Sunday, February 27, 2005

Check out this site

Here is a website dedicated to the preservation of America's oldest bicycles:

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Critial Mass, still we ride, still they arrest.

Here is a little re-cap from last night's NYC critical mass bike ride:

This comes to us from an eye witness reporter on the ride who posted to the Danbury, CT indymedia website: and the NYC, indymedia website:

check here for more news and photos too.

Critical Mass, Still We Ride, Still They Arrest

This Critical Mass was a lot cooler than last months but that didn't stop police from their usual defiance of two losses in federal court and their continued defiance of a federal judge's order to back off.

We gathered at Union Square, 70 strong and the usual loop of amplified voice was again present telling us we would be arrested if we proceeded with the procession. A smattering of police were there handing out literature about the rules of the road. We did recon and saw there were cops on scooters and vans at 17th and Irving and at 18th and Park Avenue South, with laptops in tow. Vans were near them with a flatbed.

We headed east on 17th and we decided to get off our bikes and walk two blocks as the scooters flew by and started the arrests. Many escaped and 6 were arrested on 5th and 13th, consisting of 2 NLG green hats, 1 school teacher and one old woman on bike and two others. Bikes were seized and the intersection was blocked by the cops. Passersby knew what was up and disagreed with the cops vocally.

Reports have come in that as bikes escaped down one-way streets, cops in explorers and vans followed them and tried to hurt them by bumping up on curbs near them to make them fall.

Nine of us watched the arrests for a while and then headed uptown to 45th and turned left and became 15 from other scatterers. Then we went to Times Square and did a mini bike lift and waited there for 20 minutes until 8:30pm. We saw the reflections of sirens and then saw 50 bikes and we joined them, energy in the air. We only made it 10 blocks, to about 25th and B'way and the cops in the rear opened up and let the scooters come through. Everyone swarmed and I hightailed it with 3 others who were fed up and left to go home. I doublebacked and saw the aftermath of the arrests at 26th and B'way, 4 to be exact with bike seizures.

We're back at the Time's Up space at 49 East Houston Street. I can't confirm all 10 arrestees, but i do know that the last 4 were taken to the 9th precinct.

The cops yell at us for blocking traffic when they block traffic for us and while they arrest people, making a huge scene.

The cops have been arresting since the RNC any bicycle during Critical Mass or Bike Bloc who disobey the rules of the road, yet automobiles get off and still run red lights thousands of times a day with no arrests.

"Hey sarge, did you catch any rapists or murderers tonight?"

"No, just some bicyclists."

"Good job."

For more info: call the NLG at 212-679-6018

Friday, February 25, 2005

Dog's can rip it up too.


DSC00424, originally uploaded by deysale.

This was RNC Critical Mass, August 27th 2004.

5,000 bikers in all!

2 Events in NYC for a green environment

bike-up, originally uploaded by Green Biker.

2 Great events to support a cleaner, greener environment.

So there's a little snow on the ground, the sun is out and its melting away. Tonight is the February Critical Mass, a cycling event celebrated in almost 400 cities around the world. The last Friday of every month. Meet at 7:00pm on the North Side of Union Square Park, across from the Barnes and Noble book store in downtown Manhattan. Join in a celebration of human powered vehicles. The ride leaves Union Square around 7:20 and takes a leisurely stroll around town. Don't worry if you see some police helicopters flying over head wasting your tax dollars...the cops are probably just violating some couples right to privacy.

Then there is a benefit to promote Bio-Diesel. This is an alternative fuel substance made from vegetable oil. A eco-savvy bunch is trying to open the first bio-diesel garage in NYC. When you say, "No Blood for Oil," you can actually mean it. No need to be anti-car. Any diesel engine can use this vegetable oil based fuel. Learn more about this at the benefit.

Friday February 25, 2005

Featuring Great Dance Music including drum-n-bass,
techno, breaks and broken beat grooves with DJs …

Jason BK,
Swingsett, (ism, jazzsoundting) w/ vocalist Rhiannon
(Sister NYC, the Shift)
Criterion, (Broklyn Beats)
plus Singer, Beatboxer, and Live looper, Kid Beyond
from San Francisco

Plus a very special set by the mesmerizing acoustic duo
Chocolate Thai and Jubilee

Also, projection artist Paul Clay with his unique and
artistic video mixes and live video artists, The Killer
Banshee’s all the way from San Francisco

Body painting, dancing, performance and vibes by the
Galaxy Girls

Art and Propaganda by

Environmental performances by The Green Circus and much

Last minute addition: We will be joined by bio-diesel
pioneer Sarah Augusta Lewison, who is the subject of
the movie “The Fat of the Land” and was part of the
first ever U.S. biodiesel tour! The film will be
screened at 9 pm sharp to kick off the event. WOW!!

