who was riding his
bike to work amid the transit strike was struck and critically
injured Thursday morning by a private bus in midtown Manhattan.
You can view the entire article at
Daily news aricle

Oh yeah and on the cover of this small paper, maybe you heard of it...the NY TIMES...Jym Dwyer wrote an article about the police infiltrating bike groups...even on such crazy protest actions like a memorials for bike riders who have been killed by cars. You never know what crazed anarchists are likely to do at a funeral, good thing cops were there as undercovers. I mean it's not like the NSA is doing illegal wire taps or the FBI is spying on anti-war groups.

Police Infiltrate Protests, Videotapes Show.

Published: December 22, 2005
Undercover New York City police officers have conducted covert surveillance in the last 16 months of people protesting the Iraq war, bicycle riders taking part in mass rallies and even mourners at a street vigil for a cyclist killed in an accident, a series of videotapes show.

In glimpses and in glaring detail, the videotape images reveal the robust presence of disguised officers or others working with them at seven public gatherings since August 2004.

The officers hoist protest signs. They hold flowers with mourners. They ride in bicycle events. At the vigil for the cyclist, an officer in biking gear wore a button that said, "I am a shameless agitator." She also carried a camera and videotaped the roughly 15 people present.

Beyond collecting information, some of the undercover officers or their associates are seen on the tape having influence on events. At a demonstration last year during the Republican National Convention, the sham arrest of a man secretly working with the police led to a bruising confrontation between officers in riot gear and bystanders.

Until Sept. 11, the secret monitoring of events where people expressed their opinions was among the most tightly limited of police powers.

Provided with images from the tape, the Police Department's chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, did not dispute that they showed officers at work but said that disguised officers had always attended such gatherings - not to investigate political activities but to keep order and protect free speech. Activists, however, say that police officers masquerading as protesters and bicycle riders distort their messages and provoke trouble.

The pictures of the undercover officers were culled from an unofficial archive of civilian and police videotapes by Eileen Clancy, a forensic video analyst who is critical of the tactics. She gave the tapes to The New York Times. Based on what the individuals said, the equipment they carried and their almost immediate release after they had been arrested amid protesters or bicycle riders, The Times concluded that at least 10 officers were incognito at the events.

After the 2001 terrorist attacks, officials at all levels of government considered major changes in various police powers. President Bush acknowledged last Saturday that he has secretly permitted the National Security Agency to eavesdrop without a warrant on international telephone calls and e-mail messages in terror investigations.

In New York, the administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg persuaded a federal judge in 2003 to enlarge the Police Department's authority to conduct investigations of political, social and religious groups. "We live in a more dangerous, constantly changing world," Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said.

Before then, very few political organizations or activities were secretly investigated by the Police Department, the result of a 1971 class-action lawsuit that charged the city with abuses in surveillance during the 1960's. Now the standard for opening inquiries into political activity has been relaxed, full authority to begin surveillance has been restored to the police and federal courts no longer require a special panel to oversee the tactics.

Mr. Browne, the police spokesman, said the department did not increase its surveillance of political groups when the restrictions were eased. The powers obtained after Sept. 11 have been used exclusively "to investigate and thwart terrorists," Mr. Browne said. He would not answer specific questions about the disguised officers or describe any limits the department placed on surveillance at public events.

Jethro M. Eisenstein, one of the lawyers who brought the lawsuit 34 years ago, said: "This is a level-headed Police Department, led by a level-headed police commissioner. What in the world are they doing?"

For nearly four decades, civil liberty advocates and police officials have fought over the kinds of procedures needed to avoid excessive intrusion on people expressing their views, to provide accountability in secret police operations and to assure public safety for a city that has been the leading American target of terrorists.

To date, officials say no one has complained of personal damage from the information collected over recent months, but participants in the protests, rallies and other gatherings say the police have been a disruptive presence.

Ryan Kuonen, 32, who took part in a "ride of silence" in memory of a dead cyclist, said that two undercover officers - one with a camera - subverted the event. "They were just in your face," she said. "It made what was a really solemn event into something that seemed wrong. It made you feel like you were a criminal. It was grotesque."

Ms. Clancy, a founder of I-Witness Video, a project that collected hundreds of videotapes during the Republican National Convention that were used in the successful defense of people arrested that week, has assembled videotape of other public events made by legal observers, activists, bystanders and police officers.

