May 07, 2005

The Green Party and the Bicycle

The Green Party professes to be made up of grassroots activists, environmentalists, advocates for social justice, nonviolent resisters and regular citizens who've had enough of corporate-dominated politics.

The Party obviously thinks that encouraging the use of Bicycles as a viable form of transportation is a good thing, and says so in their 2004 Party Platform ( more on that further down. )

I found a line in the Platform that Ol' Scott might want to re-read, though:

"We acknowledge and encourage respect for other life forms than our own and the preservation of biodiversity."

This particular Other "Conservative" Lifeform is encouraged by this sign of inclusiveness, and open-mindedness.... :-D

I got to thinking, this morning...

Why not do a search of the Green Party Website for anything related to Bicycling?

Why wasn't I suprised by some of what I found?

The word BICYCLE turned up 18 results and, of those, these are relevant to my current focus on Critical Mass, and the use of Bicycles in the forwarding of causes not related to Bicycling:

1. Greens to Join Global Day of Protest Against Iraq War, March 19th:

...Greens have planned rallies and other events in rural areas as well as cities. Some noteworthy examples:

-- North Caroline, Friday, March 18 The Campus Greens at North Carolina State University will hold a press conference in Raleigh and then ride their bicycles to Fayetteville, NC for the anti-war march the following day, in order to raise awareness about the environmental impact of war (including the effects of depleted uranium) and the destructive and destabilizing effect of fossil fuel dependence. NCGREENPARTY.ORG

2. In the Fall 2004 issue of Green Pages there apparently was an article mentioning the CM from the Republican Convention...

'Die-in' leads to arrests
Action demanded attention for Iraq dead
by Charles Shaw

After a weekend of stunning mass actions during the Republican National Convention - thousands of Critical Mass bicycle riders on Friday, the Green World festival on Saturday, the half-million strong United for Peace and Justice march on Sunday and the explosive Poor People's Marches on Monday - it was time for a different kind of action, to communicate a very different message.

Now for some positives ( What?  You thought this was going to be a rousing Fisking, from start to finish? ):

The 2004 Party Platform has some interesting things to say about Bicycling in its section on Transportation issues.

In its fight to turn back the tide of what they see as a world-wide culture of the automobile the Party has some strategies regarding Mass Transit, the Automobile, Air Travel, and Pedestrians/Bicycling:

1. Make streets, neighborhoods and commercial districts more pedestrian friendly.

2. Increase the greenery of streets.

3. Utilize traffic-calming methods, where the design of streets promotes safe speeds and safe interaction with pedestrians. Create auto-free zones.

4. Develop extensive networks of bikeways, bicycle lanes and paths. Include bike racks on all public transit.

5. Maintain free community bicycle fleets, and provide necessary support for cyclists.

While the "Fleet" in #5 may be difficult to achieve, I don't find fault with the pursuing the other ideas, and #4 has been showing much progress, and success for at least a decade now.

Stories related to #4 are a particular interest of mine.

Regarding Urban Land Use the Platform says:

1. Include bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure in development plans. For example, inter-connected bike paths and pedestrian-only malls.

2. Rather than move populations back to the land, it is important to bring the land back to cities. This requires consolidating housing into such structures as ecolonies, to free open space, and to move about by bicycle, train, bus and on foot so that roadways may be converted to parkland and agriculture. This would replenish urban soils and reduce water waste by shifting from flush toilets to compost toilets. Also in other ways we should restructure cities to respect the capacities of nature and rely on the creativity of neighborhoods.

The thing to remember, in my mind, is that the car is here to stay, folks, so get over it.

Mass Transit, Pedal Power, and "Feets, don't fail me now!" commuting methods need to develope so that they co-exist with, and compliment, the dominant forms of transportation, not eliminate them from the scene.

That idea is something folks of all political persuasions can work toward.

There are cyclists who are not enthusiastic about Bike Lanes, and believe that cyclists should not have to rely on them as drivers of "vehicles" that have the same rights as cars to the road.

While I agree, to an extent ( bike lanes to the left of parked cars should be banned! ), I think Bike Lanes have their place, and don't mind using them if I have to.

So there you have it...