At 9:30 Sarah will join Arrow for biodiesel/veggie oil
Q and A, with a brief update of the latest developments
with the vegetable-powered BIO-BUS and related

9:pm till 4am
$7 to $15 Sliding Scale donation
(Money collected will go towards keeping the BIO-BUS
and the BIO TOUR project going strong for sustainable
energy in 2005!)

16 Beaver Street,
in the Financial District between Broadway & Broad
New York, NY

Driving Directions:
Straight south Broadway past Wall St.
Take the left fork at the giant bull
Beaver is first Street on left.
Alwan is 1 1/2 blocks East on Beaver.

Subway: 4,5 Bowling Green R,W Whitehall
2,3 Wall Street J,M Broad Street 1,9 South Ferry

P.S. This will also be a celebration of Arrow’s B-Day,
so please come!
(and Fly and Crito and Barbra Lee--all Piscean peeps

Go to for
performer updates and further details.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Olympic commitee comes to NYC

So the Olympic committee is being wined and dined tomorrow as they tour our city for hopes that it will win the 2012 bid. What are these people going to be shown? A bunch of undeveloped land sites and lots of power point. "As you can see here in diagram B-98373 this is where the new Jets Stadiu...I mean Olympic stadium will be built...that is if we can win the bid from the MTA and don't get ruined by that greedy MSG." "Pay no attention to the fact that we haven't fixed any of our major roadways since Robert Moses and our public transit vastly our airport train that goes nowhere and isn't being used." Pay no attention to the fact that ratings and attendance to the recent summer games in Greece was abysmal. Who cares about the Olympics anymore?

We all know the real sporting completion will be the 2005 World Messenger Championships this summer!! Tell the Olympic committee about how great New York treats cyclists.

the New York Press has the right idea and released 88 things the Olympic committee should know. My favorite, for obvious Number 6.

Here are the top 10.

Olympics Go Home

compiled by:
Jeff Koyen
Aileen Gallagher
Matt Taibbi
Russ Smith
Michelangelo Signorile
J. R. Taylor
Judy McGuire
Jennifer Merin
Dan Martino
Joshua Cohen
C.J. Sullivan
Paul Krassner
Michael Malone


88 things the International Olympic Committee should know about New York City before making a decision about 2012.

1. We already have an "Olympic Shooting Center" in the Bronx. It's called the Bronx.
2. When the Olympic Village isn't completed on time, we're going to overcharge you to sublet our shitty tenement one-bedroom.
3. They can hide the dirty homeless people from you while you're here visiting, but hiding them for two full weeks during the Games will be nigh on impossible.
4. We already gave the rest of America an excuse to become flag-waving idiots.
5. We've been confusing the Paralympics with the Special Olympics. We're actually applying to bring the latter here.
6. Better get a permit for all those velodrome events. The last time a bunch of bicyclists got together for a ride, the cops arrested them and took away their bikes.
7. Think Munich, writ large.
8. When "9/11" was brought up on every other page in the city's proposal, didn't that set off a few alarms?
9. Construction will displace huge colonies of majestic wharf rats. Ever seen our wharf rats?
10. It's going to cost a fortune to paint the black sprinters orange to keep the police from shooting them.

Monday, February 21, 2005

February Critical Mass and other bike news

February Critical Mass. Union Square North, 7:00pm 2/25/05.
Open to all bicyclists, inline skaters, skateboarders and other forms of non-polluting transportation. Meet at Union Square and join in a slow paced ride through Manhattan.

In other bicycle related news: 6 time champion of the Tour De France, Lance Armstrong has announced he will compete in the 2005 Tour and attempt a 7th victory.

In Kentucky, 59 year old cyclist, Billy Burks is made as hell and going to take it, to the White House…on his bike even. Former US Marine and two time President Bush voter is outraged at the possibility of privatizing social security and believes the US troops have been in Iraq far too long. This carpenter and freelance landscaper left Mayfield, Kentucky on a bike with $50 a tent, sleeping bag and enough food to last four days. He is well experienced in getting by on minimal goods for long cross-country bike treks. His goal is to get to Washington and tell the president exactly how he feels. “When 9/11 happened, we're not going to sit by and let something like that happen to us," Burks said via cell phone. "But the way I feel now is, Mr. Bush has got what he sent the troops there for. We've got Saddam Hussein out of power, Iraq had their election, and that's great, but now it's time to bring them home."

Burks said he is hopeful that the president will take more time to study plans for changes in Social Security. He is uncertain exactly what changes should be made to strengthen the system for future generations, but he is distrustful of the stock market.

"The stock market could go broke overnight and a person could become homeless at the snap of a finger," Burks said.

During the early 1990s he bicycled around the country, stopping to work at odd jobs when his money ran out. Touched by the homeless people he met on the trip, he then walked across the country in 1995, spending time in homeless camps and shelters to help raise awareness of the plight of the homeless.

This story comes from reporter: By Byron Crawford The Courier-Journal

Bicycle Safety Bill Stalled On Utah's Capitol Hill

The driver of an SUV who hit and killed a bicyclist in Big Cottonwood Canyon last fall, today was charged with negligent homicide. Meantime, new legislation inspired by this case may now become law. John Daley has more from Capitol Hill where this bill had been stalled.

That bill would require motorists to give bicycists a 3-foot gap when passing, on a road wide enough for that. It easily passed in the Utah House but was in limbo in the Senate. Late this afternoon, a compromise bill emerged.

25-year-Josie Johnson, a graduate student at the University of Utah, was killed last fall when she was biking up Big Cottonwood Canyon. She was on the far right of two uphill lanes when she was struck from behind by a car. The driver, Elizabeth Deseelhorst, wife of the owner of Solitude Ski Resort, pleaded not guilty today to negligent homicide charges.

The case has galvanized bike riders who went to Capitol Hill for new legislation which would require drivers to give bicyclists a three-foot berth when passing. The bill breezed through the House, but got stuck in the Senate, in part because some in the GOP majority worried bicyclists might abuse the rules.


Bicyclists, including Josie Johnson's brother, say they're frustrated.



Late today, a compromise bill emerged, which would back new education but perhaps strip the three-foot buffer.


Elizabeth Deseelhorst declined to comment about the case today. Her attorney says she's sick about what happened, but he says this case should never have resulted in a criminal charge.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Nottingham, UK. Bike ride against oil wars

oil-war, originally uploaded by Green Biker.

About thirty bike riders took to the streets in Nottingham, England with the theme, "no blood for oil" and "No G8 2005."

They seemed to have a successful ride bringing attention to their cause and making space for non-polluting, non-fossil fuel burning transpiration.

Critical mass is everywhere and not just for the last Friday's of every month, anymore.

The link for this site:

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the United Kingdom, 27 Greenpeace activists were arrested trying to disrupt the opening day of trading at the International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) Trading was tied up for an hour as demonstrators made noise, with air horns and other noise devises. Traders and security attacked the demonstrators and at one point pushed a heavy metal file cabinet on some of them. There is a report that at least one activist was sent to the hospital.

Also outside the IPE, demonstrators hung banners, one reading, “Climate change kills Stop pushing oil."

The protest comes on the day the Kyoto Protocol is put into implementation.

Stephen Tindale, from Greenpeace, said: "Climate change poses the gravest threat our planet has ever faced, yet oil is traded in this place with impunity as if the lives of millions and the future of whole species mean nothing.

"This madness has to end, it's that simple. Today, as Kyoto becomes law, we ask the world to take a deep breath and consider where our oil addiction is taking us."

see the BBC story at:

Monday, February 14, 2005

Sprawl-mart is coming to NYC

mike-walmart-day, originally uploaded by Green Biker.

How do we know this? Because the Sprawl is already here and seems to be the biggest agenda for our elected officials as they pave the way for box stores and the corporate, state funded land grab. Meanwhile in Brooklyn we have a police force mounted the kind that could stop a small army, no not for some unarmed African merchant/possible rape suspect. Not for a mysterious homeless man hell-bent on starting track fires and damaging the pristine MTA, Not even to stop a mad terrorist bomber with a rental van. No the NYPD was properly deployed with our tax dollars to monitor a bike ride. Brooklyn Critical Mass on February 11th, 2005. I got very loose reports about this ride but it seemed positive. To police, big in size with their scooters and vans, chaperoned the ride and did not attack. They made communication with the 20-30 riders and even asked them to stop at red light, which the bike ride complied. No arrests. Remember, this is how all-good critical mass starts in cities all over the world. 20 riders, 50 riders…then into the thousands…just to go on a bike ride. Bravo.
Meanwhile our mayor who will not rest until his baby West side stadium is built and he can comfortably relax in his special skybox was busy bashing Madison Square Garden for being greedy and not playing fair like a good megalomaniacal corporation should be. How dare Cablevision compete with this stadium project trying to protect its interests? I mean MSG is no saint, its just funny to watch these two corporate giants bitch slapping each other while the peasants eat cake and can’t get their C train to work properly and who’s public schools lake playgrounds and where principals in the Bronx have to pull NYPD officers off of there students. It is infuriating that the debate about these stadiums leaves out the public interests and needs. Do we as a city where the average price of an apartment is One million dollars need to bow down to our mayor who can only think about making the Jets happy to tie up traffic on Sunday nights? I love sports, don’t get me wrong…but my favorite sport is Hockey and were sitting around wondering if our league will disband forever. I really hope they do complete that stadium and then the NFL goes on strike. Let’s face it; there isn’t much we can do.
There isn’t much we can do about loosing our public space and unique character of our city. Look at Brooklyn. Landowner Bruce Ratner, is going to be the big winner in Brooklyn with his new Basketball Stadium. Oh what jobs it will bring. Peanut vendors, and parking lot attendants and much more Baristas at Starbucks. Plus Bruce will get 17 towers ranging from 20 to 58 stories tall, 2.5 million square feet of office and retail space and 4,500 units of unaffordable housing. Yeah. Private gym facilities. I can just see it now. A giant monolith of corporate private space 1.3 times larger then the World Trade Center site, dedicated to licking Bruce Ratners boots. Meanwhile, you guessed it, we will all sit in traffic, go to stores that will be out of everything and not be allowed to loiter anywhere near the premises.
And then get ready for SPRAWL Mart which will be the first one to open in Rego Park Queens…can we stop this giant retail store that, yes provides jobs but doesn’t allow workers to form unions and receive adequate benefits? Wait, one store did form a Union in Canada…what did Wal-mart do? It closed the store. Bravo. Meanwhile Wal-mart had to settle a deal to pay for their violations of child labor laws. Well if our kids can make it in our failing schools they can always be box stackers at America’s number one largest employer. Mayor Bloomberg said in a press conference, “it was the city's job to decide which stores should open here. We have to make this city open to everybody," he said. "There's always two sides. Some people like big stores, some people don't like big stores, but that's in the end what the marketplace should determine." Hey I agree. Some people like to work for less than minimum wage and have illegal immigrants clean the floors at night until they get caught and to not promote woman and to not let their employees form a union and get due health insurance benefits and some people don’t. In the end it is up to the consumer to decide, right? Cause if they want that Chinese made lamp cheaper than anybody else and to support a global chain that undermines their local communities wellbeing…they should have it!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Time's Up events

Here are some upcoming events at Time's Up,


Every Tuesday, 7 p.m.

TIME'S UP! Space, 49 East Houston (bet. Mott and Mulberry)



Every Thursday, 7 p.m.

TIME'S UP! Space (basement), 49 East Houston (bet. Mott and Mulberry)



Every Thursday at 8:00 p.m.

This week (Feb. 10): A Place Called Chiapas

Next week (Feb. 17): We Interrupt this Empire

TIME‚S UP! Space, 49 East Houston (bet. Mott and Mulberry)



Friday, Feb. 11, 7 p.m.

Grand Army Plaza entrance to Prospect Park



Saturday, Feb. 12, 9 p.m.

Grand Army Plaza entrance to Prospect Park



The Urban Center at the Municipal Art Society

457 Madison Ave. (bet 50th and 51st Streets)

Thursday, Feb. 17, 2005, 6:30 ˆ 8:30 p.m.




Every Tuesday, 7 p.m.

TIME‚S UP! Space, 49 East Houston (bet. Mott and Mulberry)

Come learn how to fix bikes, do simple maintenance and tune-ups at the bike mechanic skill share. All the fun is in the basement.



Every Thursday, 7 p.m.

TIME'S UP! Space (basement), 49 East Houston (bet. Mott and Mulberry)

Bring your bike to the basement and share skills with other cyclists while you fix up your own bike.



This week: A Place Called Chiapas

Thurs., Feb. 3, 8:00 p.m.

TIME‚S UP! Space, 49 East Houston (bet. Mott and Mulberry)

A trip into the perilous state of Chiapas in southern Mexico is taken in this 1998 documentary, which focuses on the Zapatista National Liberation Army and its mysterious leader, Subcomandante Marcos. The interviews with farmers who fear they will be murdered by government troops are moving, and a press conference in which tape recordings of death threats are played is disturbing. The background of the rebellion in Chiapas is told concisely with most of the film consisting of atmospheric footage showing life in the troubled and violent region. The film crew was itself threatened by right-wing paramilitary death squads, and the paranoia that is an asset in such an environment is tensely translated via filmed encounters with government troops.

Bill Weinberg, journalist and author of the book Homage to Chiapas: The New Indigenous Struggles in Mexico, will discuss the current situation in the region, and will answer questions after the screening.




Friday, Feb. 11, 7 p.m.

Grand Army Plaza entrance to Prospect Park

Join this moving celebration of what our streets and environment could be like with sustainable transportation ˆ Brooklyn style.



Saturday, Feb. 12, 9 p.m.

Grand Army Plaza entrance to Prospect Park

Join us in a peaceful auto-free ride ride as we discover Prospect Park at night.



The Urban Center at the Municipal Art Society

457 Madison Ave. (bet 50th and 51st Streets)

Thursday, Feb. 17, 2005, 6:30 ˆ 8:30 p.m.

Doors open 6:00 p.m.

Come to this forum about Critical Mass to hear brief updates on legal and policy issues, and to brainstorm strategies for preserving the mass and other group rides, expanding cycling and cyclists‚ rights, and creating safe cycling in NYC. Make your voice heard at this open meeting.



Support the environment! Make a donation to TIME‚S UP! at

TIME'S UP! is a direct-action environmental group that uses events
and educational programs to promote a safer, quieter, friendlier,
and more environmentally sustainable city. We're community-based,
all-volunteer, and non-profit. It's easy to help: Join!
See or call 212-802-8222 for more information.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005's real

There is good reason to believe that cars and buses can be run on French Fry oil:

here is a recent article from the New York Times about one such person here in New York that is seeking a serious alternative to fossil fuels:

December 27, 2004

Brent Baker sees one answer to the energy crisis in the
ordinary French fry. His logic goes like this:

Wherever French fries are consumed, there is bound to be a
quantity of cooking grease. Diesel engines can be made to
run on grease. It therefore stands to reason that the
French fry, if made in quantity, can result not only in a
side dish. It can be counted on, as well, to leave behind a
cheap supply of fuel.

Humble as this proposition seems to be, Mr. Baker, an
environmentalist who moonlights as a carpenter, has proved
that it can work. He has taken a 1989 International Blue
Bird school bus and hooked some filters and hoses to its
engine, and now careers through town and through the
country on discarded grease alone.

The ride is smooth and quiet, and his bus smells something
like a barbecue. As for the fuel tank, he pulls into
roadside diners when the gauge is running low.

"What I usually say is, 'Hey, I got a bus outside that runs
on grease,' " said Mr. Baker, who is 34, wears a watch cap
on his head and a soul patch just beneath his lip and is
known as Arrow in the hipper quarters of New York.

"Then I say, 'I notice you've got some nice grease in your
Dumpster out there. Mind if I clean it out?' "

Usually they do not and usually he does. Mr. Baker traveled
15,000 miles last year on S.V.O., or straight vegetable
oil, carrying his deep-fried vision of alternative fuel
across the United States.

As it happens, he is not alone in his belief that vegetable
oil, available in grocery stores and greasy spoons, might
someday prove a viable source of fuel. The fleets of more
than 40 federal and state agencies across the country
already run on a blend of diesel fuel and vegetable oil,
according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Last
month, DaimlerChrysler introduced the Jeep Liberty Common
Rail Diesel, which runs on a similar blend of fuel. There
is even a salt mine in Kansas, operated by the Hutchinson
Salt Company, that just last week became the first mine of
any kind in the United States to run on diesel fuel and

Mr. Baker, as a purist, prefers to run his bus on grease
and grease alone. Beneath its windows is the slogan: "This
Bus Runs On Vegetable Oil." He gets 10 miles to the gallon.
More important, he fills the tank for nothing. And grease
does not give off many of the dangerous emissions that
fossil fuels do.

As a devotee of S.V.O., he acknowledges a debt to Rudolf
Diesel, who introduced the diesel engine at the World
Exhibition in Paris in 1900. Dr. Diesel planned, at first,
to run his engine using peanut oil as fuel. Since then, the
diesel has been modified to run on petroleum, which is,
historically, the least expensive and most easily
obtainable type of fuel.

Still, it is child's play, Mr. Baker said, to reconfigure
diesel engines to run on grease. It is mainly a question of
heating the grease to reduce its natural viscosity. The
grease also must be kept clean.

To that end, he has installed beneath the bus a 10-gallon
"warm-up tank," which heats the grease in the 40-gallon
main tank until it flows smoothly through the fuel-injected
engine. He also jury-rigged a filter system that prevents
small bits of deep-fried cod or French fries from clogging
the fuel lines.

"You can go on the Internet, get the conversion kit and
start running grease this afternoon," he said. Those
familiar with the insides of a car should expect to pay
about $800 for the kit alone. It will cost an additional
$700 for a professional mechanic to install it, he said.

Mr. Baker's interest in grease began in 1995, when he was
traveling the country with an acting troupe and discovered
that "the lion's share of the money we were raising went
straight to Shell." The acting troupe was of the sort that
staged environmentally conscious, anti-corporate political
sketches. It seemed to contradict its mission to spend its
money in support of Big Oil.

As the story goes, they came across two women somewhere
east of San Francisco who were cooking up a blend of grease
and diesel with some cheesecloth and a Bunsen burner on the
side of the road. "They said, 'Yeah, we're making
biodiesel," he recalled. Mr. Baker was immediately hooked.
Shortly after, he heard talk of a group of young
Australians who had gone all the way and started powering
their vehicles on S.V.O.
"These mad-scientist geniuses had altered their fuel lines
and heating lines to run on straight vegetable oil," he
said. After years of interest, Mr. Baker was the lucky
recipient of a bus donated to him by Greenpeace in February

These days, he travels from New York to Texas, stopping off
in spots like Kansas City, to promote his concept of using
grease as fuel. He is often in the company of his daughter,
Felix, a precocious 9-year-old.

While journeying, the bus is both a working demonstration
of his concept and a makeshift mobile home. The seats have
been removed and cots installed. There is a hi-fi system
that is powered, by way of solar panels, by the sun.

When Mr. Baker is at home, he parks the bus in the
flatlands of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. There it sits on
winter afternoons with environmentalist stickers on the
dash and a pair of fuzzy dice hanging from the rearview

An ambitious man, Mr. Baker plans this spring to open a
biodiesel service station, possibly in Williamsburg, where
like-minded motorists can fill their tanks with the blended
fuel at a series of gas-like pumps. The project will
require a set of 50-gallon drums, some rubber hoses and a
centrifuge for blending. "It's not much more complicated
than making moonshine," he explained.

As he conceives of it, the service station will produce
some 200 gallons of fuel a month, which pales in comparison
to the refinery he dreams of building that could pump out
as many as five million gallons a year.

Even now, he said, the resourceful driver can find grease
in places where gas does not exist. Last year, for
instance, he visited the Grand Canyon and drove for miles
on a windy uphill road. Near the end of road, he noticed
that his tank was running low.

There was not an Amoco in sight, but off the road there was
a diner. Mr. Baker walked inside.

"All I had to say was, 'Excuse me. Do you serve fried food
here?' "

Monday, February 07, 2005

Brooklyn Critical Mass

A good day for a bicycle commute to work. This Friday 2/11/05 is Brooklyn Critical Mass. If you've been following along with the recent attacks on this monthly event held in New York City, you know that Critical Mass is becoming the new extreme sport. Critical Mass has been going on across the globe for 10 years, ever since a group of bike riders decided it would be a fun thing to do in San Francisco. Meet, once a month at a specific location and go for a bike ride with fellow citizens all showing up at around the same time. Critical Mass is leaderless, spontaneous and most of all fun. It celebrates non-polluting transportation...for one day a month the bicycle is represented in our ever polluted car filled streets of major metropolis areas. So this idea came to New York about 6 years ago and has grown in size of attendence. August, 2004 was the largest critical mass in NYC due mainly to the focus on the Republicans comming to town for their convention. The police cracked down on this ride and made about 200 arrests out of 5,000 people on the ride. Most of the arrests took place after the ride was over and people were stopped in front of the Saint Marks Church. Ever since this day to NYPD has taken a militant, aggressive and violent stance against the monthly New York City Critical mass, resulting in arrests and attacking cyclists on almost every ride. About 6 months ago another critical mass was started in Brooklyn, meeting at Grand Army plaza at 7pm. As to not disrupt the flow of NYC critical mass which meets the last Friday of every month in Union Square, Brooklyn decide to go for the 2nd Friday of every month. So this Friday is Brooklyn Bikers time to represent.

The NYPD has also been commig out in full force to this ride, trying everything they can to discourage people from going on the ride and becoming part of Brooklyn's every increasing traffic. The result has been a large police presence including 60 vans, a helicopter, dozens of cops on scooters and lots of wasted tax dollars basically spent to monitor and harass a pro-enviormental bike ride.

It is this authors belief that the smaller the attendence of the ride, the more police presence and effectiveness of harassment to scare away those who show up.

One rainy Brooklyn Critical Mass, 3 riders were there. The police showed up in full force and were trying to make arrests based on bicycle law infractions, such as no front head light, etc.

It is still a gamble to attend these rides because the police are rather unpredictable. It is best not to think about their tactics but rather to show up to the ride knowing you have the right to ride a bicycle in New York, free of intimidation. You may want to make sure the batteries are fresh in a front and back light, just to be safe.

Still we ride.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

My story from 2005 Idoitarod

Waitin in line to register, originally uploaded by Green Biker.

Here is story from this years Idiotarod which when down in NYC: 1/29/05

Just a few days ago, I think cause the jet lag has effected my sense of time, I was in the warm streets of Bangkok, Thailand on a long deserved vacation. Now I think its like 5 degrees outside and I find myself running down the streets of DowntownBrooklyn loosely attached to a shopping cart, wearing a hockey helmet. We're running pretty fast now, banging into other shopping carts and trying to avoid the traps people have laid out to foil fellow racers such as marbles and vegetable grease strewn out on the cobble stones. Wait a someone throwing raw meat at me? It must be the butcher team. Why are we racing with shopping carts? Is this some post-apocolytic future nightmare and the stores have run out of food? Are we in a scene from a Rodney King riot and we've just looted the local Best Buy? No, we have to get to the first checkpoint and figure out the quickest way to get our team of five sled dog runners across the Brooklyn Bridge. This is the 2005 idiotarod race.

Quick overview: The race is based on the Alaskan sled dog race across Alaska known as the iditorad. A couple of wise guys from San Francisco decided to make a play on that and thus started the Idiotarod. Its far to cold to be running in Alaska and a well trained pack of malamutes are hard to come by on the foggy shores of the West Coast, so people settled for just getting a team of 5 people to attach themselves to shopping carts and run a race. Last year the idea was tried in New York City, and thus the first idiotarod was born. The idea here is fun, think John Belushi running around a track on a diet of chocolate donuts although through pictures and my experience in this race, I noticed a fun in shape jogging maybe people can actually run and enjoy it. I can run, but prefer a bicycle and can only make good time if the cops are chasing me at a demonstration...sometimes. Most importantly the idea here is to dress up, form a goofy costumed team, run through the streets of Manhattan attached to a shopping cart, make people wonder why the fuck you are doing this and not in bed hibernating under 2 down comforters.

So the registration for your team was right by the River Café and the old Brooklyn Ice Cream shop around 2pm. A picturesque viewpoint of the East side of Manhattan. There was still plenty of snow on the ground so it seemed fitting that someone had erected a plastic igloo and was rocking a sound system and serving drinks. I came to watch, missing the chance to pre-arrange myself on a team because of being away on vacation. Then a friend of mine from the Madagascar Institute came up to me wearing ill-fitting football pads from high school and a motorcycle helmet. Gear asked me if I was on a team and convinced me to join theirs. All I needed was a hockey helmet and a red bandana. That’s what they thought. All I needed was to be warm and to consume at least one beer.

The various teams of the race were assembling with some looking determined to win the best costume prize. Of course there was at least one pirate team, a few clowns, some foam looking tiki heads, some dudes with black afro wigs and yes a mime team. So far my favorites were the short bus who looked like they should never take off their helmets and this amazing crafted fabric octopus encompassing the whole shopping cart. We paid the $5.00 per person entry fee and began to psyhe ourselves out against a field of at least 20-30 teams. There were some rules we had to be aware of in this race. You must have 5 racers, you must have a shopping cart that has not been too altered and you must hit all the checkpoints.

After a short while of sizing each other up, smiling for the cameras and preparing our ketchup bottles to be used as red goo spiting weapons...after all our team was named Bludgeon or something like that) it was time to race.

And there off. All the teams began running for the Brooklyn Bridge to hit the first check point on the West Side, Chambers St. Our team consisted of Albert form Madagascar, Gear and his girlfriend Kate who have an aversion for anyone attempting to take her picture, me and this guy who actually enjoyed running...Ed. We made a break for the pedestrian staircase that is sort of a short cut for entering the Brooklyn Bridge. For some reason, I thought less people would think of this but as we were all trying to slam our carts up the stairs, I quickly learned that this was the most desired route. Some black clad ninja team was trying to block us out from getting our cart up the stairs. They were rewarded with a smattering of ketchup poured down the backside...don't mess with Red Bludgeon. We worked our way up the stairs and started hauling ass up the Bridge. Other teams were passing us, getting Ketchuped, stopping to catch their breath, trying to avoid pedestrians. I started to feel my side ache after running for like half a mile. Gear had fallen back, but Ed was attached to the front and just kept going. The downhill was great. We sort of jumped on the cart and plowed down the bridge with Albert anchoring the back of the cart.

We reached the Manhattan side, turned onto Chambers Street and headed for the first check point...this bar. Other teams were already gathered outside, but it looked like we had faired pretty well. At the checkpoint, one member of your team was supposed to go in the bar and give the judges an egg timer, where you were supposed to wait for 20 minutes, or if you knew one of the judges you could make a bribe and have your time reduced. Albert happened to know one of them, it happens to be his wife, Tara who is 9 months pregnant...unfortunately she was at the other check point. More racers were coming in and the sidewalks were starting to fill up. I knew at any moment the NYPD would show up with no idea what was going on. I was right. As soon as they discovered this was not a protest, they sort of stood by and made sure we didn't block the street. I heard one officer say, that they were just concerned about our safety...right...thats all I'm gonna say. I was concerned about getting a six pack of tall boys so our team could properly rehydrate for the long journey ahead of 20 blocks. After a while of waiting on the opposite street corner, fighting with some dork with a bad mustache about trying to take our picture and watching other teams be given the go-ahead. Albert ran out of the bar and we were off.

The next check point was the Lotus Bar on Clinton St. So we had to get East. We started zig zagging up Church St. in hot pursuit of other teams. It was great looking around on various side streets and see random teams of shopping carts running, breaking up the monotony of peoples typical Saturday routine.

One team with bicycle helmets and red brooms attached to the top, like some sort of dysfunctional roman legion were following us. We fought back with ice chunks from the street and of course...ketchup.

We made it to Lotus Bar, thinking we had made good time by Alberts navigation of crossing town via a side street all the way over to Essex. We discovered there were a lot of teams already there and the competative side of me was like damn. It was the usual scene, people milling about waiting to leave, cheering on others arriving and filling out into the street to gain the attention of the NYPD's 9th precinct which is notorious for fucking with art and activists street activities.

I tried to warn everyone I could to keep their booze on the dl especially with plain clothes 50 sniffing around. I stopped one team in the midst of chugging an entire box of wine. Then I turned around and it was too late, our lead jogging expert Ed was getting busted by the man. Right after he was escorted away by two cops to be delivered his on the street sentence, a cart rolls up with tons of bottles of booze and annouces, "the Bar car is open!" Now I don't want to spoil anyones fun especially when it comes to drinking but we just lost our best runner.

So me and Albert get the go ahead and start racing for the finish at tompkins square park. We are down to 2 people. Then we see Kate and Gear waddling up the Ave. B and we're like...lets go! Then Ed comes in. Down but not out. Looks like he only got a summons. We race up B, together again and are attacked by race volunteers armed with snowballs. We attack back with shaving cream. Then we turn up 7th Street and head into the final half a block. There is a row of people standing and cheering.

We finished the race in 9th place. Apparently the team going as the president along with secert service got first...of course the president always win. In this case the president was a she and it looked like she took a bad ankle injury, she also had some mysterious white powder under her nose...hmmm, just like our president.

I ran into my buddy Chris Ryan of the local ska/punk band Team Spider. He had shown up to video the race for his local public access show on MNN...Wednesday Nights at 11:30pm on channel 57...plug plug. He said he was talking with one of the local beat cops and they asked what was going on. He said, oh its a race, just having fun. Just then some small explosions went off. The cop said, "fun with fireworks?" Then ran off in the direction of the noise.

Yes there were bottle rockets bursting in air to celebrate a sucessful idiotarod race. There was also the Time's Up sound bike providing tunes from a large portable bike trailer/sound system. Local kids danced to the music and waited for someone to give them a light to join in the bottle rockets. After a while of hanging out, it was time for the traditional piling of the shopping carts.

The local police watched and did nothing. When a few squad cars rolled in, it was just time to go.


705miami_salsa_dancer, originally uploaded by rev_bri.

Dancin in front of the man

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Riding in Winter...not so bad

The streets of New York City have a lot of random ice spots still on them but comuting to work by bike, is still the way to go