She presented examples in October at a conference of defense lawyers. "What has to go on is an informed discussion of policing tactics at public demonstrations, and these images offer a window into the issues and allow the public to make up their own mind," Ms. Clancy said. "How is it possible for police to be accountable when they infiltrate events and dress in the garb of protesters?"

The videotapes that most clearly disclosed the presence of the disguised officers began in August 2004. What happened before that is unclear.

Among the events that have drawn surveillance is a monthly bicycle ride called Critical Mass. The Critical Mass rides, which have no acknowledged leadership, take place in many cities around the world on the last Friday of the month, with bicycle riders rolling through the streets to promote bicycle transportation. Relations between the riders and the police soured last year after thousands of cyclists flooded the streets on the Friday before the Republican National Convention. Officials say the rides cause havoc because the participants refuse to obtain a permit. The riders say they can use public streets without permission from the government.

In a tape made at the April 29 Critical Mass ride, a man in a football jersey is seen riding along West 19th Street with a group of bicycle riders to a police blockade at 10th Avenue. As the police begin to handcuff the bicyclists, the man in the jersey drops to one knee. He tells a uniformed officer, "I'm on the job." The officer in uniform calls to a colleague, "Louie - he's under." A second officer arrives and leads the man in the jersey - hands clasped behind his back - one block away, where the man gets back on his bicycle and rides off.

That videotape was made by a police officer and was recently turned over by prosecutors to Gideon Oliver, a lawyer representing bicycle riders arrested that night.

Another arrest that appeared to be a sham changed the dynamics of a demonstration. On Aug. 30, 2004, during the Republican National Convention, a man with vivid blond hair was filmed as he stood on 23rd Street, holding a sign at a march of homeless and poor people. A police lieutenant suddenly moved to arrest him. Onlookers protested, shouting, "Let him go." In response, police officers in helmets and with batons pushed against the crowd, and at least two other people were arrested.

The videotape shows the blond-haired man speaking calmly with the lieutenant. When the lieutenant unzipped the man's backpack, a two-way radio could be seen. Then the man was briskly escorted away, unlike others who were put on the ground, plastic restraints around their wrists. And while the blond-haired man kept his hands clasped behind his back, the tape shows that he was not handcuffed or restrained.

The same man was videotaped a day earlier, observing the actress Rosario Dawson as she and others were arrested on 35th Street and Eighth Avenue as they filmed "This Revolution," a movie that used actual street demonstrations as a backdrop. At one point, the blond-haired man seemed to try to rile bystanders.

After Ms. Dawson and another actress were placed into a police van, the blond-haired man can be seen peering in the window. According to Charles Maol, who was working on the film, the blond-haired man is the source of a voice that is heard calling: "Hey, that's my brother in there. What do you got my brother in there for?"

After Mr. Browne was sent photographs of the people involved in the convention incidents and the bicycle arrests, he said, "I am not commenting on descriptions of purported or imagined officers."

The federal courts have long held that undercover officers can monitor political activities for a "legitimate law enforcement purpose." While the police routinely conduct undercover operations in plainly criminal circumstances - the illegal sale of weapons, for example - surveillance at political events is laden with ambiguity. To retain cover in those settings, officers might take part in public dialogue, debate and demonstration, at the risk of influencing others to alter opinions or behavior.

The authority of the police to conduct surveillance of First Amendment activities has been shaped over the years not only by the law but also by the politics of the moment and the perception of public safety needs.

In the 1971 class-action lawsuit, the city acknowledged that the Police Department had used infiltrators, undercover agents and fake news reporters to spy on yippies, civil rights advocates, antiwar activists, labor organizers and black power groups.

A former police chief said the department's intelligence files contained a million names of groups and individuals - more in just the New York files than were collected for the entire country in a now-discontinued program of domestic spying by the United States Army around the same time. In its legal filings, the city said any excesses were aberrational acts.

The case, known as Handschu for the lead plaintiff, was settled in 1985 when the city agreed to extraordinary new limits in the investigation of political organizations, among them the creation of an oversight panel that included a civilian appointed by the mayor. The police were required to have "specific information" that a crime was in the works before investigating such groups.

The Handschu settlement also limited the number of police officers who could take part in such investigations and restricted sharing information with other agencies.

Over the years, police officials made no secret of their belief that the city had surrendered too much power. Some community affairs officers were told they could not collect newspaper articles about political gatherings in their precincts, said John F. Timoney, a former first deputy commissioner who is now the chief of police in Miami.

The lawyers who brought the Handschu lawsuit say that such concerns were exaggerated to make limits on police behavior seem unreasonable. The city's concessions in the Handschu settlement, while similar to those enacted during that era in other states and by the federal government, surpassed the ordinary limits on police actions.

"It was to remedy what was a very egregious violation of people's First Amendment rights to free speech and assemble," said Jeremy Travis, the deputy police commissioner for legal affairs from 1990 to 1994.

At both the local and federal level, many of these reforms effectively discouraged many worthy investigations, Chief Timoney said. "The police departments screw up and we go to extremes to fix it," Chief Timoney said. "In going to extremes, we leave ourselves vulnerable."

Mr. Travis, who was on the Handschu oversight panel, said that intelligence officers understood they could collect information, provided they had good reason.

"A number of courts decided there should be some mechanism set up to make sure the police didn't overstep the boundary," said Mr. Travis, who is now the president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "It was complicated finding that boundary." The authority to determine the boundary would be handed back to the Police Department after the Sept. 11 attacks.

On Sept. 12, 2002, the deputy police commissioner for intelligence, David Cohen, wrote in an affidavit that the police should not be required to have a "specific indication" of a crime before investigating. "In the case of terrorism, to wait for an indication of crime before investigating is to wait far too long," he wrote.

Mr. Cohen also took strong exception to limits on police surveillance of public events.

In granting the city's request, Charles S. Haight, a federal judge in Manhattan, ruled that the dangers of terrorism were "perils sufficient to outweigh any First Amendment cost."

New guidelines say undercover agents may be used to investigate "information indicating the possibility of unlawful activity"- but also say that commanders should consider whether the tactics are "warranted in light of the seriousness of the crime."

Ms. Clancy said those guidelines offered no clear limits on intrusiveness at political or social events. Could police officers take part in pot-luck suppers of antiwar groups, buy drinks for activists? Could they offer political opinions for broadcast or publication while on duty but disguised as civilians?

Mr. Browne, the police spokesman, declined to answer those questions. Nor would he say how often - if ever - covert surveillance at public events has been approved by the deputy commissioner for intelligence, as the new guidelines require.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Tomorrow, Volunteer bike love.

On the morning commute to work, Barbara and Michael will be in Brooklyn, at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, offering free hats to keep warm and air, to pump up tires. I will also have some bike tools, for minor repair.

Thursday, December 22nd, 8AM

Brooklyn Bridge

check out Amanda Hickman's write up:

drum major institute

Oh what fun it is to Ride...when there's a transit strike.

It's rather sad that it takes a strike of a large labor union to turn this city into a venerable paradise for bike riding. Some how the president of the MTA was trying to make concessions to the workers but in the last minute of the deal slapped them with a 6% premium increase on their health insurance. Last night we had an evening commute bike-pool from Columbus Circle down to Houston. We started out with about 7 people and had the sound bike from time's up along so we could have a little bit of tunes for our ride home. We rode down the closed off 5th Ave and waved to people walking home. Many of those walking in the cold, cheered us and we began to pickup other bikers.

By Union Square we were about 15 riders. Someone had heard the rumor that there was a Critical Mass planned for the evening, leaving the North Side of Union Square around 7:00pm. We doubled back and waited in the park. We had a small contingency of about 15 riders and we used the opportunity to make a small tour of midtown. After a brief bike-raise in Time's Square we headed down 7th Ave and off in our own separate directions. There are more planned bike-pools for today, including another evening ride scheduled for 6pm at Columbus Circle. Go to middle round island and look for fellow cyclists.
Picture from untitledname

Sarah Ferguson, Cycling supporter and writer for the Village Voice wrote an article about her experiences in NYC yesterday:

Transit Strike Is a Bike Rider's Dream
By Sarah Ferguson | December 20, 2005
New York City's Transit strike may have inconvenienced millions of bus, subway and car commuters. But from a biker's perspective, it made the city a dream. slideshow
There were no hooting horns and buses plowing you into the sidewalk. No cabs and delivery vehicles jamming up the bike lanes.
The Bloomberg administration's overkill restriction on cars—each had to have four people to get into Manhattan—was intended to ensure that emergency vehicles weren't hampered during the strike by a traffic jam, but it instead made traffic in many places lighter than on most Sundays.
For people like me, who've made bikes our primary mode of transportation in the city, yet who now find the streets ever more cluttered with trucks, limos and oversized SUV's, the strike was a chance to test our fantasy of riding in a car-free Manhattan. For once, we weren't second-class commuters.
Indeed, the city went out of its way to accommodate bikers, setting off existing bike lanes with orange cones to stop drivers from double-parking in them like they usually do.
Some streets, like Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue between 23rd and 96th Streets, were off-limits to anything but emergency vehicles and charter busses.
At the height of rush hour, I managed to ride all the way up Fifth Avenue from 23rd Street to Times Square without stopping once. And the cops posted on the side streets to keep cars from turning onto the avenue didn't stop me once for riding the wrong way.
"It reminds me of September 11. It's eerie," said David Munroe, a 32-year-old IT administrator pedaling up Fifth Avenue. "The streets are quiet and it's calm everywhere. The pedestrians have the run of the city, which is highly unusual."
Daniel Pagano, who regularly rides to his job near City Hall, was also pleased by the ease of getting around. "I bike every day, so I think it's great, and I think more people should advantage of this as an opportunity," said Pagano, pedaling his 10-speed down down an entirely car-free bike lane on Second Avenue. "It's a good way to save energy, and it's good for the body. Americans are overweight so I think the city could do a lot more to encourage people to bike and walk more," Pagano added.
On Broadway south of 14th Street, police working the strike carved out a traffic lane for bikes. "Look at that, a whole car lane blocked off for riders. That's so cool," marveled Todd Vanderlin, a 22-year-old art student who was slaloming down Broadway on a skateboard.
And for the bike messengers and pedicab drivers, the strike made their jobs a breeze. "It's better if you ask me—there's no pollution," said Mike Nelson, a 52-year-old bike messenger from the Bronx. Nelson said he thought the city should consider keeping more streets permanently off-limits to cars in Midtown. "It would be better for the city and better for the air," he said. "But rich people with their cars aren't going to want to hear that. They don't want to give up their warmth and comfort."
Of course, for many, going on two wheels was not the optimal way to get around. Anthony Rodriguez, a 22-year-old history student at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, said he walked from Ozone Park Queens to East New York to borrow a friend's bike, then pedaled slowly for an hour into Manhattan "because I have no brakes."
Thanks to the frigid temperature (the wind chill at around 8 a.m. made it feel like it was 13 degrees outside) there were far fewer folks biking than one might have expected. Some who did venture out said they weren't all that happy about it. "Other than the fact that I can't feel my toes and I'm three hours late because my babysitter was two hours late, it's great," groused Julie, a 39-year-old fashion designer, who declined to give her last name. "I don't have the clothes for biking in the cold like this. I'm in fashion, so I have to dress. Normally I wear heels," she said, shivering in the nylon running suit with many layers piled underneath that she'd put on for the ride in from Brooklyn.
Others said the strike had inspired them to rethink how they commute. Nick Fereday, a 38-year-old economist, went out and bought himself a $400 Trek to get from Carroll Gardens to his desk job at Columbus Circle. "I think it's amazing, Ithink more people should bike like this," he said, strolling off the Brooklyn Bridge, where cops were making bikers dismount because of the crowds of pedestrians. Fereday said he hoped to make biking part of his regular routine "because otherwise, at $400, that would be a pretty expensive commute."
Fereday said he was surprised at the go-to spirit he encountered among other Brooklynites coming across the bridge. "As a runner, going across the Brooklyn Bridge can be a nightmare with all the pedestrians in your way and having the bike lane closed off for bikers. But here everybody's walking wherever they like and nobody's getting annoyed. It's like the blackout. People just dig in and get into it. I think crises like these bring out the best in people."
Politics has always been largely a matter of self-interest. So perhaps it's not surprising that those who had the option of biking seemed to take the strike in stride better than those who froze their feet walking or waited for hours in the outer boroughs to get on a Metro North or Long Island Railroad train.
"I definitely support the strike, 100 percent," said 38-year-old George Hall, a computer consultant, who was rode an old Univega 10-speed across the Manhattan Bridge from downtown Brooklyn. He opposed MTA management's demand that the retirement age move from 55 to 62. "What is this, a race to the bottom to see how old people have to be to retire? As a union, they need to be setting the tone for the rest of us. Especially when you look at all the discrepancies in the MTA's finances that we've seen over the last year. They had to take a stand, and I support that."
But would he keep biking once the strike was over. "No, are you kidding? I smoke two packs a day."
Pagano, who bikes regularly to City Hall, was also fully in support of the Transit Workers Union. "I couldn't go to work on time because my daughter's school didn't open till 10:30, so I was also inconvenienced, but I still support the strike," he said. "The teachers got a 14 percent raise, the police got 16 percent, so why shouldn't the transit workers get what they deserve? I think there's some racism in how the city and the MTA are handling this. If you look at the transit workers, 80 percent are black and Latino. They haven't negotiated with them in good faith." END
Thanks for the great reporting:

Oh, look it's recently elected public advocate Betsy Gotbaum hanging out with the red cross. She must be thinking: "Damn all these bikes on the street, if this were only critical mass I could have them all locked up!"

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bike Pool

People entering the bridge in Brookyln.

What it's like out there? Bike Utopia comes to mind. Today was the first day of the citywide Transit Worker's Union Strike in NYC. We had a small bike-pool to work this morning that left promptly at 8:00am from the base of the Williamsburg Bridge. The idea was to promote cycling as an option for getting to work despite the lack of buses and subways due to this labor despute. It was freezing cold but people were already walking and riding to work. Some got rides to the base of the bridge and walked it, while other cars had to maintain a 4 person occupancy. Both bike paths of the bridge were open, novel concept, the one on South 5th and the one on Bedford, under the bridge. There was room on the Williamsburg Bridge for all walkers and bikers, thanks to both sides being available. It was so nice to see so many people out where normally this commute is pretty empty.

At the Manhattan side was a 15 passenger NYPD van parked in the middle of the island telling people they had to move there bike because it was blocking the way...hmmm. Also, the Red Cross was there handing out hot chocolate in case that crisis of having to walk across the bridge was too traumatic for people. I guess people were traumatized because they might not be able to complete their holiday shopping. Manhattan was a dream to ride a bike in.

The bike lanes were marked with cones all the way up Lafayette and 6th Ave. Car traffic was minimal. People seemed like they were making the best of it and one woman even smiled at us and said, "Yeah bikers." We rode up to Central Park and 2 people went off to work. If you have a bike and need to get to work...use it. It really is safe and quiet out there except for an occasional Con Edison Van that tried to run me over on 5th Ave. even though there was nobody in the 5 lanes of the street. Transportation Alternatives is in Herald Square offering free bike parking for those shopping.
5th Ave. was clear and a joy for biking:

****Here is a little message from Times Up:

Bike the strike! Now is the ideal time for you to demonstrate to NYC what Time's Up! Members have known all along... the best, funniest; fastest way to get around our city streets any time of year is by bike. Turn the transit strike into to a positive series of events to celebrate the bicycle! Ask your work building management to support indoor bike parking permanently, not just during the transit strike. Now get on your bike, and enjoy the fresh air, free ride, and exercise!

or support your local pedi-cab

Here is a site from NYC on alternative transportation tips:

NYC Gov site

There are other bike-pools planned.

Tonight (ride home) 6:00pm at Columbus Circle, hitting all 5 boroughs.


Meet at the Brooklyn Bridge (Brooklyn Side) 9:00am More details to come.

Monday, December 19, 2005

TWU strike? Ride a bike.

Ok, so the MTA with it's two sets of books and lack of transparency of their accounting, who love to cry not budging on talks with the Transportation Workers Union and it looks like a city wide strike of our public transportation is possibly going to happen tomorrow. Funny how the MTA cries poverty, raises the fares and then suddenly has a surplus but can't pay its workers the health care plan they demand and wants to change the retirement age to 62. That means you can't sit in the token booth, the L train will be automated and some how meet the demand of a proposed 60,000 new residents coming to Williamsburg. Then you have to put up with this shit until your 62 years old. I know its a skewed view of the MTA and the ridership will suffer...but sometimes the workers have no choice but to strike...which should never be illegal. I'm reminded of the workers who were killed by the US government fighting for the 8-hour workday and makes me a stronger supporter of the labor movement when the bosses won't talk.

But, hey I'm one of those crazy bike riders who feel comfortable riding in the middle of the street and in zero degree weather and sees the bicycle as the ultimate in public transportation. So we are having a bike-pool ride to work tomorrow. Here is the details:

So it's on. The Bike-Pool ride to work. Group ride. We already know the best way to get to work is on a bike, MTA strike or not, now lets ride our bikes together like thousands of people who cram into cars to share the commute, only we're doing it on bikes.

Meet at the George Washington Statue at the park between South 5th and Roebling, right at the entrance to the Williamsburg bridge...Brooklyn side. This is where CM Brooklyn often has one of their meeting spots. The bike ramp to the Willamsburg Bridge is closed at this spot for who knows what (could be to complete the de-bumping project) So the new entrance to the bridge is under the bridge on Bedford between South 5th and Broadway.

We'll meet at the park and then head over.

Tuesday, December 20th, 2005

7:45-8:00am Leave close to 8:00am.

The route will be...across Williamsburg Bridge
across Delancey st. which turns into Kenmare St.
Right on Lafayette St.
Left on Prince St.
Right on 6th Ave.
Left on 59th St.
Right on Central Park West
Right on 110th
and from here...people can decide.

I think if people want to meet at other points in Brooklyn like the Manhattan Bridge or Brooklyn Bridge then try and link up to the route, say on Delancey, coming off of the Bowery.

I know we can't please everyone. The idea is people jump on and off where they need to get.
heck, I'm riding and don't even have to be at work.

Dress warm, bring coffee, green tea, ban-cha tea, grain coffee, redbull, rockstar or whatever gives you that buzz.
Just like a carpool we'll see familiar faces, talk about the job, who's cheating on who, how mean the boss is, we'll be nice to Naomi, talk stock tips or global warming is not a myth...ufo sightings...etc.

see you on the ride.
Meanwhile I was in Utah for a couple of weeks for work and to do some snowboarding.

I didn't see too many bikers but I know your out there...After all Utah includes Moab, which is primo mountian biking.

I did pass by this one metal shop with a crazy mutant bike on the roof.


Is there a salt lake city Critical Mass?
is there a Messenger community?

Give me a shout if you’re out there.

There is a strong environmental movement out there fighting for preservation of land, wildlife and clean air, in the land of 4% alcohol and hummers.

But Utah is a beautiful state with some of the best skiing, riding, hiking, biking and rafting in the country.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Been in Utah for work...bad news in Brooklyn

I've been in sunny Utah working and snowboarding...

Got some bad news from Brooklyn,

BROOKLYN: BOY STRUCK BY CAR A 13-year-old riding his bike in Brownsville
yesterday was struck and critically injured by a sport utility vehicle
whose driver was intoxicated, the police said. The boy, who was
identified by his family as Carlyon Charles, was riding on Saratoga
Avenue between Blake and Dumont Avenues about 5:20 p.m. when he was
struck by a white Lexus RX300. Carlyon was taken to Brookdale Hospital,
where he was treated for head injuries. The police arrested the driver,
whom they did not identify, and charged him with driving while
intoxicated. Michelle O'Donnell (NYT)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Shopping guide Part 2

If you feel philanthropic you can donate money to some great bike organizations...

Buy a membership for some one at Transportation Alternatives or Time's Up
or Doante to the Bicycle Legal Defense fund
and help with legal costs with the NYPD war against NYC critical mass.

You could donate to recycle-a-bicycle
This is a great non profit that runs a school program to give kids skills in bike repair. They also sell these bikes at two store locations, Dumbo and the East Village. Here you can get a great deal on a used bike and your helping the program. Recycle-a-bicycle also has bike repair workshops and group rides. Many of their bikes are now pictured on their website. Currently, this non-profit is looking for donations to send volunteers to New Orleans and help get 350 bikes back on the street.

Holiday Gift giving ideas...part 1

Well its that time again when we give gifts around the holiday season, so why not give some original gifts to your favorite bike rider.
Personally, I say wear it in a t-shirt...

Visit for the finest in stickin to that glutonous pig and the worlds most unnecessary vehicle. All shirts are American Apparel. I also have these tees in solid yellow...I have girls sizes and styles, so check out my site.
Speaking of are some other cool sites I found for bike related threads...
4916 makes excellent designs of fixed gear, messenger culture.
Laek House makes t's and hoodies.

time's up has t-shirts of critical mass and stuff. All proceeds help one of the best local environmental groups out there.

Tired of Lance Armstrong tokenism yellow bracelets? livewrong

Monday, December 05, 2005

Race Results for Rico

I had a great time in Boston this weekend. Hung out with Lucas Brunelle, the one person who can document alleycats like no other. His website gets thousands of hits a day and it's easy to see why. When Lucus is not running his business in the Boston area, he's perfecting the ultimate coverage of races with camera technology. Of course, the tools are only as good as the skills of the rider and Lucus has it down pat.
Racers at the, "Rico Sauve", benifit alley cat.

Meanwhile in DC, demon cats race collective had a highly sucessful fund raiser
for Rico Palacios, a bike courier who was injured. Both DC and Copenhagen threw races and raised about $2500 in combined funds. Then a single doaner, Larry Parks, matched the funds and threw in another $2500.

$5,000 was raised for Rico, here are some pictures from DC which come from the Demon Cats website.

Squid, representin NYC

From John of the demon cats themselves...
"Rico is still in a delicate situation, but he mother speaks in terms of long term recovery. Hopefully this money will help her relieve the financial burden that accidents like this seem to impose on the family of the hurt. It is enough that she has to worry about Rico without having to worry about money!

I'd like to thank the sponsors Kryptonite and Crumpler for not even hesitating to send down prizes on short notice.

To Manhattan Portage who threw in some bags via the NYC crew that came down and KICKED ASS, placing 2nd through 4th and half of the top ten, plus top woman!!!

To One Less Car for the scwhagg! I de-badged my Fuji to put a FREEDOM stciker on it. The Inconsiderate Driver stickers were a hit, as were the sweet T-shirts.

WABA (Maggie and Eric) threw in some sweet stuff, especially those fleece jackets!

Thanks to Big Jonny at drunk cyclist for posting the race on his site.

Again, we just want to thank all those who donated time, money or talent to come out in support of Rico and his mom.

I am sure he is feeling the love!!!"

The results are as follows. The top four were tied for points. They were determined by finishing place.

1. az. dc. 5800 pts 1st place overall!!!
2. ken stanek. nyc. 5800 pts 1st out of town (go team b.a.d.a.s.s.!)
3. squid. nyc. 5800 pts (thanks for racing, bro!)
4. dan chunk. nyc. 5800 pts
5. dan g. dc. 5600 pts
6. bruce bearn. dc. 5590 pts (trivia would have put him in first! gerardo is from ecuador.)
7. eric gilliland. dc. 5040 pts (representin' Washington Area Bicyclist Asscociation)
8. bega. dc. 4880 pts (my first alleycat was a bega race. thanks for racing. 35 miles? ouch!)
9. coach. dc. 4570 pts
10. johnny. nyc. 4240 pts
11. john lowe. boston. 4220 pts
12. ellen. nyc. 4210 pts (top female and the only woman racer to go by the checkpoint manned by my wife and son and his friend- are there laws against having 8-year olds manning checkpoints???)
13. christopher. vienna. 4200 pts
14. ken medley. dc. 4110 pts (what happened to tony?)
15. miles. dc. 4090 pts (you told me about rico, that got the ball rolling. thanks!)
16. sebastian. dc. 3950 pts (go demoncats!!!)
17. zach. dc. 3940 pts
18. kevin murphy. dc. 3900 pts (good race)
19. lola. dc. 3700 pts
20. kevin murphy's friend. dc. 3700 pts (he found your manifest)
21. krieg. ?. 3700 pts
22. marcus. arlington. 3580 pts
23. jenny. dc. 3500 pts
24. kevin keefe. dc. 3170 pts
25. dave sachs. dc. 3160 pts
26. nick. arlington. 3000 pts
27. chris dominican. nyc. 2800 pts
28. peter lee. dc. 2800 pts
29. matt styer. harrisonburg. 1970 pts (his h-burg races are legendary! see ya next year!)
30. kurt rosenburger. harrisonburg. 1930 pts.
31. unknown. unknown. 760 pts
32. joe joe chopper. burke. 750 pts
33. kevin costello. dc. 300 pts (didn't you win the simpson's jeorpardy race 2 weeks ago?)

Anyway guys, that's it!

Once again, thanks to all who particpated, donated or volunteered.

Also once again, THANX TO LARRY PARKS!!! You took a great event and made it twice as good! YOU ROCK!!!

Racing for Victory and to the thought of Rico getting better!!!

Check out a cool site for t-shirts...give the gift of bike love this holiday season.