A positive peek at the Green Party, and its thoughts on Bicycling, by a Moderately inclined Conservative, who otherwise has a whole lot of issues with the Party, and its support of, and co-habitation with, a whole host of Left-leaning causes.

Anyone STILL think I'm Closed Minded? :-D

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

Closed minded: Moi?

Letter written to Mr. Scott McLarty, Media Co-ordinator of the Green Party, on May 7th, 2005:

Dear Scott,

Well, at least you ARE talking to me.... that's something. :-D

I hope you will read this, admittedly lengthy, reply, and even pass it along to those you say you passed my last e-mail to. :-D

While I understand, and can apreciate, the number of responses you get to Press Releases, here you are getting a response from someone with a keen interest in the recreational/commuting activity that the "Movement" your Party has expressed support for is using to forward various agendas, not some reporter from CNN, or FOX, with no Dog in this Hunt.

Whle MY audience is, admittedly, miniscule, compared to the above, it IS an audience with a keen interest in Bicycling, and Bicycling related issues.

I would think that such an audience deserves some attention, and respect.

RE: Lots of responses.

I have no doubt you do.

But how many of them have been critical of  the Green Party support of Critical Mass? :-D

RE: What's Clear and not Clear.

What's not so clear to me is whether you took the time to read my writings on Critical Mass to see why I'm against it, and what else I may have written on the issue of covering it, before you judge me.

What's clear is that YOU have made up YOUR mind that I, or others, even more knowledgeable on the subject, are not worth engaging on the issues, and that "further debate" is to be avoided if there is a chance your side might come out looking the worse for wear.

Dialogue is always to be preferred because, through that comes understanding, if not always agreement.

While there ARE times when dialogue is no longer viable this subject ain't one of them.

In dealing with CM I have been disappointed that supporters have not responded in voiciferous, and frequent, defense.

All I get are comments from people with experiences, and opinions, similar to my own.

Just the other night this was posted:

"This is my big problem with CM. I support the rights of bicyclists to peacably assemble. When I attended CM in Philadelphia, there were all sorts of folks pushing causes that I don't necessarily agree with. What does "Free Mumia Abdul Jamal" have to do with cycling and taking back the streets for everyone? This is why anti-war protests are almost invisible. The sort of mainstream middle-of-the road folks who are against the war want to talk about ending an unpopular war, not be associated with the dozens of pile-on causes who want to use the media spotlight as their stage."

This person is obviously to my left, somewhat, politically. :-D

RE: The Kind of Messages

Don't insult me.

You want to disagree with my stance, fine.

You want to ignore me, and not let your Party bosses know of my opinions, fine.

You want to not address the issues I, and others, raise, fine.

But...

When you think of those who disagree with you in the way your letter implies, then it is YOU who are exhibiting Closed Mindedness, and not those you disagree with.

I have tried to engage you, and your leaders, in a discussion, in a non-threatening way, going so far as to INVITE you to defend CM from the reports,, and views, that I have shared on my Blog.

YOU have apparently decided to look at me as some sort of oddity with out of the mainstream views ( Hey, look at the weird e-mail I got the other day, heh, heh. This guy just doesn't understand the issues. It's so sad... ).

I sincerely hope you have made it this far because I want to make a few things clear:

2 years ago, before I decided to keep links to CM on my blog I wrote the following:

"The people active in this movement have a lot of points to make about the value of Bicycling, the rights of Cyclists to the road, and many other related issues, but riding around town disrupting traffic and breaking traffic rules by not riding in a safe manner, risking injury in traffic, and confrontation with, and arrest by, police is not the way to get these messages across in a way that helps the cause of Bicycling."

And that's just the "true" BICYCLISTS, and not those who have latched on to the movement to promote other, Leftist, causes.

If the Bicyclists were smart they would disassociate themselves from the rabble, but too many of them share similar views, apparently, or else they would not share the road with these people.

My basic opinion of CM hasn't changed much since I wrote this at the same time:

1. "Because CRITICAL MASS is so heavily invested in claiming it is a leaderless activity it is very easy for those who lead it to avoid identifying themselves, and answering for their actions.

CRITICAL MASS risks being lumped in with those Anarchists who disrupt Economic Summits & are now hijacking the Peace Protests against the War on Iraq.

All sensible Cylists should avoid CRITICAL MASS."

2. "My problem has much to do with the Ultra-Liberals, Far-Leftists, Environmentalist Wackos, and Anarchists behind the scenes of the Critical Mass Movement, who often have an agenda not neccessarily in keeping with the best interests of Bicycling, and Bicyclists."

The events, and methods of protest, these groups use are often dangerous to cyclists, and motorists, and many folks who attend these events find themselves in situations they didn't bargain for."

3. "Motorists, and others in the general public, witness these events, and come away with negative impressions of Bicycling Advocates, and bicyclists in general.

The Media reports these events as if they were important and newsworthy, when they are not, and in the cases where a protest turns ugly, and arrests result, the media coverage hurts legitimate cycling advocacy efforts.

Is it any wonder some folks hate cyclists, and believe, misguidedly, that we don't belong on the road with them and their Cars?"

Last Fall I made a decision based on e-mails I received from people prominent in the CM Movement who suggested I find a way to read up more on Critical Mass, and proceed with my reporting on the movement from there.

I agreed, and wrote the following on my blog:

"While my experience with CM, and a few other CM events I've read about, and reported on, have given me, and the general public, a negative impression, I HAVE read of, and been advised of, a few positive CM related stories.

CM is not a movement without leaders, and organization.

While there may not be a single National, or World Leadership, there are folks, at the local level, in cities all across America, and the world, promoting CM in their communities, and doing some good things for Cycling as well.

I'm not averse to publicizing those groups, and stories, or adding a collection of CM related links to this site.

CM is used to being reported on by the mainstream media, used to being reported on by those who don't ride bikes and so, very slowly, I'll begin to join those few others in the mainstream cycling world who DO report on CM.

As I become more informed readers of this site will also."

In that piece I linked to a positive story.

In that piece I linked to, and wrote about, a piece, on the Worldwide CM Hub concerning "Police vs. CM".

In that piece I shared an e-mail from Michael, of the Hub, that shed some light on how those in the movement see themselves, and posted my response.

Someone read all this, and thought I was fooled into support.

I wrote a response concerning my thoughts on covering CM.

I basically feel that the CM Movement, and CM events, should not be allowed to operate in a vacuum, unknown, unreported on, uncriticized, and unexplained.

"The Left, and Liberalism, does not have a monopoly on support for legitimate Bicycling issues, and the promoting of safe Cycling as a form of recreation, and a legitimate commuting option.

It just seems that way."

On my site I have a link to, and have begun to write about, the bi-partisan Congressional Bicycle Caucus.

One aspect of this blog is keeping an eye on the Critical Mass Movement, and events.

"Making my fellow cyclists, and the general public, more aware of CM will bring it, and its movement, out of the shadows where the Leftist Propaganda hides among the positive messages about Bicycling.

I am not afraid to criticize, often with strong emotion, and very strong language.

I am also not afraid to publicize the good that those I disagree with occasionally may do. :-D"

My review on the TIME-UP WEBSITE was one such report.

As I wrote in response to a comment on that piece:

"The confusing thing about CM is the frequent mixing of the Political ( anti-war, anti- Bush, anti-America, etc... ) with the Bicycle Issues.

I am slowly learning that there ARE Critical Mass events where the Cycling Issues are the focus, but they don't get the attention that the Political Events do."

I added links to CM so I could keep an eye on it, and so my readers could freely, and at their leisure, explore the movement at their own pace, read the stories I link to in my pieces ( most of which are still readable ) and even choose to participate in CM if they wish.

I wrote: "I can't guarantee I'll change my opinion of CM, or just how much I will if I do, but, hop on your bike, and come along with me for the ride."

My life changed that summer: I have a new, better, job ( even had to join a Union! ), then I moved my blogs, and there were some other things to keep me away from following through with exploring the CM websites.

Now, I think I can begin that exploration.

One aspect of that has been, today, to add "critical mass" to my list of cycling related search terms that I get weekly Google Alerts on.

I invited TIME'S UP to send me a defense of CM that I could post, but they ignored me.

I have long had an open invitation for people to share their opinions on CM, and other cycling issues, for posting on my blog, but no-one has responded.

So, there you have it Scott...

I'm not the one-dimensional, closed minded, person you apparently think I am, and I hope you forward this e-mail to the same people you sent my last one.

Sincerely yours,

Kiril Kundurazieff

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

Greens Media Man: Debate not worth my time

Well, this is getting interesting.

I wrote a response to Mr. McLarty:

Dear Scott,

Would it suprise you to know that I KNEW what your response would be before I sent the heads up?

Hardly anyone who supports CM has responded, even in a limited fashion, to anything I've reported on, so I didn't expect that to change with a national political party, and any of its representatives.

Did you even pass my letter on to others up the chain, or just trash it?

No response.....

I wonder why?

I, and others with more resources, and contacts, won't go away just because we are ignored.

We will continue to report on, and write about, Critical Mass, and if participants, and supporters, wish to continue ignoring, or white-washing the aspects of the movement we report about that are so disturbing then so be it.

I'll report that fact as well.

Sincerely yours,

Mr. Kiril Kundurazieff

The response I next received was even more instructive than the 1st one.

Here is how Mr. McLarty responded:

Dear Kiril

I get lots of responses to press releases and
can't deal with or forward all of them, since I
have a big pile of other work to do.

What's clear from your note is that you've
already made up your mind about Critical Mass.
Since we in the Green Party have already made up
our own minds, and it's obvious that you're
unlikely to join the Green Party, further debate
isn't worth the time I'd have to put into it,
even if I wanted to.

But I am forwarding this note to a few other
Greens, to show them the kind of messages I get
sometimes.

Have another nice day.

Scott

Now, you KNOW I'd have to respond to THIS. :-D

His whole attitude has been dismissive from the start.

It appears he doesn't know what to think of a Blogger, or if he understands that a Blogger, while alternative media, can still be useful as a way to get a message out, much less how to deal with someone who is interested in hearing why the Green Party feels the way it does about something, or supports some "Movement", and politely goes about trying to get that answer.

Or maybe he DOES understand, and is concerned that too many folks will be turned off by the Green Party's support, and defense, of Critical Mass.

While I understand, and can apreciate the number of responses he gets to Press Releases, here he is getting a response from someone with a keen interest in the recreational/commuting activity that the "Movement" his Party has expressed support for is using to forward various agendas, not some reporter from CNN, or Fox, with no Dog in this Hunt.

Whle MY audience is, admittedly, miniscule, compared to the above, it IS an audience with a keen interest in Bicycling, and Bicycling related issues.

I would think that such an audience deserves some attention, and respect.

In my next post I will share my reply to Mr. McLarty.

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

May 05, 2005

Green Party silent in response to Cycling Dude

Last month, when I wrote about Critical Mass, I left a series of comments to an article on the excellent BikeBlog Velorution: Tampering with the evidence.

I had hoped to bring CM supporters, who read his blog, out of hiding in open support of the movement, and to defend the subversive politics of many who use CM events for non-cycling purposes.

No-one bit.

I wonder why?

The other day I wrote about the Green Party coming out in support of CM, and decided to write the organization about my coverage of the movement, and invite the leaders to respond.

The response was instructive.

Here is the letter I wrote:

To: Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator
      Nancy Allen, Media Coordinator
      

Dear Scott, and Nancy,

My name is Kiril Kundurazieff, and I am a
Recreational Road Bicyclist, and Commuter, who
lives in Costa Mesa, Ca..

I write a Blog on my cycling interest.

It is known as
The Cycling Dude.

You can learn about its purpose
here.

I have been following Critical Mass for a couple
of years, and don't think very highly of the
movement.

Your recent Press Release came to my attention
tonite, and I blogged about it in the latest in a
long list of entries on the movement.

I thought you might find it, and the rest of my
reporting on CM, so far, to be of
interest.

Feel free to let all the other fine folk listed
on your website Contact Page know of the above.

You all should feel free to leave comments where
ever ya want.

I think my readers would be very curious as to
what you have to say.

Sincerely yours,

Mr. Kiril Kundurazieff

Costa Mesa, Ca.

Putting the ING in BICYCLING since January 2003!

I could have sent the e-mail to everyone on their contact page, but settled on those who published the Press Release figuring that they would share the letter with the others, even if no-one responded.

I KNEW what sort of response I would get, if a response was to be forth coming, and was not disappointed.

So far I have received 1 reply:

Dear Kiril

Thank you for sending us the link.

I have no response to your blog entry.

Have a nice day.

Scott

No response, he says...

I wonder why?

I wonder if he, or Nancy, passed my letter on, or just tossed it in the trash.

I, and others with more resources, and contacts, won't go away just because we are ignored.

We will continue to report on, and write about, Critical Mass, and if participants, and supporters, wish to continue ignoring, or white-washing, the aspects of the movement we report about that are so disturbing then so be it.

I'll report that fact as well.

One of the projects I'm setting for myself is to explore the links to CM that I have in my sidebar, and comment on the good, the bad, and the ugly that I find there.

When I first began reporting on CM, some supporters challenged me to do just that in some comments, and e-mails, but life intervened, and for various reasons I never had the time to devote to the effort.

That is about to change.

The public, bicyclist, and non-bicyclist, needs to be made more aware of what CM is up to, and just who comes out in support of it, and why.

May 5, 2005 in Critical Mass | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 03, 2005

Green Party turns Red as it angrily defends Critical Mass

With a headline breathlessly proclaiming "Bikers are not criminals", the national Green Party comes out, last month, in support of Critical Mass claiming it's defending only the humble Bicyclist.

Green leaders spoke out against efforts by law enforcement to target Critical Mass, defending cyclists' right to assemble.

This has nothing to do with the efforts, or lack of them, of a city to become more Bicycle Friendly.

Greens called the suppression of Critical Mass and a recent New York City lawsuit to gag Times Up, a nonprofit organization that has mentored Critical Mass, part of a larger campaign to criminalize protest.

Aside from the question of what is Time's Up doing "mentoring" a  supposedly leaderless movement there is the question  of what the Green Party thinks of those elements who participate in CM'S with the intent of doing things that cause the cops to reign the event in before, or after, things get out of hand?

This is not "suppression", but prudent Law Enforcement when done the right way, for the right reasons, by the Cops, and using the actions of a few bad apples to condemn police response doesn't change that fact.

May 3, 2005 in Critical Mass | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

NYC takes Time's Up to court

Regular readers will remember my reporting about the New York organization called Time's Up, and its role in Critical Mass, a supposedly leaderless movement with only Bicycling as its agenda.

This was back in September before I moved my blog to Typepad.

I made an offer back then, and have yet to get any sort of response.

It's understandable, though.

I mean, who has time for a cranky, opinionated, Blogger who has CM's number, when you can get more attention pissing off, and getting pissed off at, New York's Finest.

A visit to the Time's Up Website brings some updates on the goings on.

Last month New York City filed a lawsuit against the group.

According to the 3/23/05 report on their Legal Newswire page, the suit is...

seeking to prevent TIME'S UP! from promoting or advertising events that the city alleges to be illegal. The lawsuit also states that TIME'S UP! and the general public cannot participate in riding or gathering at theCritical Mass bike ride. It claims that any event whatsoever with 20 or more persons requires a permit.

Time's Up takes exception, and responds...

that this case is ridiculous, selective enforcement. Everyday there are hundreds of events that goes on with more than 20 people without a permit. Furthermore, we advertise hundreds of events each year promoting sustainable environmental solutions. Some of the events we organize and others we are just passing along the word. Our right to do so is protected under the First Amendment.

We are hoping for a friendly outcome that would benefit the people of NYC and we are actively seeking funds to defend the right to assemble and the right to free speech, without a permit.

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

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.

If you are interested there are Photos of Arrests, and a PDF available about the lawsuit, and affidavits.

May 3, 2005 in Critical Mass | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 17, 2005

Videos show some Cops lied about RNC, CM encounters

From the That Was Then Dept.:

Critical Mass Pedals Dissent at Republican Bash.

From the This is Now Dept....

From the NY Times on April 12th:

Dennis Kyne put up such a fight at a political protest last summer, the arresting officer recalled, it took four police officers to haul him down the steps of the New York Public Library and across Fifth Avenue.

"We picked him up and we carried him while he squirmed and screamed," the officer, Matthew Wohl, testified in December. "I had one of his legs because he was kicking and refusing to walk on his own."

Accused of inciting a riot and resisting arrest, Mr. Kyne was the first of the 1,806 people arrested in New York last summer during the Republican National Convention to take his case to a jury. But one day after Officer Wohl testified, and before the defense called a single witness, the prosecutor abruptly dropped all charges.

Very curious, indeed...

The article continues:

During a recess, the defense had brought new information to the prosecutor. A videotape shot by a documentary filmmaker showed Mr. Kyne agitated but plainly walking under his own power down the library steps, contradicting the vivid account of Officer Wohl, who was nowhere to be seen in the pictures. Nor was the officer seen taking part in the arrests of four other people at the library against whom he signed complaints.

A sprawling body of visual evidence, made possible by inexpensive, lightweight cameras in the hands of private citizens, volunteer observers and the police themselves, has shifted the debate over precisely what happened on the streets during the week of the convention.

For Mr. Kyne and 400 others arrested that week, video recordings provided evidence that they had not committed a crime or that the charges against them could not be proved, according to defense lawyers and prosecutors.

It always comes down to corrupt cops, or at least over zealous ones, anyway, doesn't it?

Here's a bit more:

Seven months after the convention at Madison Square Garden, criminal charges have fallen against all but a handful of people arrested that week. Of the 1,670 cases that have run their full course, 91 percent ended with the charges dismissed or with a verdict of not guilty after trial. Many were dropped without any finding of wrongdoing, but also without any serious inquiry into the circumstances of the arrests, with the Manhattan district attorney's office agreeing that the cases should be "adjourned in contemplation of dismissal."

So far, 162 defendants have either pleaded guilty or were convicted after trial, and videotapes that bolstered the prosecution's case played a role in at least some of those cases, although prosecutors could not provide details.

Besides offering little support or actually undercutting the prosecution of most of the people arrested, the videotapes also highlight another substantial piece of the historical record: the Police Department's tactics in controlling the demonstrations, parades and rallies of hundreds of thousands of people were largely free of explicit violence.

It is important to note that this man may not have been a part of a Critical Mass event, but many of those arrested were ( 264 at 1 event alone ).

Also no mention of CM, or bicyling, is made either.

Ok, some innocent people, including passers-by, were arrested and charges rightfully should be dropped, and an investigation into the Cops be considered, BUT, and this is important, that does NOT mean that those folks ( some from behind the scenes ) who use, and manipulate, Critical Mass events for promoting purely political ( Socialist, Anti-American, Anti-Democracy, Anti-Freedom, Anti-Bush, Anti-War Against Terror, Anti- Capitalist  world views just make up the short list ), and not Bicycling, causes and concerns, should be Lionized, and otherwise applauded, and encouraged.

Everyone agrees, Left, or Right, that Bad Cops should be punished if need be, and faulty procedures should be held up to the light, and corrected for the future, but the important thing to ask about far too many CM events, especially the ones held at the RNC, is the following:

What do Socialist, Anti-American, Anti-Democracy, Anti-Freedom, Anti-Bush, Anti-War Against Terror, Anti-Capitalist, ideas, and causes have to do with furthering the cause of Recreational Bicycling, and Commuting, in America, and around the world?

This has nothing to do with ordinary Bicyclists who think Critical Mass events can help the cause of Bicycling, but they will take encouragement anyway, and continue on their merry way, regardless of how wrong headed their approach may be in my opinion.

The full, 2 pg., NY Times piece is here:

Videos challenge accounts of Convention unrest.

A hearty Hat Tip to Andrea, of Velorution, who apparently thinks this was a Stalinist Plot: Tampering with the evidence. :-D

I have links to CM in the sidebar for a reason, and I plan to finally explore those links more fully as the months go by.

In the meantime...

If you haven't visited my archives before then here are some things to think about when considering Critical Mass as a movement, or as an event you would like to participate in ( Some links in these pieces may no longer be active ):

My Critical Mass Experience.

War Protesters on 2 Wheels.

Thoughts on reporting Critical Mass.

Socialist rag attacks cops over Critical Mass.

Wide ranging article on Critical Mass.

Critical Mass loses in Federal Court.

I've said it before, and now say it again:

Because CRITICAL MASS is so heavily invested in claiming it is a leaderless activity it is very easy for those who lead it to avoid identifying themselves, and answering for their actions.

All sensible Cyclists should avoid CRITICAL MASS.

***NOTE: 10pm***

Observant readers, especially those who support CM, may have noticed a slight difference between this piece as it reads now, and as it read up to a half hour ago.

I am a passionate writer, and passionate where CM is concerned, and forgot the part about making it clear that the person at the heart of this story may not have been a part of a CM event, and that CM, and Cycling, are not mentioned in the Times article.

Cyclists weren't the only ones running amuck in the Big Apple that week. :-)

That correction has been made.

***END OF NOTE***

April 17, 2005 in Critical Mass | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 27, 2005

Critical Mass loses in Federal Court

This come from Boston:

A federal jury yesterday rejected a civil rights suit brought by a bicyclist arrested on Memorial Drive in Cambridge in May 2001, concluding that the man wasn't wrongly arrested by a state trooper. Peter Rowinsky, 31, now a second-year medical student at the University of Pennsylvania, alleged that he was harassed for riding a bike on the busy roadway. But former trooper John Walsh, who retired from the State Police three years ago, testified last week that Rowinsky was among 100 cyclists from the group Critical Mass, which was blocking traffic and refused to move despite repeated requests. Jurors in the civil case deliberated for less than an hour.

When the Police give you an order to stop an illegal action you should not be suprised when you are arrested for ignoring the order.

Civil Disobedience comes with consequences, even when the action is part of a pattern of actions in defiance of a clear wrong, and may eventually lead to the righting of said wrong ( Think of the Civil Rights Protests ).

This situation was not one of those occassions where a wrong was being protested.

The CM Rider was in the wrong, and got properly nailed for it.

BOSTON GLOBE- March 8th: Jury tosses bicyclists' civil rights suit.

March 27, 2005 in Critical Mass | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 08, 2005

Mayoral support for Critical Mass puzzles paper

From a February editorial in the Portland Oregonian:

New Mayor Tom Potter's decision to join the bicycle protest group Critical Mass during its ride through downtown Portland last Friday is more than a little puzzling.

The function of the Critical Mass rides, we take it, is to dramatize the inequities visited upon bicyclists by a system that favors the automobile. The idea seems to be to disrupt commuter traffic so as to get the attention of City Hall.

We're not sure Critical Mass got through to City Hall last week, although the mayor could probably answer that question, since he works there. We're pretty certain, though, that Potter and his fellow travelers got the attention of a bunch of other people who work downtown and were trying to get home for the weekend. But who the heck cares about them? All they do is contribute to the economy of one of the rare American central cities that works pretty well. And, anyway, they probably just live in the suburbs.

Let the CM get so disruptive that the citizenry marches to City Council meetings to complain, and the Mayor will soon be thinking differently about riding with these folks.

The Oregonian rightly takes the mayor to task:

Protest demonstrations were once aimed at getting the attention of the people in power. So what is it when it's the man in power doing the protesting? The mayor's people said last week he was just keeping a campaign promise. If all Potter had to do to keep the promise was ride around and break a few minor traffic laws, we guess he was pretty lucky. Sometimes mayors have to promise to solve a problem by working on policies and city ordinances and other boring stuff like that.

The Mayor's twilight ride.

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

January 22, 2005

Critical Mass wins one in NYC court

Regular readers will be familiar with my report on the CM ride at the Republican National Convention.

Well, local cops began, soon after, to start giving tickets to CM riders, and confiscating bikes, and particpants in rides took exception for various reasons, and went to court.

And won a round last month....

A federal judge tossed out the New York City's demand that CM events get permits from the city.

I agree with the cyclists  when say they have as much right to the streets as other people, but when they break the law they should be ticketed.

The ride has taken place, every month, for 10 yrs. ,and often has political overtones, but making them get a permit for the regular Friday rides is something that should not be neccessary.

Permits for rides at events like the RNC, make sense, but apparently not to this Judge.

January 22, 2005 in Critical Mass | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack