September 07, 2005

NYPD still arresting cyclists 1 yr. after Republican Convention

And some activist groups, last month, announced they are planning to put pressure on the cops to stop.

the World Carfree Network, a coalition of people and groups promoting alternatives to automobile transportation, announced that on August 27, it would initiate international efforts to end a crackdown on cyclists participating in community Critical Mass rides. August 27 marks the one-year anniversary of last year’s pre-convention round-up in which police arrested hundreds of cyclists. Earthjustice, a US-based environmental law group, joined in support of the campaign.

Okay....

As part of its efforts, World Carfree Network is asking supporters to sign a letter demanding New York officials halt police interference with bike riders participating in Critical Mass rides. They are also demanding the police return confiscated bicycles and other property to the cyclists.

But, um... shouldn't the cops be allowed to enforce the law when they see a cyclist breaking it?

As reported earlier this year, the city brought a suit against an organization accusing it of organizing the monthly Critical Masses.

As I've reported supporters of CM claim it's an unorganized , spontanious, "happening", with no-one leading anyone anywhere, or to do anything.

Time’s Up denies organizing the rides, though it does support them and other urban cycling as an alternative to automobiles, according to the organization’s website.

Left Speak: Support does not mean we are Organizers even though we do organize, and publicize them. ;-D

In July, the group issued a set of demands, including the immediate halt to arrests of bikers participating in mass rides and for the prosecution of motorists who strike and kill cyclists. In addition, the group is asking New York commit to educating drivers about bicyclists’ rights and to adopt pro-biking policies citywide.

While I think the cops should continue arresting law breakers, especially traffic law breakers, on bikes, I DO AGREE that any car drivers who are found at fault in an encounter with a cyclist should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

I also support the drive to get the city to educate the ignorant, and to adopt pro-cycling policies in the city.

I also think the city should be encouraged to support programs to educate cyclists about Safe Cycling.

THE NEW STANDARD: Groups Call for End to New York City "Critical Mass" Arrests by Brendan Coyne.

September 7, 2005 in Critical Mass | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 25, 2005

Put upon Poster Pontificates, and I Respond

Commenter Piper took exception to some of what I wrote in my recent piece on the present, and future, of Critical Mass in New York, and I responded.

Read it all here.

June 25, 2005 in Critical Mass | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 20, 2005

New York Critical Mass's troubling present, and iffy future

I came across a long, but informative piece that deals with the past, present, and future of CM in the Big Apple.

It begins with a thrilling description of the 20 block July 2004 ride as thousands of cyclists clogged the streets, and proceeds to discuss the turn of events caused by the politial radicalism of the RNC protest, and its aftermath:

“It was amazing,” says Kaitlyn Tikkun, a regular participant in Critical Mass, the leaderless monthly ride designed to promote bike culture and non-polluting transportation in New York’s car-choked environment. “We came out onto the FDR Drive and there was a moon coming up next to us, and I looked behind me and all I could see were bikes.”

The extraordinary scene that unfolded on July 30, 2004, was the culmination of six years of rides and community organizing. Coming four weeks before the Republican National Convention (RNC), last summer’s Critical Mass rides tapped into the political energy of a city waiting anxiously for protesters and conservative conventioneers to arrive.

Over the last nine months, however, what was once a “carnival on wheels” has degenerated into an ugly standoff between the New York Police Department and a dwindling group of cyclists, who are divided over what to do next. Mass arrests and the indiscriminate impounding of bicycles are now part of the routine. In the past three months alone, there have been 85 Critical Mass-related arrests. According to New York Newsday, the NYPD devotes “significant” resources to policing the ride, with officers drawn from multiple precincts across the city.

“What saddens me is that for a lot of people whose first Critical Mass was in August [before the RNC],” says Ryan Kuonen, a Brooklyn resident and frequent participant, “they’ve only experienced the police harassment, the drama, the arrests. They’ve never seen that giant party that Critical Mass is supposed to be.”

Yet another claim of CM being leaderless...

The writer then proceeds to contradict this claim, more than once, in the next few paragraphs. :-D

The Manhattan ride begins at 7 p.m. on the north side of Union Square Park. Chris Carlsson, one of the founders of Critical Mass, describes the early days of the ride as “exuberant, surprising, erotic, fun and utterly transformative.
“No one knew what to expect,” Carlsson adds, “and no one anticipated just how amazing and fun and open-ended it would be.”

“Critical Mass,” Ryan Kuonen states flatly, “is the most exciting thing I’ve ever done. It’s a carnival on wheels, and I love it.”

Some participants laud the ride’s transformative effect. “For a lot of the new people who join the ride, Critical Mass is fun,” says Bill DiPaola, a volunteer with the environmental group Time’s Up! (times-up.org) which helps promote Critical Mass in New York. “When people come on the ride though, they get a sense of freedom that they’ve never gotten before. They realize that you can ride a bike in New York safely. By the time folks get off their bike they start think about riding it to work, using it more and fighting to get changes in the infrastructure of the city that will make riding a bike in New York a safer experience.”
DiPaola is convinced that the growth in the popularity of bicycling in New York City has occurred despite the city, rather than because of it. “Manhattan is a flat city, and riding a bike here makes a lot of sense,” he says. “The problem is that riding a bike here is also incredibly dangerous. Critical Mass is one of the things people can do in New York that both lets them ride a bike safely and also makes a statement about where we think the city’s priorities should be.”

Making a statement about Bicycling is all well and good, and no doubt why many people think participating in CM is cool, but the RNC events are just the latest in a long list of occasions where people with other agendas co-opt the movement for their own causes, and detract from any positives CM may have in the eyes of city officials, the non-cycling public, and bicyclists, especially those who have participated in previous CM rides.

More police tracking of the rides, more arrests, and more court activity has resulted.

Many believe that Critical Mass participation has suffered as a result. “The ridership this spring has been way down,” says Kuonen. “Normally by this time of year you’re getting rides of 300 or 400. April’s ride was barely 150. Maybe it was the weather, but I don’t think so. I think the police tactics are working.

DiPaola admits that some of the pageantry and excitement of Critical Mass has been drained by the police. “The city has stripped the ride of families, of color, of people performing, of people on tall bikes, on artistic bikes. That’s for sure. But we also feel that the bike has survived the winter in the face of massive police intimidation and corruption.”

And whose fault is it that any "Family Friendly" aspect of the event has been lost?

Don't blame the cops ( most of whom do their job the way they should )  for doing their jobs in response to legitimate concerns during, and after, the RNC.

When politics, and anarchy, overwhelm the Bicycling Message no parent in their right mind would knowingly want to bring their child within miles of such an event.

The city is trying to have it both ways by pestering the NYC Ride, and being more receptive of similar events in other Boroughs and some politicians are staking out positions on CM.

CM riders, and promoters, are adapting.

Many CM riders are also urging more "good behavior" on rides as well, however:

With the future of Critical Mass in New York City hanging in the balance, participants are debating how to save the ride.
Bicycling activists are hopeful that the political winds are shifting. “Politicians are starting to come out in support of Critical Mass, community boards are voting to support us, the artistic community is rallying around us,” says DiPaola. “We feel like the only people in this city who don’t support Critical Mass are the mayor and the NYPD.”

“Time’s Up! will never ask the city for a permit for Critical Mass because it’s not our ride,” he adds. “We don’t sponsor it, no matter what the city claims, and we couldn’t ask for a permit even if we wanted one.”

Many riders have begun launching Critical Mass from multiple points around Manhattan, a tactic recommended by Chris Carlsson, a veteran of San Francisco Critical Mass’s struggle to stay on the streets in the mid-1990’s. “Remember,” said Carlsson, “it’s not illegal to ride your bike, so we can always fall back on that.”

Other riders have taken the opposite approach, urging participants to obey traffic laws. “What if we didn’t blow stoplights?” asks Critical Mass participant James Bachhuber.
For her part, Kuonen sees promise in the Brooklyn Critical Mass. She’s actively working to increase knowledge of and participation in the event, and hopes that it can remain mostly trouble free.

Time's Up might as well stop with the fiction that "it's not our ride".

You promote it, you sponsor it, and if you don't want people to think so then you should stop all such activity on your website, and off.

Blaming George Bush, and Republicans, for the situation in NY is denying the obvious, and refusing to clean the CM House of its non-cycling elements will only exacerbate the problem, and hasten the decline of the movement in the city, and whereever else such a mix of participants occurs.

May 25th-- NYC INDY MEDIA. ORG -- Critical Condition by Chris Anderson.

June 20, 2005 in Critical Mass | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition a Force in City Politics

I came across a very informative profile of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and its leadership.

In the city that gave birth to Critical Mass, and where the event  is always extremely well attended, and, I'll readily admit, does some good, an outgrowth of the movement has been the mainstreaming of Cycling Activism, and its place as a positive force in the city as seen by the Coalition.

Leah Shahum went from being a CM rider in 1996 to being the leader of the Coalition, and the public face of Bicycle Activism in the city:

As the bike movement becomes a part of the civic landscape, Shahum says, old stereotypes no longer apply. "The image of the renegade bicyclist with blue hair is not helpful," she told me. "Not that there's anything wrong with blue hair, of course, but the Bicycle Coalition couldn't be more wholesome."

Wholesome is good.

Anarchy is bad. :-D

Over the past decade, bicyclists have transitioned from traffic-snarling outsiders to pillars of civic life. They have merged smoothly with the mainstream and, with the imminent passage of the City's new Bicycle Plan Update (also called the Bike Plan Update), the movement is graduating to a new phase.

The Coalition had been revived by CM riders with more on their minds than political protest, and in  14 years a grassroots coalition of people interested in improving  the lot of the Cyclist in San Francisco has gained the support, and respect of city, and county politicians, and officials.

As Shahum said about a recent meeting:

"Our constituency is mainstream, we had people at that meeting who were parents -- one mother was there with a newborn baby. We have older people, homeowners, car drivers. People in business suits come out and advocate for bike lanes and safer streets."

Riding throught the streets, chanting, and disrupting traffic, may be fun, but what the Coalition is doing builds bridges, and respect, and actually accomplishes something.

As one City Supervisor says:

"They've been very persistent and very present at City Hall. Having more bikes on the road address a lot of important urban issues: the environment, traffic congestion, parking, recreation, health. It's not rocket science, but the Bicycle Coalition points it out; they connect the dots for people."

The following numbers are astonishing to think about:

The Bicycle Coalition estimates that up to 40,000 people regularly commute by bicycle in San Francisco. Their membership of 4,500 is just a fraction of this number, showing how broad the appeal of biking is in a city where half the residents own bikes. Indeed, 2000 Census figures show that from 1990 to 2000, when biking's share of commutes doubled, San Francisco was the only county in California in which that figure increased.

Bicycle transportation has become more mainstream and groups like this one can be found as active participants in city planning, in cities big, and small, all across America.

Just check out the links found on this Blog for proof.

Some say I'm too critical of CM.

When it comes to the Anarchic Left, and its co-opting the rides for non-cycling purposes I am, and when, as this article does, the fiction of CM being leaderless is spread, I am.

However, where CM as a positive force for cycling, co-exists with the community I'm willing to say nice things, and share its successes here.

Now things are getting interesting in the Bay:

The stage is set for San Francisco to become a clear nationwide leader in integrating the bicycle into city planning. The Bike Plan Update establishes a stunning goal for the City: By 2010, 10 percent of all trips around the City will be by bike, on a network that will include at least 20 major changes to city streets. Oliver Gajda, the City's assistant bicycle program manager (one of half a dozen people, all of whom bike to their job, who work in Peter Tannen's office), spearheaded the effort to assemble this massive document. "The mission is to make bicycling an integral part of daily life in San Francisco," he says. The City already has the highest ridership for U.S. cities of its size, but the 10 percent goal is a quintupling of the use of bikes.

"The Bike Plan is very important," explains Ammiano. "Even without the Bicycle Coalition or a sympathetic board and mayor, once it is codified, it will stay around as official policy."

With the plan in place, cyclists will be that much closer to bringing the empowerment they first felt in Critical Mass onto the streets of San Francisco permanently.

Very interesting, and very promising.

May 25th, 2005 -- SF Gate.com-- Merging with Traffic: San Francisco bicyclists become part of the City's transportation establishment by Gregory Dicum.

June 20, 2005 in Critical Mass | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 18, 2005

Green Party ignores Cycling Dude

A week ago I reported that a member of the Co-Directors of the Green Party USA wrote me that Critical Mass was going be an upcoming topic for discussion.

On the 11th I replied as follows:

Dear Jody,

Interesting....

If my reporting, and letters, stir the GPUS into exploring the CM movement more deeply, even if it in the end decides to still show support from time to time, then I'll consider my efforts did something useful.

Or maybe the only thing going on at your confab will be y'all sticking pins in voodoo dolls, and I'll start feeling sharp pains in my nether regions until I quit being such a muckraker. :-D

You see, I write about the movement, and have links to its sites, on my Blog, so not just I can learn more about it, and thus become more informed, but so my fellow ordinary Bicyclists, most of whom probably don't have a clue about CM, positive, or negative, can become more informed, especially before they choose whether to participate in CM events.

Since my letter to you several new developements have occurred, here, at The Cycling Dude, that you will find interesting:

Google Alert brings news stories about recent NY CM, and I investigate 2 websites with interesting Pro CM content. 

BIKEBLOG: A fascinating new Blog that is All Time's Up, All Critical Mass, all the time, and is an instructive, and interesting, read.

BIKEBLOG author responds to me, at length, and cordially, spurring discussion on both blogs.

If what I'm doing spurs discussion, and debate, and increases the knowledge of my fellow cyclists then I'm doing my job, whether they end up agreeing with me or not.

Sincerely yours,
The response was very interesting, and disappointing because I had hoped for more:

May 11th:

It has been brought to my attention that you are already in communication with the GPUS Media Committee.  Please continue using that as your connection to the Green Party of the United States.  They will advise the Steering Committee of the need for our involvement if and as appropriate.
Membership information for the Green Party of the United States, as well as the GPUS Platform, is available on our website at gp.org.
Jody Grage Haug
Is it just me, or does the above indicate to you, dear reader, that she, and possibly her Comrades as well, may never even have bothered to read ANY of the links I sent them?
If she had then she would have already known, without having to be told by the Media Committee ( which apparently took a while to decide to say anything at all ), that I'd been in contact with those folks, and know that I don't want to join the Greens, and that I did a mostly favorable piece on their cycling platform.
My reply, on the 12th, to this was as follows:
Dear Jody,
The reason I took the step of letting the co-directors know of what I was doing was that Nancy Allen never replied, and Scott McLarty made it clear how dismissive he was of me, and my concerns.
I took his communications as an indication that, even if he had bothered to read my writings, he had not passed the links on to you, and your comrades as I had hoped he would.
If you have read the links I sent you in both my e-mails, then you will see our back, and forth, and will understand why I am reluctant to write to either of them again.
If you have looked at my Blog, and its collection of resources for Cyclists, then you will know that I'm no right-wing flake, but a serious Bicyclist, who just happens to be Conservative.
If you prefer that I no-longer write you, or the other co-directors, then I will not do so.
You have my e-mail, and I hope still have the links, in case you, or anyone else, cares to read, or even to respond to, my writings, and I hope that if anything interesting regarding Critical Mass comes out of your next Steering Committee meeting that might be of interest to me, and my readers, you consider letting me know about it.
Also, feel free to send me heads up concerning anything related to bicycling that the GP may issue pronouncements on, or participate in, for consideration to be mentioned on The Cycling Dude.
Sincerely yours,
As of this writing I have yet to hear again from anyone in the Green Party USA.
Not even a Thank You for the discussion of the cycling elements of the Party Platform.
Just one more failure by CM supporters to seriously address the negative side to the movement that I, and others, keep reporting on.
Look, if I am willing to report what positive stories I can dig up then there has to be someone in the movement, or who supports it, willing to discuss the negative, in a more than "just in passing", or even dismissive, way, if at all.

May 18, 2005 in Critical Mass | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 11, 2005

Green Party: Topic on our Agenda

Whoa....

My Letter to the co-chairs of the Green Party brought a very interesting response today from 1 of them:

This topic will be on the agenda for the next conference call of the GPUS Steering Committee.
Thanks,
Jody Grage Haug
Now, I don't know what this means, but one can hope it indicates that the Party, even if it in the end decides to continue its support of the Critical Mass movement, will at least  decide to do what I'm trying to do, and learn more about it, choose how, and when, to support it, and maybe criticize it from time to time.
Maybe I'll get a more detailed response after the confab....
Or maybe the only thing going on will be them sticking pins in voodoo dolls, and I'll start feeling sharp pains in my nether regions until I quit being such a muckraker. :-D
For your Convenience here is the story so far:
I hope to respond to Mr. Green in the next few days as free time allows.

May 11, 2005 in Critical Mass | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 10, 2005

Bikeblog's Michael Green Responds

I left the following comment over at Bikeblog, Sunday, hoping to have someone respond:

I have gotten so sick of reading, and being told, that Critical Mass "is not an organization, it's an unorganized coincidence. It's a movement ... of bicycles, in the streets", and everyone is encouraged to show up, and just start riding, blah, blah, blah.

Can we stop with that BS for good now?

Time's Up is an activist organiztion, with a major focus on bicycling issues, openly promoting monthly Critical Mass rides.

CM is not leaderless, and unorganized it surely isn't, especially when organizations set up and publicize a CM event.

