Friday, May 26, 2006

The Lost Viking at Critical Mass-Tonight

So, I am working and not at the Bike Month Critical Mass. But our favorite Lost Viking is going to call me with updates: There he is now...


400 people at Union Square,

8 scooter cops and 2 golf carts.

Wide variety of cyclists from BMX, lots of Grey Haired bicyclists, with smolka mobiles on their heads, a 7 year old is on the ride. So wide variety of age groups. Some people are wearing their "Smolka Polka" T-shirts that Team Spider made for the Revelocity party.

Check back later for updates
Ride leaves Union Square North and heads downtown (Broadway) Same as last month. 12 Scooter cops escort alongside the left side. A firetruck is trying to get through. How weird and ironic that there is an emergency situation needing a fire truck right when the critical mass leaves...what a whacky coincidence. I mean if there REALLY was a situation and I were a fire truck, would you pick a route with 400 cyclists on it?
"First Trap has sprung!"

15 Scooter cops came up the wrong way on Broadway (illegal motor vehicle move, endangering people) and trapped the ride, began ticketing people at 8th and Broadway.

People at 8th and Broadway got really bizarre tickets. Told by police that they are being stopped and ticketed for being in the middle of the street...hmmm, I thought you were supposed to ride your bike in the street. Anyway, ticket says...bikes were more than 2 abreast, which legally we have found to be a ridiculous charge. People being ticketed were told to stay in the middle of the street while being written the bogus offense. Tourist from Amsterdam got ticket on his first critical mass, now he has a court date and is leaving the country in a week...welcome to NYC.

More ticketing activity on 22nd and 6th, Ride is broken up and heading up 6th Ave.

Chris stayed at 8th and Broadway and just saw a bunch of scooter cops cross broadway heading over to 6th Ave. Activity. Scooter cops being tailed by 5 cops cars. Another good use of our finest officers and our precious tax resources. I'm sure this is the most important crime going on right now.

Beth O'Brien, bike enthusiast, is helping me edit this from a lighting truck in the middle of Long Island City, but the crew got Sushi tonight, so thats ok.

Sounds like there is a reconvene at Columbus Circle, the lost viking is living up to his name...he is somewhere in Alphabet city with a two straglers eating seaweed appetite suppressents...Lost Viking has a hunger for justice.
Passing 50 fleetweek sailors including one woman in bikini in front of Webster Hall, way to stay focused...Lost Viking. He is hoping ride makes its way downtown

Someone at Columbus Circle reported about 1/2 the ride is there (200 or so) This spot was listed on the spoke card, distrubted at Union Square...they are waiting for more people to show...

People have left Columbus Circle, about 150 or so. Some were afraid to leave because of being completely surrounded. Cops chased people into Central Park.

Meanwhile the lost viking followed a bunch of scooter cops headed to Time's Square to set an ambush. This is nothing unusual, the cops always think the riders are going to go to Time's Square, like its our Medina!

At Columbus Circle a woman with a bike was buying ice cream from a truck. She was slightly in the street, police arrested her.


A Group of about 60 people were riding single file in one lane down 5th Ave. An unmarked black SUV stopped the ride around 42nd and 5th, infront of the New York Public Library. The riders were held until scooter cops arrived and began a ticket frenzy. One woman got 3 tickets. One guy had recieved a ticket earlier for not having a head lamp. At the Library he was issued another ticket for no light...He pleaded with the cops and said, what am I supposed to do...go to a bike shop and get a lamp. He was rewarded with two more tickets. Some people were given tickets for being too far to the right, some people were given tickets for being two far left. Let's can't be in the middle of the street, you can't be to the left and you can't be to the right....hmmmm. Oh I just figured it out. THESE TICKETS ARE COMPLETE AND UTTER BULLSHIT issued by a police force with little instruction about what is going on other than to just give out tickets regardless of logic. After all, people will still have to appear in court, losing a day of work to plead their case and be less likely to attend the next ride. I think the word for this is HARASSMENT!


Got a report that around 40th and Broadway a woman was doored by a cop car while in motion. She was in the bike lane. She face planted and broke her colar bone. There is credible evidence that entire incident was witnessed.


New reports caught on video...At Columbus Circle people were chanting: "Domestic spying" as 4 undercovers were violating the Hanshu agreement and video taping people not engaged in unlawful activity.

Also there is a report that cops went into a crowd of 70 people at Columbus Circle and targeted people. The stopped one woman who did not have id and arrested her.

Well, people are at 49 East Houston reviewing their video tape and recapping the bizarre night.

Special note to all...this was a loose experiment for me to report on critical mass from people on the ride. Some of the information was witnessed by people, some was video taped, some was rumors heard from other people at other locations.
Take it as a rough account of what went down. I will try and confirm what happened tonight. If people know different, please let me know.

Velo love forever!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice job.

10:42 PM  
Anonymous Birdseye said...

Great job with the post Mike, I learned things here I didn't know even though I was on the ride.

It was a strange night. I was at the front of the mass as it left Union Square, and other than a command SUV on our tail for the first 20 min or so, the group I was with avoided being ticketed and such.

At one point on 10th Ave, with the group down to maybe ten people (the ride kept getting splintered) we realized that we were without escort. Ahh freedom.

After 15 - 20 blocks we had enough of tenth ave and turned onto 42nd. A couple nice (genuine, not being sarcastic) conversations with traffic cops that were amused at our little group. And then we went across TS on 42nd. Next thing I know an unmarked SUV and 3 or 4 NYPD vans are screaming around the corner onto Broadway after the ride. I went straight (alone) on 42nd and turned on 6th to head to Columbus Circle. Two other riders with the group come up behind me after getting away from the cops, they tell me that the SUV cut off the front of the ride and the vans boxed in the other sides. I don't know if arrests were made or just tickets handed out. But it seemed a pretty severe action. That group was being very conscientious of lights and leaving open lanes of traffic. Absolutely no laws were being broken. Hell, with as few of us as we were, we were practically even riding two abreast.

At CC we met up with the ride and the scooter cops were waiting. It was very unclear why the woman was arrested. Bystanders seemed very perplexed by the actions of the NYPD. I'm sure more than a few tourist witnessed the incident and have a very high opinion of the city to take back home with them.

I had high hopes for this mass. Many newcomers to the ride, as well as a lot of people who haven't been on the ride for months showed up. It was like a resurgence. At some point the police seemed to go back to old tactics though. I think the the re-convergence point may have irked them. Sure their tactics splinted the mass but meeting backup defeated their tactics. Even with people getting arrested and hurt, we won. We beat them at their game tonight. Their plan to disperse the ride failed in the end.

I hope the the woman who broke her collar bone sues the city for some ridiculous amount of money. I was thinking tonight that maybe we should sue the City and NYPD in civil court for harassment and violation of our rights every month until they stop. Maybe if the city starts losing large amounts of cash every month they might back off. We could donate the winnings to various charitable causes.

11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The woman arrested at Columbus Circle was NOT in the street. She and I and a friend were standing with others on the sidewalk, eating the ice cream we just got from the ice cream truck. She and my friend had their bikes grabbed and the cops said come with me --- the reason being that she and my friend had been seen going through a red light 15 minutes earlier.

She was released from the precinct within an hour.


1:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alley cat em to death!

6:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey mike-
thanks so much for the coverage. i wasn't there either... where's our public advocate?? ...ohhhh right, nyc elected betsy gotbaum- good going nyc! that dooring incident sounds really bad, i hope someone got in on tape or there are witnesses.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

jesus fuck! what a senseless waste of taxpayer money....cops need to remember that their job is to get the bad guys, not harass the public.

11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the funny part was listening to the cops try to figure out what to give us tickets for. "umm... ok... so we're on 6th avenue... ok so that means they're supposed to be riding in the left... ok, yea... so failure to stay to the left. You all saw that, right?" regardless of the fact that we got ambushed from the right so those of us that were ticketed near 22nd were all in the far left lane.

11:34 AM  
Anonymous nycpennyfarthing said...

heya mike, this make a great read for me all the way in seattle! wish i coulda been there for that ride to support, etc.

keep up the good work!



12:29 PM  
Blogger SuperEvilBrian said...

A girl and I were photographed in Central Park by a cop hiding in the shadows behind an NYPD car. She and I were riding alone without the group at that time. Also, NYPD cars were randomly driving around the loop in Central Park. One NYPD SUV stopped infront of Tammy and I (this was loong after the ride was elsewhere, we decided to just enjoy the silence of the Park at night) around 9:45. We exited the park then ...

At one point, while on 6th Ave, the NYPD drove through the middle of the ride and cut it off ... at maybe 22nd Street. It was going so well before that.

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel horrible for the woman who got doored.

I hope there were witnesses.

I hope it was not so bad.

I hope she sues the shit out of this city.

I hope that pig has karma wrap around for him really quick.

I am beyond angry at the idea of this - so now people have to worry about cops causing "accidents"????

Please Please Please let there be witnesses.

6:03 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

I cannoy believe the NYPD have NOTHING better to do on a Friday night than chase bikes around Columbus Circle!
And when you look at any NY paper on any Saturday its full of police blotter horror stories of people murdered or injured on sidewalk fights exiting legal and illegal clubs.

Why don't these cops re-direct their efforts where its needed?
(I know, I know ... Ray Kelley)

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Ellen said...

Let me just add the end of the story. At 42nd and 5th, we looked at our watches, and it was after 9:30 (shift change). With bike riders and many non riders screaming at them, the NYPD drive off. We stashed our many tickets in our pockets, regrouped and about 30+ of us rode down 5th, into the east village and down 2nd ave, to cheering crowds everywhere we went, with police no where in sight.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've said this before: do CM on a Sunday night and see what happens. That's the traditional family time that no cop wants to give up, and triple time in overtime for the city that might think hard if it's worth the effort for a bunch of tickets that will be eventually thrown out.

9:47 AM  
Anonymous philipp said...

while i do not know how the situation would be on a sunday, i do know that many of the cops (perhaps even all of them?) on fridays are on regular duty. i know 'cause one of our ticketees found that out from her issuing officers two or three months ago. that just goes to show you that oppressing bikers and others is part of the regular duties of ny's not-so-finest! i can imagine that, if CM were to happen on a sunday, the nypd would find enough regular duty officers to serve up the tickets.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous mzm said...

Cm spirit is DIY. If the Sunday idea apeals to you go ahead to nize it. No one will stop you.

1:45 PM  

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