Saturday, March 31, 2007

NYTimes reports on last nights Critical Mass--NYC

Three Arrested in Critical Mass Bike Ride

Published: March 31, 2007
Three people were arrested and almost 50 people given summonses last night in the first Critical Mass bicycle ride since the city adopted new controversial rules that limit the size of un-permitted rides, the police said.

Of the three people arrested, one was charged for disorderly conduct, one was charged with obstructing government administration and charges against a third person charge had yet to be determined last night, the police said.

Arrests from past monthly Critical Mass rides have numbered in the dozens.

The New York Police Department adopted the rules earlier this year that require parade permits for bicyclists and others who take to the streets in groups of 50 or more for processions, races and protests.

Meanwhile in LONDON...

At the start of last night's ride Des Kay, who originally took the Met police to court, reported on the progress of their appeal. He said it is not looking good as the police are using a high powered lawyer. The police want the ride to be treated as a regular public protest with a fixed route and organisers. Of course, cyclists are not going to stand for this and Des asked for discussions on possible strategies in the event of the appeal succeeding. The result of the appeal could be soon or take several weeks more.

Police are still warning riders with sound systems not to play them within the SOCPA zone and are asking for their names and addresses but take no action when this request is refused. They also video the sound system people.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Victory for cyclists, they ride, they get split up, they ride, the get tackled, they ride...they ride!

Ok, I am in Boston on a job and I just checked in with NYC to see how their critical mass ride went. Its' been a dramatic week of tensions and tonight was the first NYC critical mass with new police rules in full effect. To review...The cops hate bikes and the dirty anarchists that ride them, even though critical mass is made up all kinds of people...most who shower on a regular basis. But what smelled tonight was a bogus tactic of the police to change the definition of what a parade is to help define a monthy event that has been happening around the planet since 1992. After 2 years of battling the cycling community, the NYPD thought they found their magic formula, but alas, they suck and came at it with the same ol tactics. Tonight the cycling community invited all of the major press to union square to hear about what is really going on with this stale attack of our rights of free assembly, and you know what...a lot of the press showed up, with their big expensive video cameras and they heard from city council member Rosie Menedez of Manhattan's district two, Norman Siegel, famous civil rights attorney who reported on how the big bad city of NYC lost to 4 people named in an ridiculous lawsuit trying to claim that these 4 are single handedly responsible for a bike ride that has no leaders. The city dropped the lawsuit this week and the 5 borough bike club is suing the City for the parade definitions which also effect clean smelling spandex clad taxpaying biker riders who think the city is also full of shit. This club of cyclists also spoke at the rally in Union Square, before tonights ride and showed solidarity with those people with common sense. Power to the People. Also the pedicabs spoke and drew even more connections to the need for alternative transportation not to be harassed by our civil servants (NYPD) who are supposed to protect and serve, not arrest and ticket.

So about 100 riders left the rally at Union Square which had another 100 or so supporters who came to listen to the speakers and not ride.

Right at the start the cops began to single people out and write summons to people who did not have a bell or a light or some other law on the books that is enforced about as frequent as someone driving on a cell phone.

The press swarmed in since it was right at the North end of Union Square and Park Ave. South and all the press was there to video tape the ride and put it on the 11:00 news.

The cops backed off a bit and made one arrest, just to save face and make the cyclists look confrontational.

The ride headed up Park Ave South and was getting swarmed by scooter cops and a few 15 pass vans. Still the mode was to stop people for not having warning devises and lights and soon helmets now that the city council also approved a helmet law for employees of a company using workers on bikes.

This split up the ride and two groups formed...of about 50...or was it 49, the legal limit of cyclists to be riding together. The number 50 has been proved by Aramaic scholars to be the 2nd series of numbers besides the triple 6 to symbolize the apocalypse...thus casting all of NYC into eternal darkness for at least a week.

a group meet up at Colombus circle, including Rosie Menedez of distric who stayed in a pedi-cab the whole ride to witness the abuse.

Much more happened...but I don't want to give a way the whole story.

The good news is...there was little domestic spying (cops video taping us, infiltrating, and general cointelpro), Major press showed up for the start of the ride, a city council member stayed with the whole ride in a pedicab, and despite all the drama...100 brave people came out to ride, be free and feel alive in a world run by insane morons.

Come to Critical Mass Early...for a press conference

Please come to Union Square North tonight around 6:45pm for a press conference of Critical Mass, even if you don't want to ride...come and support.

Here is an article in AMNY

Critical Mass to be tested under new NYPD rules
By Justin Rocket Silverman, amNewYork Staff Writer

March 29, 2007
Participants in Friday's Critical Mass bicycle ride are bracing for mass arrests if police enforce new regulations requiring a permit for rides of more than 50 cyclists.

The monthly gatherings routinely draw hundreds of riders, and Friday's will be the first under the new rules.

"I'm afraid we are going to see a return to the police actions of 2004 and 2005," said Marilyn Horan, who has been participating in Critical Mass rides for a decade. "Police could once again block off streets at both ends, corral and arrest cyclists."

The NYPD instituted the controversial regulations last month without City Council oversight. They define any group of 50 or more cyclists, pedestrians or other vehicles as a "parade" that must apply for a permit.

Critical Mass participants say the rules are designed to crack down on their event. They also say the group has no central organization, and thus no responsible person to apply for the permit.

Councilwoman Rosie Mendez (D-Manhattan) said she would ride along in a pedicab tonight, both as an observer and to protest the rules.

"To criminalize the behavior of individuals assembling in groups over 50 is arbitrary and unconstitutional," she said.

NYPD chief spokesman Paul Browne defended the new regulations.

"Persons who break the law, whether individually or in groups, remain subject to summons or arrest. A parade permit gives groups the ability to engage in conduct that would otherwise be illegal, whether it's groups on foot marching up Fifth Avenue on St Patrick's Day or cyclists running lights togther," he said.

In a related matter, The Five Borough Bicycle Club sued the NYPD in federal court this week to block the regulations. The bike club says the new rules could effectively shut down its city tours and other organized group rides.

"We've been doing these rides for decades and they are perfectly safe, but now we need a permit for them to be legal," said Ed DeFreitas, president of the bike club. "Our insurance only protects us if we don't break the law."

DeFreitas said applying for a parade permit was complicated and time consuming, and that police officers themselves seemed unaware of the regulations. A federal judge heard arguments in the bicycle club's suit Thursday, and was expected to grant or deny an injunction in the next week.

This brings up the very definition of Critical Mass which often gets overlooked. I have tried to sum it up in a brief dialog of fictictious characters...based on real people...sort of...Here is a brief scene from Act One of my new play...To Critical Mass or Not to Critical Mass.

Anarchist Cyclist Hellbent on Anarchistic Cycling: "Hey, why don't we just apply for a permit and make the city have to block traffic for us the last Friday of every month?"

Law abidding "Good Cyclist" Hellbent on Good Cycling: "But who is we? Who is going to apply for a permit? Are you going to go to the Police department and say, Hey I am organizing a critical mass bike ride and I need a permit to go from point A to point B.

Anarchist Cyclist Hellbent on Anarchistic Cycling: "Gee whiz, I never thought of that...Critical mass has no leadership...its just a phenomenum that has spread across the planet in over 300 cities around the world."

Law abidding "Good Cyclist" Hellbent on Good Cycling: "That's right. You see this is just the city trying to divide us and stop something which the do not have control over...Besides, even if you do apply for a permit the NYPD just stalls and waits and before you know it your event date has already passed. On top of that they come up with all kinds of excuses like, we don't like that bout you go from Union Square North to Union Square South? Isn't that enough of a bike ride for you? Its all a big joke. I miss Smolka, I wish he didn't retire, I wanted to watch him beat up legal observers, photographers and bad cyclists like you, with out spilling an ounce of his coffee."

End of Act One.

Helmet laws? Put a bandaid on a flesh wound.

Ummm, I guess I've been asleep at the bicycle handlebars cause I just heard last night on the news that their is a new law in town requiring buisness who use bicycle delivery workers to give them helmets. Hmmmm? Here is the article in the NY Times...

By Ray Rivera

New York Times, March 29, 2007

Businesses that use bicycle delivery workers will have to give them
helmets, require that they wear them and ensure that the bikes are
safe, under legislation signed into law yesterday by Mayor Michael R.

The new laws, which will affect thousands of businesses in the city’s
thriving bicycle-messenger and food-delivery industries, were passed by
the City Council earlier this month with overwhelming support. They are
set to take effect on July 26.

Under one law, businesses must provide helmets, at the business owners’
expense, to employees who use bicycles as part of their work, and
require that workers wear them.

The bill also requires business owners to ensure that every bicycle
used by employees as part of their work, regardless of who owns it, is
equipped with safety devices required by state vehicle and traffic
laws, including reflective devices and properly working brakes.

The second law requires business owners to prominently display signs in
their businesses, where employees can see them, summarizing bicycle
safety laws and regulations. The signs must be in English, Spanish and
any other language predominantly spoken by a company’s delivery

“In addition to enhancing the safety of pedestrians traversing the
city’s streets, these bills will help protect our city’s hard-working
delivery personnel, many of whom are immigrants who speak a language
other than English,” Mayor Bloomberg said.

The city does not keep separate statistics on injuries and deaths
involving bicycle messengers and delivery workers. On average, there
are 23 bicycle fatalities in the city each year, and in 94 percent of
those cases, the rider was not wearing a helmet, according to a 2006
city report. Nearly three-quarters of the deaths were caused by head

In September, Reginald Chan, the owner of Jade Mountain, a Chinese
restaurant in the East Village, died of head injuries he sustained when
he was struck by a truck while making a food delivery on a bicycle.
News reports at the time did not indicate whether he was wearing a
helmet, and Police Department records were not available yesterday.

David J. Louie, the chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, began
pushing for the tougher safety standards for restaurant bicycle
delivery workers after a delivery woman was killed in a similar
accident in Chinatown in the summer of 2004. That year, Mr. Louie
approached City Councilman Alan Gerson, who introduced the helmet
legislation that fall. The bill moved slowly through the Council before
it was passed on March 14.

“I’m glad it was signed today,” Mr. Louie said. “But I wish it was
signed five months earlier. If the law was signed in August, maybe we
would have had one less fatality.” He was referring to Mr. Chan’s

Mr. Gerson called the bicycle delivery workers “part of the commercial
fabric of our lives in New York City,” who deserve protection.

Louis Nunez, president of the Latino Restaurant Association, said his
members strongly supported the measure. The group represents some 2,800
restaurants in New York City, about 35 percent of which make
deliveries, Mr. Nunez said.

“We surveyed our members and they have all agreed it’s a good bill” and
are willing to pay for the helmets, he said.

The mayor also signed into law yesterday a bill strengthening
domestic-partner benefits for city workers. domestic partners employed
by the city already receive virtually every benefit that married
couples receive. The new law requires that any future benefits for
married couples also be provided to domestic partners.

This will include bicycle messengers as well...Ok, here is my opinion. I think there is a thing called common sense, if you chose not to wear a helmet it is YOUR choice. All too often laws like this are selectively enforced so the city can find new ways to make money. As much as I think it is a good idea to wear a helmet when you ride a bicycle in NYC, it doesn't need to be a law. This is one step closer to a citywide law for all cyclists to wear helmets, which is just what this city is hungry for in its war on intimidating bicyclists. Now, if this law is enforced to business, maybe it is a good thing, but I believe the common situation will be low wage workers working for food companies who are already habitually riding the wrong way down a one way street on a sidewalk (putting pedestrians in constant peril) will be stopped by low wage officers who now only make $25,000 a year and are looking to fill quotas in order for advancement. These workers will be too scared to blame their companies and end up having more tickets and violations against them. A plastic shelled piece of styrofoam may help in a little car crash, but will do nothing for the most common injury to food delivery people...Theft! I hear of court cases where juveniles are bored and want to look cool in front of their friends so they are jumping food service delivery people and beating them up. If Bloomberg is SO concerned about cyclists well being, why doesn't he demand companies using bicycle couriers pay health insurance? In the case of bicycle messengers, they are often not supported by their companies and considered independent contractors...this gets messenger companies out of paying expensive health insurance to one of the most dangerous jobs in NYC. The helmet is like a false sense of security...its like saying to an employer..."Here, you must give them this piece of plastic to your employees and now we don't have to deal with the REAL issues like how we are going to do nothing to make more room for cyclists...why should we, we gave them all helmets...bye." I have to say I don't like it. I believe in making incentives for business to protect their employees, but laws? When was this decided? What was the civic input or is this just like parade laws which our city government enacts while we are asleep.

Bloomberg once again has put a band-aid on a gapping laceration to the lower abdomen. See you at Critical Mass tonight when our mayors idea of helping cyclists will be to spend millions of dollars to spy on on and attack us…don’t forget your helmet.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Other events this weekend

Friday, March 30th, 2007 Critical Mass
NYC Union Square North 7:00pm

Friday, March 30th, 2007 Skidface
Under the BQE at Graham Ave. 8pm--Williamsburg Brooklyn.
This is a weekly Friday night event hosted by Trycycle and 4916
There will be different events to test out your track bike skills, with cash prizes.

This weekend...mutant bike fest in Richmond, Virgina.
The 30-31st of March marks the 4th annual Evil Fool's Day Cycle
Slaughterama. You'd have thought this shit would be totally played out
by now, but you have absolutely no idea. Quit your job, sell blood for
a bus ticket, and come bro the fuck down.

Friday the 30th - Scavenger Hunt. 5pm Oregon Hill Parkway.
Teams of three or more, if you don't have friends we'll make you some.
This isn't some pseudo messenger circle jerk. This is an open
invitation for any and everyone that likes to ride their bicycle and
do stupid shit. Guaranteed fun and prizes. The fastest may not win,
and only the tight shall endure the challenge!

Saturday is the day of many mutant bike events!!!

Sunday is Steve "Pop" Klein's alleycat in NYC (see flyer below in recent posting)

The Hungry March Band is also playing at the opening of Astroland at Coney Island around 11:30am

City Drops lawsuit against Time's Up.

So after four years of stress, legal strategies and disruptions of ones regular life, trying to make NYC better and more environmentally friendly...our great city has dropped the lawsuit against Time's Up. Maybe it had to do with Jym Dwyer's expose in the NYTimes about how the NYPD infiltrated "law abidding" activist groups with undercovers to guard against Mayor Bloomberg's great Republican fantasy of having 5,000 rich texans come here and defecate on our mostly Democrat town. So now during demonstrations, as activists we have to worry about spending 48 hours in a toxic bus depot and having all of our meetings be infiltrated by big white guys who look like cops...BECAUSE THEY ARE COPS! Our great Mayor, who has never had to answer to any of the wrong doings on civil liberties violations stayed on the defensive track in a recent NYTimes article by Diane Cardwell. The mayor thinks it was necessary to spy on activist groups all over the country, because of security. Ah yes the old terrorism adage...saves you from anything. I mean who knows what those Billionaires for Bush might do with their dangerous satire and highly volatile costumes. Good to know that several City Council members were also on the NYPD's list of suspects...probably because their black.

Well for whatever reason, the city has come to their senses and dropped the lawsuit which basically had to do with a deep hatred of Critical Mass and a goal of intimidating bike riders as much as possible...even though they dene

Yesterday Bill DiPaola, executive director of Time's up was on WNYC

He also issued this statement:
"The spying, the lawsuits, and the city's constant implication that Time's Up and the bicycling community are in the wrong, all create an illusion that there is some type of problem. We have already started to see lower attendance at some of our outdoor events. I have heard a lot of comments from bike riders that they are worried about being arrested or harassed, especially on group rides. We can turn things around by being positive and not repeating the city's negative messages and by letting people know constantly that non-polluting transportation is on the rise, including hybrid vehicles, pedicabs, and bicycling, which is totally true and we should be proud of that.

These divisionary tactics and laws and regulations, including caps and bans, are also affecting the pedi-cab industry. At a meeting at Xup where Norman Seigel spoke with the pedicab industry, who have just hired him as their lawyer, he noted that these tactics have a long history in trying to break up our community and that we need to put aside differences and work together. He also stressed that change is possible, even though it can seem overwhelming, and by working together and keeping the message positive, we can achieve our goals, or in this case, defend ourselves against the city.

This hostility towards us only attests to our success in increasing the number of cyclists and increasing non-polluting transportation within the city. Ultimately, we will get safer infastructure, and more and more people are becoming educated about environmental issues everyday. More good news is that the lawsuit against Time's Up is in the process of being dropped, the bike coalition is totally working together, and the pedicabs are now in the fight. We just need to hang in there. Our work is not going unnoticed.

Keep it positive."

NYC critical Mass is Friday March 30th, 7:00pm Union Square North. RIDE ON!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

video of Bike Ride to End all wars

Here is a video of the, "ride to end all wars" which happened by Time's Up on March 18th. video by Meerkat media.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Check out the videos.

Current TV has a piece on Philadelphia's bike culture, by Andrew Watson.
Diablo made a video of the Global Warming alleycat. Felipe was the winner and has claimed his least for now.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

April Critical Mass to Impeach BUSH

Enough is enough. They started an illegal war, they endorse torture and they spy on. This has been the most botched administration in US history and the citizens of the world are paying the price, many with their lives.

There is a massive nationwide movement forming to not let President Bush get away for his actions over the past 7 years.

The movement for impeachment is kicking off with a nationwide day of action April 28th, 2007...see

Bike Blog is encourging a Nationwide Critical Mass on the Friday before the 28th.

Here in NYC, before the Republican National Convention, August 2004, we had a 5,000 biker strong ride...I say we make the numbers even higher.

Bush didn't need permission to start a war in Iraq which has cost thousands of US soldiers lives, we don't need permission to Ride.

This weekend is a gearing up for nationwide actions in opposition of the immoral and illegal war in Iraq that is saddly reaching its four year anniversary.

People are continuing to put their bodies on the line to stop the war.

In Tacoma Washington, demonstrators are trying to block the shipment of miltary equipment that is being sent to Iraq.

Also this week, 23 people were arrested for occupying a miltary recruiting center in Manhattan.

Saturday, March 17th is a massive protest in DC to stop the war. (See flyer above)

Here in NYC check March 19th peace actions for a calender on events including a bike ride on Sunday the 18th...

Sunday, March 18, 2007
A Ride to End All Wars is an inter-borough bike ride for peace in conjunction with the March 19 Peace Actions Coalition. Feeder rides will start in the outer boroughs and converge in Manhattan to support the UFPJ anti-war march.
Brooklyn feeder ride: 11:00 AM, at Grand Army Plaza.
Bronx feeder ride: 10:30 AM, West Side of Crotona Park at Claremont Pkwy. (2, 5 to 174th Street)
Upper Manhattan meet-up: 11:30 AM, at Nueva Esperanza Garden E110th St. at Fifth Ave.
Queens feeder ride: 10:30 AM, at the Statue of Civic Virtue on north corner of Queens Blvd. & Union Turnpike (E, F to Kew Gardens, Union Turnpike).
Staten Island feeder ride: 10:00 AM at 9/11 Memorial, North Shore Waterfront Esplanade (adjacent to S.I. Ferry Terminal).
Downtown Manhattan meet-up: 11:15 AM, New York Vietnam War Veterans Monument and Plaza, 55 Water Street

Then on Monday, Rally in Wall Street...

Monday, March 12, 2007

Steve "pop" Klein's Mixed Bag Alleycat

Sunday, April 1st is Steve Klein's Alleycat race with a whopping $1.00 entry fee. Steve is known for sending people miles away looking for the most unkown streets in NYC.

pictures and checkpoints from last year.

Up coming alleycat race in Richmond

The Ides of March - Richmond, VA
March 17
Proclaimed as the East Coast's oldest consecutive annual alleycat, this year's Ides is mariokart themed. I think that means you get to thow shit at everybody else. Mayhem will certainly ensue.
$5, 1pm Holly St. Park. GRCD bike polo tournament on Sunday the 18th.
contact bainesworth for info.

Article on Cycling in NYC

article from Amy Landau on her experiences biking in NYC.

The Tao of Cycling
by Amy Landau
New York HopeDance correspondent Ms. Landau gives us a fascinating report of her experience with biking in NYC, the Critical Mass rides, the clown bikers who patrol bike lanes, Times Up! and Transportation Alternatives that give diversity and life to the prevalent auto-centric culture.

“Hey, I’m bikin’ here! I’m bikin’ here!”

Those words could have been the immortal words of Dustin Hoffman’s Ratso Rizzo in “Midnight Cowboy,” as he smacked that car while crossing the street, had he been a NYC cyclist, rather than a pedestrian. I too, have wanted to smack the hood of every car that put my life in danger while navigating the maze of NYC streets on bike.

Let me back up and say that when I first returned to the cluttered, noisy chaos of NYC, it was the bicycle that saved me. It brought me that delicious sense of freedom, space and power that I craved amidst the frantic combat zone of daily city life. And it also got me from point A to point B without having to wait underground on a dirty subway platform.

I remember the magic of my first bike ride over the bejeweled Brooklyn Bridge at night, an experience which rendered me speechless. The whole city seemed to be laid out just for me through a majestic archway with water gleaming hypnotically below, city skyscrapers dazzling above in a parade of electric color. It was like falling in love with the city all over again. As I whizzed by with the cool air blowing through my hair, my companion remarked that she felt “so sad for people who don’t ride bikes in New York.” Indeed, the bicycle showed me NY in a way I’d never experienced it before: it connected me to the city’s terrain, its actual landscape. And from that moment on, I believed that the bike was virtually the key to New York as it was meant to be experienced.

But now I have reached a latter stage as a NYC cyclist: cynicism has set in, tempering my enthusiasm. It’s not easy to commute by bike through aggressive NYC traffic on a regular basis. I don’t enjoy having to fend for my life first thing in the morning. I don’t like losing my temper and having to shout, “Fuck you!” to strangers at the top of my lungs. Let’s just say, it shatters my equanimity -- which is not a nice thing to happen first thing in the morning.

In addition, I am up against an entire system that seems intent on frustrating me as well as other cyclists and pedestrians. Ever since the 2004 Republican National Convention, the NYPD has repeatedly sought to squelch Critical Mass (the monthly group bike ride that asserts cyclists’ right to the road) and the rights of protestors, in general, through nasty tactics of arrest, ticketing and sometimes violence. After a few failed attempts, the NYPD finally succeeded in establishing “Parade Permit” rules. These rules require that groups of 50 – whether on foot, bicycle, or other “devices moved by human power” – apply for a permit before they can march on any street or roadway. A permit means that an established route must be approved by police ahead of time. Such rules fly in the face of the entire concept of Critical Mass, which is meant to be a spontaneous group ride with no established leader or route. Can you imagine such a requirement for the thousands of cars that jam the roadway? In addition, the city is now considering new restrictions on commercial pedicabs (bicycle-cabs), which would greatly diminish the “safety in numbers” affect of cycling in the city. The issue of cyclists’ right to the road is such a hot topic in NY right now that an editorial in the New York Times spoke out on the subject, objecting to the initial Parade Permit rules and calling for greater safety measures for cyclists. A less-sympathetic article appeared in the New Yorker, titled “Holy Rollers: The City’s Bicycle Zealots.”

New York City itself is a city of contradictions, and perhaps it comes as no surprise that territory would be a constant source of debate here, from real estate to the road itself. On the one hand, NY is, unquestionably, the ideal city for alternative transportation. We are already one of the few cities in the United States with such a developed public transportation system that we can claim the “A” train as one of the longest subway lines in the world (running more than 31 miles, from northern Manhattan to Far Rockaway, Queens). The terrain of the city is also relatively flat and easy to navigate, making it ideal for biking. To some degree, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has even begun to recognize the value of cycling to the city’s well-being – the agency recently announced a plan to add 200 more miles of bike lanes! And this is the ultimate in walk-able cities, right?

Well, not so fast. We are also a city absurdly dominated by the needs of the automobile, from the inside-out. Our city officials, stuck in a 1950s time warp (think: Robert Moses), not only insist on driving, but view their driving privileges as carte blanche for committing routine violations that endanger the public. What’s more, even though only 14% of New Yorkers drive personal vehicles through the central business district (midtown), a mistaken belief prevails that NY’s economy depends on the automobile. According to the Partnership for NYC, just the opposite is true: over $13 billion a year gets lost every year due to traffic congestion, and this is merely a conservative estimate, not the toll on the economy in human lives or road repair, for example. Thus, New York, for all its cutting-edge persona, trails behind other modern cities like London, Paris and Copenhagen, who have all addressed their traffic problems through traffic-calming measures such as congestion-pricing, rapid bus-only lanes and divided bike lanes. These cities recognized that traffic harmed not only the city’s quality of life (air and noise pollution/lack of space for walking and biking) but also placed a tremendous burden on its economy.

So what’s the good news for NY? I have begun to realize that the contradictions are what make this city so ripe and juicy with possibility. NY has reached that crucial time of change, a crossroads of unprecedented significance for both its future as a livable city and a financial center. I know of two admirable agents of change that are helping to steer NY into the 21st century: “Time’s Up!,” a grassroots cycling/environmental advocacy group and Transportation Alternatives (TA), a more mainstream catalyst for improving NYC’s transportation. Both groups blow me away with the intensity of their dedication and imagination. They work toward change in different, yet equally powerful ways, sometimes joining forces, but always retaining distinct identities.

Times Up!, “NYC’s direct-action environmental group” is a radical-minded organization purely made up of volunteers with tentacles that spin out in vastly creative ways, embracing group bike rides, cycling awareness, street art, community gardening, public education and more. This group is on the edgy, renegade side, participating in Critical Masses which assert cyclists’ rights to the road, engaging in civil disobedience but also raising person-to-person awareness of cycling safety issues. I think of them as “the people.” I have participated in their group bike rides, clown bike-lane liberation brigade (you dress up like a clown and pass out “tickets” to errant motorists parked in the bike lane) and most notably the 2007 Cyclist Memorial Ride (commemorating cyclist deaths by cars) which they helped organize. By their own account, two of their greatest achievements for 2006 were their increase in public programming and participation and the positive press attention they have received. They were named the “Best Activist Organization on Two Wheels” by the Village Voice. Time’s Up! also helped start the flourishing commercial pedicab business here which has grown to nearly 500 strong [see page 36 for more photographs that relate to this story].

On the other hand, Transportation Alternatives (TA), “the Advocates for Bicycling, Walking and Sensible Transportation,” is made up of young Ivy-leaguers who wear suits and are versed in city politics and diplomacy. They do all the homework to back up their proposals to the city: exhaustive quality-of-life studies (“Do neighbors talk to each other on streets with heavy traffic?”) and more. They invite city planners like Jan Gehl from Copenhagen to speak in NY, help produce innovative films like “Contested Streets,” [stay tuned for the review in next issue as well as the screening of the film during the Bike Film Festival in both SB and SLO] and make proposals to the DOT and the mayor for traffic-calming measures, etc. Their influence as a respected voice of change is mirrored in their regular mention in the New York Times. I have participated in their “Car-free Central Park” rallies, attended their panels and helped distribute outreach flyers for their committees in my community. Among their achievements has been the securing of pedestrian and bicycling paths on all East River bridges (for the first time in 50 years) and a complete 10-mile-long Hudson River greenway (car-free pedestrian/bike path).

In terms of city infrastructure, the latest, breaking news is that sinister Chief Bruce Smolka of the NYPD (the borough commander of midtown Manhattan) and long-time nemesis of Critical Mass, has stepped down, much to the jubilation of cyclists and civil rights activists everywhere. Add to this that the DOT commissioner of six years (Iris Weinshall) has just resigned, and you might begin to see why I can picture a more cyclist-friendly NYC on the horizon. Most of all, it’s the dynamic work of Time’s Up! and TA that encourage me to believe that NY has indeed entered a fertile time of change for the better. The fact is: we have backed ourselves into a corner with all our cars and traffic. There is literally no place to move but forward, and I don’t mean with a car!

When I look at NYC with all its contradictions, I’m reminded of the yin/yang symbol of Taoist tradition that shows us light is dependent on dark, positive dependent on negative. I am reminded of the Chinese artist, Lily Yeh who said that the most desperate, negative conditions she faced only excited her with the greatest promise for their opposite (the prospect of building a park in a vacant city lot). And that’s exactly the force I see in NYC’s future.

Time’s Up!:
Transportation Alternatives:
Partnership for NYC Report:
Warrior Angel: The Work of Lillian Yeh:

Amy Landau is HopeDance’s “New York City correspondent.” She is a writer and environmental educator living in Harlem and working in the South Bronx. Contact her at

the reason Youtube was created

To make fun of our over-zealous ex-police chiefs. Check out the Smolka Polka video..

Friday, March 09, 2007

Brooklyn Critical Mass and messenger race for Yeti

If you enjoy riding your bike in 30 degree weather, then tonight is your night. Tonight is the annual Brooklyn Critical Mass, the ride where we don't need a permit and we allowed to ride our bikes in a group as long as we behave and be "good little bike riders." 7:00pm either at the Base of the Williamsburg bridge in Brooklyn or at Grand Army Plaza.

There is also a benifit race for YETI,

This upstanding young bike courier was T-boned by a car on 7th ave an hour before he was suppose to get off work and go to Boston for the weekend. Instead he went to the hospital and got 36 stitches in his face. And his bike is fucking totaled.
So there is an alleycat tonight to help out the Yeti, because it is up to us to support our bike community and the fearless bikers who live and work on a bike.

Weather you race or can end up at the Alleycat after party in Brooklyn at the Bushwick Country Club, 618 Grand Street between Leonard and Lorimer in Brooklyn.Starts at around 9pm, and the word is there's some sort of drink special.

Villager article and Brooklyn Critical Mass

The Villager reported on the last February critical mass in NYC where we tried to give our beloved Smolka a retirement present. As usual, Jefferson Siegel was on the scene.
The villager article
Bicyclists give gift to a chief who gave them hell
Cyclists Christopher Ryan and Rachael Myers tried to give the “Smolka Cruiser” bike to a police officer at the 13th Precinct, but it was refused.

For two and a half years, police have chased cyclists in the monthly Critical Mass rides. Last Friday, participants turned the tables, leaving the traditional Union Square starting point on foot and marching directly to the nearest police precinct. Riders were celebrating the news that Assistant Chief Bruce Smolka, commander of Patrol Borough Manhattan South, announced his retirement a week earlier.

Cyclists viewed Smolka as the force behind the arrests of Critical Mass riders. His departure inspired many to dub last Friday’s ride “Smolka’s retirement party.”

Several hundred cyclists and many people without bikes walked out of Union Square, passing by Pete’s Tavern on Irving Pl. and the Brotherhood Synagogue on Gramercy Park S. The procession, led by the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, a brass marching band, was followed by police on motor scooters and in vans.

Arriving at the 13th Precinct on E. 21st St., cycling activists Rachael Myers and Christopher Ryan walked a blue-painted bike to the precinct’s front door. The bike was dubbed the “Smolka Cruiser” and adorned with the words “N.Y.P.D. Retired.” A police commander refused to accept the gift on behalf of Smolka and advised the pair not to leave it, since it would be considered abandoned property.

The Critical Mass cyclists then began walking down Second Ave., followed by a large police presence. At 18th St., a police commander advised the crowd to disperse or face arrest for disorderly conduct. Police then stopped two cyclists and issued them summonses for having bikes without front lights.

As Katie from Bedford-Stuyvesant stood waiting for her ticket, she questioned a police commander about being stopped.

“It’s not us against you,” the officer replied, explaining that she had violated a law requiring a front light.

“There’s a gazillion things going on in the city right now, where he could be ‘just doing his job,’” Katie said after receiving her ticket. “But they’re choosing to target us.”

Friday’s ride was the last in Manhattan before new parade rules go into effect. At next month’s ride, which is being referred to by the cyclists as “Criminal Mass,” police will have the authority to arrest anyone in a group of 50 or more that has not first obtained a permit for the event.

Last Saturday, Dude Abides Race

Jacob of Jacobcycles, put together a long, complicated...and I hear fustrating alleycat in Boston last Saturday. (just getting around to talk about it now)
It started at King's Bowling alley which is perfect because the theme was the Big Lebowski...the "Dude Abides" race. You had to complete 5 missions, or so I heard. I just sort of followed people around with the helmet cam and then ended up drinking at a checkpoint where they dowsed people in flour. Yes, I'm getting old and tired. But Boston has a great scene and people came out from NY, DC, Philly and represented. Then we ened up at a V.F.W. in South Boston and listened to a great band, "CocktoPuss" and raced gold sprints. Here are some pictures of the start of the race.

Here are the final race results

Our own NACCC won, best out of towner...go Austin.

Thanks to Jacob and all those who put on a great time in Beantown.

bikesnotscott has some pictures up on flickr.

Another alleycat in Boston

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Battle over Fixed gears legality gets a break...get it.

Oregon has been fighting with a fixie law which effects our favorite simple form of the bicycle. Here is an article from the Oregonian which sheds some light on the situation.

Inside the Capitol

Fixie Bill Introduced

The Oregonian, March 02, 2007

By Harry Esteve

Attention all you fans of "fixies" out there -- yeah, you know who you
are. You ride stripped-down road bicycles or track bikes with fixed
gears. You disdain brakes. Occasionally, you get nailed for it and find
yourself explaining to a skeptical judge how you can stop really
quickly, even going downhill, in the rain, just by pushing back on the

You feel like outcasts -- and that's the way you like it.

No more. You've now got a friend in the Oregon Legislature. And he
might surprise you. He's no liberal bike-riding Portland Democrat who
thinks cars are evil.

He's a conservative bike-riding Southern Oregon Republican who knows
pelotons from velodromes.

Sen. Jason Atkinson, who ran for governor last year in the Republican
primary, has introduced a bill that would explicitly exempt fixed-gear
bikes from a law that requires all bikes to have brakes capable of
bringing a bike to a skid on dry pavement.

"I've got a lot of friends in the cycling community," said Atkinson,
who used to race internationally. "When I was racing, I used to train
with messengers for speed work."

Bike messengers, who zip around downtown Portland rain or shine, prefer
the single-speed, no-brake bikes for their simplicity, feathery weight
and, let's face it, outlaw cachet.

Atkinson cops to riding one as well. "When I campaigned, I always had a
fixed-gear with me."

In Portland, that might have been enough to get him a ticket and a
fine. Last year, in a case that outraged a hefty segment of the
two-wheeled set, a Multnomah County Circuit judge found four cyclists
guilty of riding bikes without brakes. The fines were about 70 bucks,
but that still hurts.

A bicycle attorney argued they weren't breaking the law, that their leg
muscles were brakes. The judge had none of it. Some fixies staged a
demonstration of how fast they could stop, including jamming a stick
between the rear wheel and the frame.

Like I said, outcasts.

Atkinson's bill, Senate Bill 729, would settle the issue for good. It
would change Oregon law to require all bikes to have brakes EXCEPT
fixed gear ones.

Woo-hoo, said Jonathan Maus, an activist who runs, an
all-things-bicycle blog.

OK, that's not a direct quote. He did say it's a good idea not to
criminalize a perfectly legitimate form of transportation. But he also
cautioned against inexperienced cyclists hopping a fixie without some
serious training. They're difficult to ride. And, yes, to stop.

"Everybody would agree, there's a safety issue," Maus said. But, he
said, the popularity of the cycling style is growing fast and
addressing it in state law is a good idea.

"It's a fashion thing," he said. In the bike world, there's always some
new twist to spark riders' interest. "The fixed gear is definitely in
the running to be the next big thing."

Atkinson also is behind a bill that would set aside state parks money
and matching grants to build two velodromes -- banked tracks for racing
fixed-gear bikes -- one each in Portland and Southern Oregon.

Whether his bike bills get traction is anyone's guess at this point.
The Legislature has plenty of bigger issues on its plate. In the
meantime, Portland's fixie community must put its hopes in probably the
only man in the Legislature who knows how to shave his legs.

Read Harry Esteve's Inside the Capitol blog and other coverage of the
state Legislature at

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Whats wrong with our city council?

Let me see if I got this straight. The legislative branch of the cities government...the city council, did nothing when the police superseded them and changed the definitions of a parade rule to stop the critical mass bike ride...But they did act when it came to passing a bill to limit the number of pedicabs in the city, a viable business solution to a polluted car obsessed city.

I don't get it. Maybe they should give themselves another raise.

With them in office...who needs the city council.

Here are a number of articles on the why our city council hates clean air.

NY Times

Daily News