Most Defiant ride I've ever seen
The ride last night was well attended. Almost like the good ol days, before August 2004. I'd say there were a couple hundred people, maybe even 300. There were messengers, a guy on a giant treaded unicycle, some small tallbikes, a homemade tandem bike, a real tandem bike--all of the diversity that makes up our cycling community. One of our community members had made a laminated spoke card with the picture of the flyer I designed on one side and two reconvene spots in case people got broken up...One at Washington Square Park and one at Madison Park.
We rode out of Union Square as a huge pack, proudly chanting and yelling a chorus of "whose streets!" Cops were nowhere to be found, but of course, they always seem to let us get a few blocks out of the square and then pounce. I was in the front with about 75 riders. At the Midtown tunnel (the one that goes under the MetLife building, we turned right. I looked back to see that no one was following. Surprise. The police cut the ride in half and began to ticket people for running red lights or what ever they felt like ticketing them for. The police always claim that critical mass is dangerous and illegal and ties up traffic. We'll nothing could of tied up traffic more than the cops blocking off the streets to write traffic violations for bikers. Some day they will learn to write faster, but seeing as how they have lowered the standards for recruiting cops...it is a surprise they can read and write at all. awwww. cheap shot.
So now the ride was broken up into smaller groups and we scrambled on our cell phones to find out who was where. Seems like the front ride and those that got away from the cops at about 20th and Park Ave had headed over to 6th and were back together heading up towards 34th. We joined up with them only to see another squadron of cops swoop in and cut off 34th for another round of ticketing. The ticketing was not just for running red lights but also for not having a bell or illegally existing in NYC or what ever the cops feel like. They must feel a little emasculated since a State court judge told them it wasn't illegal to ride as a group and therefore they weren't practicing their macho bravado of tackling people and making arrests. This may curb the chances of the scooter cops from smashing into each other and falling down because critical mass is sooooo dangerous.
We turned around 6th Ave and headed down Broadway back to Herald Square after sitting and watch the cops create the largest traffic snarl imaginable. Cars were stopped all the way up 6th for up to 20 blocks. I later found out the cops blocked people from going forward and told them to go left or right only to discover there was no where to go but into the cops ticket trap. Nice work boys. The cops were playing some sort of zone defense where they would cut the ride in half and slowly break us down. I mean these tickets are no joke. Even if you didn't run a red light and had a bell, and bike lights...you still get a ticket, have to appear in court, loose work, go in front of an unsympathetic judge who hears hundreds of cases a day about bike violations and public urinating and pay up to $100 plus stupid ass sur-charges which they tack on. I wonder if these tickets are pre-written?
So we picked up people who were hanging out at Herald Square and headed down to Washington Square to reconvene with other riders, like it was suggested on the laminated spoke card.
We slowly picked up stragglers and rolled into the park with a squadron of police vans following. Then we had a weird Mexican standoff in the park while the cops tied up all of 5th ave. waiting to see what would happen. Then the weirdest part happened. Everyone began to ride into Washington Square Park. From all corners. The spoke card worked. We soon grew in size to almost as many as we had at Union Square with people cheering as different groups came in. Then we walked over to the other side of the park and left out of Thompson street cheering and riding. The cop brigade move out and then we made our way to the big wide-open 6th Ave. We were cheering and chanting..."more bikes, less cars" and it sort of turned into "more bikes, less cops."
The ride went on way past 9:00pm with the cops still pulling the cut off and ticket. I hear there were some arrests. It must have been that people didn't have a bike light or some sort of other egregious violation.
Well, I've never seen such a defiant group. Everyone riding tight, sticking together and enjoying the weather. Lets keep at it. The weather is only going to get nicer and warmer since our government is ignoring climate change and using up as much oil as possible.