Time's Up does many good things on behalf of cycling issues, and is to be commended for that, but think for a moment.....

I mean, REALLY THINK....

I'm all for Freedom of Speech, and Assembly, when done in a peacable, non-threatening manner and, most importantly, legally.

And I think bad cops should be punished, as do most cops of my acquaintance.

However, isn't it possible that the reason the city is so focused on CM is that far too often those attending, and even sponsoring, such events, in the USA, and around the world, have agendas far different than the supposed "promoting sustainable environmental solutions" that ordinary "real cyclists" think they are attending these rides to promote?

If Time's Up, and other Bicycle Activism groups, did what was neccessary to ensure their sponsorship of CM kept Anarchists, and other disruptive elements uninterested in better bicycling, out of their events then maybe the rest of us would respect the movement, if not agreeing with its tactics.

CM supporters should use all that energy to make sure that their precious Critical Mass focuses on issues relevent to Bicycling, because as long as it does not entirely do so it does more harm than good to the cause of Bicycling, and the impression many car drivers, law enforcement, and government officials, have of cyclists in general.

The Cycling Dude
Costa Mesa, Ca.

My comment included a link to this blog, and to my CM Archive.

What follows is the response, yesterday, from Michael Green, the writer of BIKEBLOG, moved here, from its original spot in the comments to one of my posts:

Dear cycling dude,

I appreciate your comments and would like a chance to respond. I understand your frustration about defining critical mass, especially in this world of non-democratic hierarchical top-down prepackaged events. I would still have to argue that critical mass is a leaderless event. Just because certain individuals show leadership and promote the ride is no reason to claim that they are in charge and take responsibility for an event that happens in over 300 cities around the world. I do not understand why this sickens you so much? This issue about definition is really coming to a head here in New York City. The police seriously want a definition of critical mass…they are looking for a head in which to chop off. They want to claim Time’s Up is responsible for Critical Mass and they want them to apply for a permit. A federal judge ruled this out because he could find no validity in the cops argument. “Who would ask for a permit?” No one takes responsibility for the ride. I realize Time’s Up is the most prevalent in promoting critical mass, but it is also advertised in Time out magazine, on various blogs, on email list servs…should all those people be held accountable? Should I be held accountable if I go to critical mass and ride at the front of the pack and suggest everyone goes left at the next intersection? The police would love that. The police are so desperate for a leader that they are trying to sue 4 people as the leaders of critical mass, because the cops saw their names a bunch of times in article about Time’s Up. I doubt they will succeed in State court, but this hasn’t stopped them from putting 4 people through legal and financial hell just because they are in search of a black and white-tidy little packaged definition.

Like I say, your frustration is understandable…but what really disturbs me is your ignorance on the crack down of critical mass in NYC. I may have some expertise in this field since I have attended just about every ride since 2000.

This is not just a few bad cops wilding on a Friday night. This is a systematic crack down on descent and on people’s rights of free assembly. This has been going on ever since the twin towers fell. When President George W. Bush and the right wing republicans got a green light to label anything they didn’t like as either terrorism or on the home-front anarchism. This ism words have come in very handy for the police. Our police chief even said, “the ride was peaceful and then it got taken over by anarchists.” Who are these people? I know people who claim to be anarchists, they weren’t being violent on the ride. I’ve been to critical mass in at least five other cities and NYC has always been the calmest and self regulated. Besides this is NYC, if people go around punching SUV windows like they do in Portland Oregon, your libel to get shot. All of this manifested at the Republican National Convention when the same scooter cops who had been friendly and helped facilitate the ride for six years suddenly turned their mopeds into the crowd and started making arrests…violent arrests. 5,000 people attended this event. Was critical mass targeted because it got too popular? Right before the convention a document surfaced called “operation overlord II” This was a manual for cops to use during the RNC to handle large scale demonstrations…in it’s pages is a section on critical mass. So this bike ride has become part of the police’s checklist of things that are to be stopped at demonstrations. Part of there propaganda used to scare the rank-n-file officers, make them not understand that this is a peaceful bike ride and not a group of hooded anarchists breaking windows and hating the W.T.O. These are commands that stem from the mayor and chief of police who think it is an appropriate response to the bike ride to turn it into a police state. Every Friday night since RNC in August 2004 it has been a terror to ride your bike. Never knowing if an undercover will leap off his bike and throw you to the ground or if you’ll be given a 200 fine for running a red light even if your no where near the ride. Not knowing that if you bike is locked up a cop may come an cut your lock and confiscate your property. This is the world we are living in. This is what should make you sick and tired.

I am so sick and tired of people scapegoating anarchists or ecoterrorists when the can’t just sit down and think about what it means to have a constitution and the fact that you don’t need a leader or a permit to ride your bicycle with a group of people on a Friday night.

Maybe this will help you think more about critical mass…I mean really think.

I pray the WTO, the IMF or the RNC never comes to Costa Mesa California, because all of your rights will be suspended and we can all blame it on anarchists.

Michael Green
Not the leader of critical mass
bikeblog

Now, why can't the folks over at the Green Party show this much conviction, and this much guts, by venturing into my place for a little sharing of views?  :-D

So far 1 person has weighed in on the debate over at Mike's place, and you can to, if interested.

May 10, 2005 in Critical Mass | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 08, 2005

Still We Ride: A CM bikeblog

While doing my last story I stumbled across a BikeBlog to add to the collection of CM related links.

The writer, whose real 1st name is apparently Mike, goes by the name stillweride, and the 4 month old Blog is almost, but not quite, all Time's Up, all Critical Mass, all the time.

What caught my attention was its reprinting of a NY Times story about the recent CM event, that is more detailed, and interesting than the other 3 combined.

It is highly recommended for what it says about CM, good, and bad, and for how even the Paper of Record can do the Straddle in an attempt not to show too much favoritism to one side or the other on a highly charged issue.

Still we get reported on.

Then there was this enlightening report of the ride itself, by stillweride, that trumps the whole lot:

To break up the "lambs for the slaughterness" of Union Square and to able to just ride and try and formulate a mass, a group of people meet 3 weeks back and came up with the idea to have three other meeting spots besides Union Square. These were Madison Park at 23rd and Broadway, Washington Square Park and Tompkins Square Park. The idea was to flyer for these four spots, give people a choice of where they wanted to meet and then use text messaging and try and coordinate linking up the various groups. I went to Washington Square Park and waited with about 20 people. There were 3-5 obvious under cover cops at each location who seemed on low alert (excluding Union square) I got the impression that Union Square was still the big prize and the other meeting spots would just be checked on by helicopter which constantly circled from over head.

Remember, CM is leaderless, unorganized, and unplanned. :-D

Still we ride, still the cops act like morons.

It's troubling to see bicyclists not involved in the ride get caught up in the arrests, but what's just as troubling, though, are the reports of immature, and dangerous, cop behavior in dealing with CM, and similar behavior from participants in rides.

To better understand CM, those who promote it, and even what's going on in NY, from the perspective of those who participate, I highly  recommend reading thru the 1st 4 months of postings.

The writing, and reporting, is most enlightening, and the poster/flyer art, and photography is fantastic, and just as enlightening.

Take a 2nd look at the "Still we ride" piece in case you missed the comments:

2 in particular:

#1-- great report, mike! without imc, your reporting matters so much more.

just one suggestion to help get the word out: is there a link to your blog on the time's up web page?

phil

#2-- Time's Up has not linked this to their site. I would say that is ok for now because of the trying not to link TU with critical mass. I am just a friendly citizen giving my observations and opinions...nudge nudge wink wink.

There was very good communication being used on the ride, very reliable. Besides Time's Square is a known CM hotspot, I assume the cops were just predicting our habits.

I say we always keep them guessing.

Stillweride

At the risk of boring you, dear reader, let me repeat myself: Remember, CM is leaderless, unorganized, and unplanned. :-D

Check out the great story about CM, Portland, and the Mayor.

And, the Manifesto of a bunch of charming lawbreakers calling themselves the  Bicycle-Riders Freedom Front.

Lawbreakers give law-abiding cyclists a bad name, period.

On this Blog you will find things to like, and dislike, about CM, about the cops, and about the glorious city of New York itself.

One thing that is really disappointing is the total lack of a collection of useful links for bicyclists.

Not even a collection of Critical Mass, or other fellow travellers, links. :-D

Here's hoping I'm given the same thorough going over as I just completed, and The Cycling Dude becomes the 1st. :-D

BIKEBLOG.

May 8, 2005 in Critical Mass | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

1st CM Google Alert Disappointing

After this past week I was seriously hoping that the 1st Google Alert that arrived for the search term "Critical Mass" turned up something other than what I expected.

It did not.

And, no, I'm not a happy camper.

I truly want to report positive stories to contrast with the negative.

So let's get to it...

1. A venerable [ politics aside, it's over 70 yrs. old so I'll show some respect :-D ] NY Weekly, The Villager, this week shares a picture of a NY Times reporter being arrested, with its story of a recent CM Ride:

The monthly Critical Mass started out differently than usual last Friday night. There was a rally for cyclists’ civil rights, followed by a blessing of arrested cyclists. And instead of one big departure from Union Sq., the riders left from four different sites. But the city’s response didn’t change: Police showed no signs of backing down from their hard-line stance, making 34 arrests...

Before the ride, a “Still We Speak” rally was held in Union Sq. in response to the city’s recent court action to try to bar four members of the Time’s Up! group from publicizing Critical Mass.

“We submit bike riding without a permit is not unlawful,” said civil rights attorney Norman Siegel at the rally.

Siegel said they plan to file a counterclaim in state court next month against the city’s lawsuit against the bicyclists. The city is arguing that Critical Mass needs to get a permit to ride and a permit to gather in the park. Siegel said they’ll continue to hold rallies before the monthly rides.

“We have to say, ‘No way. We have a right to be here. We have the right to speak,’ ” he said. “Critical Mass will not stop.”

The piece, by Lincoln Anderson, does a fine job of showing how organizers co-ordinated their ride ( using cell phones, and txt. msg. to keep track of each other, and the cops ), and mentions the Constitution, and the right to ride bikes, in the same paragraph.

It also mentions, favorably, how the cops, and CM, seem to be co-existing, harmoniously, in San Francisco, and Paris, while painting New Yorks' Finest in a bad light for their behavior, and planning, for controlling this event.

There is no mention of any wrong doing by cyclists ( 1 cyclist brags about taunting the cops ) that led to the 34 arrests that were made.

Admittedly, though, it's amusing to contemplate a bunch of riders traving down the street chanting to the well-heeled about the need to Stop Shopping, Stop Eating, and Start Biking.

Critical Mass tries new tactics, but not the police.

2. Newsday has a little different, less detailed, take on reporting the same story.

A total of 34 people were arrested at Friday night's Critical Mass ride, the 12th anniversary of the movement, police said.

The 20 men and 14 women arrested were issued desk appearance tickets, police said.

Over 400 riders participated in the largest ride of the year, and its interesting how the reporter, Lindsay Faber, writes that the events have been incident free despite frequent arrests.

Will someone explain to me how an arrest, much less 34, or 100, doesn't equal an "incident"?

...organizers of the event have wrangled with the Police Department, whose position is that the riders regularly violate traffic laws and parade without permit.

It is lamentable that the Federal Courts, in NY, say no permit is needed.

I assume the reason partly has to do with the fact that the events are, um, un-organized. :-D

On Friday night, communicating via cell phone, the riders kicked off the event from various spots in Manhattan, including Union Square, Madison Square and Tompkins Square Park, possibly in an attempt to evade police. In the past, the riders set out together from Union Square.

"Possibly"?

How about ... You bet bet yer sweet bippy, honey! :-D

34 arrested in Critical Mass Bike Ride.

3. The Web Channel, NY1, gives an even briefer report, but adds the following:

Police say 34 people were arrested for disorderly conduct and other charges at Friday night's Critical Mass bike ride.

The report says the cops cite public safety concerns, and select protestors claim everything is peaceful, and meant to promote alternative modes of transportation.

"I've been doing this for about a year now and last year at this point it was the most peaceful thing I've ever been a part of. I mean, there was maybe about 600 of us in April last year. We rode out, it was a great night. And it's just about fun and having, you know, an activity that you can do outside," said one Critical Mass rider. "Now it's kind of gotten a little bit more depressing with the police clamping down on everybody."

Awww... how sweet, and charming.

Too bad the cops want to keep law, and order, and make sure riders, or bystanders, don't get hurt.

Before this latest ride, the Police Department released a statement saying: "As we have in the past, we will arrest people who are violating the law and endangering the safety of the public."

More arrests made at monthly Critical Mass Ride.

None of these stories gives any details about any signs carried by riders that might be non-cycling related, non-cycling related slogans that might have been chanted, or what non-cycling affiliated causes had supporters participating.

To get a clue one had to have read a certain press release, and visit  a couple of websites.

The sites probably will be updated for the next event, but, for now the April info is still available to read.

From the NYC Indymedia.org website on April 29th:

"Calling all RNC and Critical Mass arrestees to come to Still We Speak Rally Tonight, Friday 4/29/05 at Union Square South to protest NYC's crackdown on our first amendment right to speak and peacefully assemble.

"The permitted rally will be from 5:30pm - 7:30 pm. At some point between 6:30pm and 7:00pm, we would love to have all the people who have been arrested at the RNC last August and/or on any of the Critical Mass bicycle rides to come up to the stage to show the impact of the City's crackdown on dissent."

Even granting the possibility that the CM arrestees were all peddling pedaling, it's a certainty that many of the RNC ones were not.

The poster shown highlights the poor, put upon, cyclists, but not everyone at this event even cared about cycling.

But, it's "come on down, we'd love to have ya!" so the "good Rev can bless you, and we can show solidarity."

The Invite.

The Still We Speak website:

Speakers/ Performers:

1st let's give up a hearty amen for the Reverend Billy and The Church of Stop Shopping Choir:

LET US PRAY. We ask the God-That-Is-Not-A-Product. We ask the Goddess-Who-Swims-In-The-Part-Of-The-Sky-Not- Yet-Slapped-With-Plastic-Logos -- is it possible that The End of the World has come and gone unnoticed? We are feeling strange. It is the Time of Dullness. Give us a sign. Amen."

Okaaaayyy...

And the NY Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights ( we believe high ranking US Officials support torture! ), and the Greens, want to share the stage with this guy?

Sounds like he makes the Reverend Al Sharpton look like a Flaming Conservative. :-D

Now for the musical interlude...

The Rude Mechanical Orchestra is a New York City-based radical marching band that infuses political action with celebratory energy and music. We formed before the April 2004 Women's March in Washington D.C. and subsequently focused our organizing energies on the 2004 Republican National Convention.

The one CM rider supports ending the Drug War.

The Volunteer Advocacy group for CM Arrestees, Freewheels, wants to join forces with RNC Arrestees.

Details.

The flyers speak for themselves, as does the fact that Still We Speak is willing to spread them around but not willing to take responsibility for their content.

Now, dear reader, it seems to this college edumicated individual that if you allow the name of your organization to be used on posters, especially ones with lengthy amounts of rousing text in it, then you are showing you support the statements made, and should accept your share of the responsibility in spreading those flyers around town.

But that's just me...

Oh, and in case you forgot, CM is un-organzied, and leaderless. :-D

Want prooof of that?

Then check out the NY Critical Mass BIKEBOG I just discovered.

Fascinating stuff. :-D

May 8, 2005 in Critical Mass | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 07, 2005

A letter to the Green Party

All this writing has made me hungry.

But before I head off to dinner I wrote a letter to the Co-Directors, a few others, of the Green Party bringing to their attention this weeks events as reported earlier.

My hope is to get a different response to my coverage of the story of the Greens support for Critical Mass.

Afterall, I'm just a harmless little fuzzball with a blog...

What harm could it do to respond?  :-D

Attn: Co-Chairs and other Officers:
Dear fellow folks with an interest in Bicycling,

My name is Kiril Kundurazieff.

I am a BikeBlogger who lives in Costa Mesa Ca., and I am a Conservative.

Don't laugh, that's not a contradiction. :-D

I was very interested, earlier in the week, to read of the Green Party's support of Critical Mass, the leaderless, worldwide, effort to spread the Gospel of Bicycling to the car addled masses.

Well, as you can imagine I thought this would make for a good entry on my Blog.

I also thought that it would be interesting to get a response from the Green Party.

So I wrote your 2 Media Co-ordinators.

One ignored my e-mail, but the other wrote a response that has led to a series of back and forths that led me, in the end, to delve deeper into your website.

I am writing you because I have no idea if my correspondent has passed any of my e-mails along to any of you.

What follows are my postings on these events, complete, as of this afternoon.

It's a lot to read, granted, so pace yourself, if you decide to read it all, but I think you will find the effort worth it, entertaining, and very interesting. :-D

My Blog is called The Cycling Dude.

Even if you choose not to read everything presented here, at least look at this explanation of what my blog is all about.

I, and my readership, would be interested in any individual responses, or even just an "official" response from the "Green Party" ( by e-mail, or as a posted comment to each entry ).

Ignoring, or belittling, those who disagree, or disapprove, of your stances, and who you choose to associate the Party with, will not make us go away.

Besides...

I'm just a harmless little fuzzball.

I won't bite...

Well, not too hard, any way. :-D

( Links to all 5 stories inserted here )

Mr. Kiril Kundurazieff

I look forward to hearing from them.

May 7, 2005 in Critical Mass | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack