I just read a good article from Bicycle Times - Critical Mass: A Critical Issue in Cycling Relations.
The following text was sent in an email to a London Critical Mass website:
The London Transport Action Group (LTAG) will be holding an inaugural meeting to look at ways and means of tackling "the transport issue" in London. With the erosion of pedestrian, cyclist and commuter rights in the capital, LTAG is calling for civil society to take action and reclaim the issue. LTAG hopes to facilitate this and proposed actions include: the creation of a reporting portal where citizens may report poor train and bus services, dangerous driving and accidents; improving the media profile of non-motorised/ public transport options, and the creation of a network of groups and individuals working to the same end. The meeting will be taking place on the evening of the 23rd February. Please email us if you would like to attend.
The given address was firstname.lastname@example.org and there does not appear to be a website yet.
Here is a brief report on last night's kritical mass for gaza.
A call out has been posted on Indymedia for a "critical mass style" bike ride against the invasion of Gaza tomorrow night. Meeting at Hyde Park Corner 9pm.
The website at www.criticalmass.org.uk is currently just redirecting to the Critical Mass entry at Wikipedia.
I took the Pedals soundsystem on November London Critical Mass and blogged about it on the Bicycology Blog.
Here is the FOE press release about the recent Law Lords decision relating to London Critical Mass.
The Lords have released their judgement on the Kay vs Met case and all five Lords on the appellate committee found against the police.
When is a demonstration not a demonstration? That effectively is the intriguing question that the most senior judges in the country will have to decide next week, writes the BBC's Clive Coleman.
The case will be featured on Law in Action on BBC Radio 4 tomorrow at 4pm.
I missed May Critical Mass in London (I was sailing from Brighton to Portsmouth at the time) but I will hopefully get along to the June one.
There is a relatively new radical bike group in London which has been organising film nights and meetings and a presence on events like yesterday's ride down to the Carnival Against the Arms Trade in Brighton. Although the group does not yet have a name, it does have a weblog on wordpress - Radical Bike Group London. The group also has access to the distinctive green Son of Pedals soundsystem which they usually manage to drag along to the Mass.
In May of last year, someone stood in the road and tried to stop a car, who had hit a Critical Mass cyclist off their bike, from driving away. For that he was arrested for obstructing the highway, thrown to the floor by his neck whilst handcuffed, and then - surprise surprise - also arrested for assaulting a police officer. This Critical Mass "have a go hero" has been cleared of all charges in Bristol.
There is a good article by Todd Balf about Critical Mass in "Bicycling".
There is a Critical Mass page at KinoKast featuring videos of London Critical Mass from 1996 to 2002.
There is a Wikipedia page about the Chicago hold-up, also known as "bikes high".
Police attack Minneapolis Critical Mass @ pReNC and arrest around 20 cyclists.
The Met won their appeal against the ruling which exempted organisers of London CM from having to notify police of the route of the "procession" on the grounds that it was customarily held (they successfully argued that it can not be considered to be a customarily held procession since it potentially takes a different route every time). The thing is that since there are no organisers it really makes no practical difference. They have not yet made it illegal to ride a bike or follow other cyclists so CM London will happen again tomorrow as usual.
Falmouth's first Critical Mass took place on Saturday 5th May.
Matlan Rochlitz and others put together a current affairs piece on London Critical Mass for their Video Journalism course at Westminster University. They have posted the rusults of their effort on YouTube - see Part I and Part II.
Here is an audio interview with Des Kay about developments in the the Met appeal against his High Court victory regarding London Critical Mass.
Last night I took part in a Critical Mass style bike ride in London as part of the protest against the Trident renewal. It was listed as "Bikes Not Bombs" on the Trident Vote Day website. As about 100 of us set off from the South Bank police told us that we would not be allowed to ride around Parliament Square and it was no idle threat. Once we reached the square we only made it one third of the way round before officers ran out into the road and blocked our progress. For more details check my nuclear notes.
In other news, the Met have appealed against that High Court ruling that London Critical Mass is not a notifiable procession. I think the case was heard yesterday but I don't know the result yet. A woman from BBC London left a message on my mobile today asking if I had any info - I phoned her back but she did not answer so I left a message for her but she did not get back to me again.
I am not sure about this procession thing. I don't like the idea that Critical Mass is operating under cover of being a procession because it is only exempted from being notifiable on the basis that it is one that is "commonly or customarily held". That is all very well for London Critical Mass (which is well established) but not much help when it comes to establishing Critical Mass in other towns or cities. If the exemption does not apply then to be allowed as a public procession an organiser would have to come forward with a route proposal etc, which is clearly against the spirit of Critical Mass.
I would rather argue that Critical Mass is just traffic and not subject to any rules about processions, but in the High Court ruling Lord Justice Sedley seemed to reject that argument on the basis that Critical Mass has a "collective intention". In that case what if me and a couple of friends decide to travel together from Hackney to Hyde Park by bicycle? If we ride together then we oviously have "collective intention" so is that a notifiable procession? OK, so perhaps that is not a public procession. What if I mentioned it in advance on my blog then would it be a public procession and therefore notifiable. I don't know - it seems to be a grey area.
Clearly there is no law preventing me from going out for a ride on my bike (provided I obey traffic regulations). When I am riding I look forward to coming across across other cyclists going my way and I will often ride with them. I might in fact seek out times/places where I think there might be other cyclists and I don't think there is a law against that. I know that if I go to the South Bank on the last Friday of the month I am likely to find other people on bikes that I can ride along with, and again I don't see how the law can prevent me from doing that.
I don't know what the basis of the Met appeal is, but the only thing I can think of is that they want to overturn the interpretation of "customary" and say that it requires a fixed route (which might mean that an Annual Remembrance Day parade becomes notifiable unless it always follows the same route). If that is what they are trying to do and they succeed then London CM could become a notifiable procession in the eyes of the law, and since there is nobody in a position to provide notification it would lose its protection. In that case if the police tried to stop me cycling I would argue that I am not taking part in a procession but am just out enjoying a ride on my bike and that I had decided to follow some other people doing the same.
Of course if I am just traffic then I should be obeying traffic regulations, whereas on the Mass people often ride through red lights. The thing is, it is not clear that being recognised as a customary public procession implies a right to ride through red lights so I don't see what is gained. In the past I used to rely on the police taking a pragmatic view and realising that it was sensible to turn a blind eye.
In fact I am one of those evil red light jumpers and have been known to blatently ride through a whole succession of red lights when riding on my own. I know I could get busted but I never have so far, and of course I take the utmost care not to inconvenience any other road users or put myself or anyone else in danger.
I have been meaning to mention the Critical Mass Wikia. By it's very nature there can be no "official" Critical Mass website but this seems like a good place to gather information and links. Anyone can contribute, which fits in with the general ethos of CM.
If you like Critical Mass but would prefer faster and less obviously "political" rides you might like to check out the Midnight Ridazz website.
David Ronfeldt an John Arquilla are joint authors of "Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime and Militancy" (RAND 2001). A paper based on chapter 10 of the book has a couple of chapters about Critical Mass, of which this is the second:
The aim is to ride en masse. The preference may be for "keeping Mass" (riding in a single, large, spread-out mass), but for safety or other reasons a ride may splinter into "minimasses" (multiple, dense small groups). Group decision-making about when and where to alter the route of a ride may occur on the fly, as a function of "dynamic street smarts" among the bicyclists up front. A "buddy system" is used to watch out for each other within a mass. Whistle signals are used for some command and control (e.g., stop, go, turn). "Cell phone contact" is used for communications between minimasses, which is particularly helpful if riders want to regroup splinters into a single mass. Tactics during a ride may include "corking" an intersection and "swarming" around a lone car. For much of the 1990s, there were tendencies for confrontation - if not by the riders then by police who came to "escort" and "herd" them. But by 1999, CM became "a ride dominated by creative self-governance and celebratory experimentation - with little or no ill will, and an eye out for avoiding confrontation".
Well I couldn't be part of the Mass this month but I heard that it was in marked contrast to last month's ride, and contrary to my expectations it was apparently largely hassle free. This is good news indeed, and bodes well for future rides.
Meanwhile, in NYC, 200 cyclists and pedestrians walked with the Rude Mechanical Orchestra to say farewell to Bruce Smolka.
I missed Critical Mass in November and December and I wasn't sure about going in January until I heard that the AV2HIRE crew were planning to bring a 5kW soundsystem distributed between a number of radio linked bikes. In December I couldn't go because I was in the Lake District but in November I just didn't really feel like it because it seemed to me that the Mass had been loosing its way. One of the few things that seems to unite the Mass is the slogan "We are not blocking traffic, we are traffic!" but last year there were a number of people showing up regularly whose main goal seemed to be to try to hold up traffic as much as possible. They did this by getting to the front of the Mass and then stopping in the middle of every major junction, pissing off not only motorists and the police but also loads of people on the Mass who are there for a bike ride, not to stand around in the street for ages waiting for the Mass to get moving. One of the main culprits would frequently start an "Oggy Oggy Oggy" chant and on one occasion did his utmost to rile up the police by chanting something involving the words "kill a copper". I don't know what these idiots were hoping to achieve, but it was obvious that their attitude was likely to lead to trouble for the Mass.
OK, so back to my January report. I took my road bike and arrived at the South Bank at the same time as an unusually large contingent of police. While I was tightening some loose spokes someone told me that one of the regular police had just warned him about red light jumping. The soundsystem was there, as impressive as I had imagined, and at about 7pm we set off. We started with the most common route variation which is round the IMAX roundabout and over Waterloo Bridge, but then we did something I had never done before, we dived down the Strand underpass which was most excellent. By the time we came out on Kingsway the Mass was already well strung out so there was a long stop to regroup. The soundsystem was near the back and I stayed near it to enjoy the tunes and avoid getting pissed off by people at the front trying to pick fights with motorists. We ended up going along Oxford Street again, which I personally think is a stupid way to go, but for some reason that didn't annoy me this time and I was quite enjoying the whole thing. Then we got to Oxford Circus and everything ground to a halt. I left at that point to go hang out at Piccadilly Circus and eventually the rest of the Mass arrived but it had got split into two groups separated by about twenty minutes. I later realised that most of the delays had been due to the police following through with their threat and issuing fixed penalty notices for red light jumping. Eventually the two main groups merged again at Trafalgar Square although lots of people seemed to have already dropped out. I stayed with the Mass till Parliament Square but by then numbers were right down and I headed back to Kings Cross to catch a train home.
Since then there has been lots of discussion on the list about the police "crackdown", why it happened, and what it means for the future of London Critical Mass. I won't be able to go this Month but I expect the police will be issuing tickets again. Apparently one guy refused to accept a fixed penalty last month and they let him off scott free but that is a risky bluff because they might decide to start arresting. If you go this month, make sure your bike is legal, with reflector, lights, bell etc. When the police clearly tell you to go through red lights you should be OK but otherwise be careful.
The website at www.criticalmass.org.uk is coming along nicely.
There was a low turnout for Sack Parliament yesterday, and an even lower turnout for the associated "Critical Mass". Here is Doug's report:
Only a handful of riders turned up at the South Bank between Midday and about 12.15. Due to the fact that we were heavily out numbered by police, who would amost certainly try to stop us getting into Parliament Square, it was decided to leave and quickly carry bikes up the steps, thus evading the cops. There was a rumour that some riders had been trapped in Oxford Street and others probably turned up at the South Bank late. As I couldn't get up the steps, I rode on alone and entered the Square with no difficulty. There the police hassled me a few times and I got pushed about but nothing serious.
He also took some video and uploaded it to Indymedia here.
MPs return from their summer recess tomorrow and will be greeted by a reception committee operating under the name Sack Parliament. The website lists "Other events during Sack Parliament weekend, and on the day", including a "Critical Mass" which was announced on Indymedia two days before the September CM in London. There were people handing out flyers before the Mass and someone I know said that one of the cycle cops told him that the police were "expecting violence".
Bear in mind that "Sack Parliament" have not (as I understand it) sought authorisation under section 132 of SOCPA and therefore participants will be liable to be arrested under the act. On the other hand, if a separate group of people just happen to be lawfully enjoying a ride around Parliament Square then they should theoretically be fine:-) As they say, in theory, theory and practice are the same, but in practice....
As I understand it the police make a distinction between the "official" CM which happens on the last Friday of the month, and other (more radical) events which use the "Critical Mass" label. If I were riding tomorrow (which I won't be) then if the regular cycle cops turn up at the assembly point I would take that as a good sign - a sign that they are making a distinction between the ride and the protest. When the two events merge (which they are almost bound to) there will be an interesting dynamic between the cycle cops and other officers. If and when the riot cops are let loose all bets are off:-) It should certainly be an interesting day and I am sorry in a way that I will miss it. If Pedals was available I would be tempted to take it in order to provide musical accompaniment but I would have to be prepared for the possibility of it being impounded. I look forward to hearing how it all pans out and am reasonably certain that it will be featured in tomorrow's BBC News coverage. I am also fairly sure that there will be some lurid and sensationalist coverage in the Murdoch press about "mindless hooligans" or whatever the current epithet of choice happens to be. It is too late for potential participants to read my musings before kickoff, but my thoughts will be with them and I hope they all know what they are doing and have a good idea of what they are hoping to achieve.
I was on September CM in London, and although I enjoyed it for a while I eventually got bored and left. For a start there was a distinct lack of music. I couldn't take Pedals because it is up North and will be making its way to Faslane in over the next few days. Doug was videoing so he didn't bring his system, and the AV2HIRE people where not there with any of their contraptions. The route started out with a less common variant, going along the service road behind the South Bank to Blackfriars Bridge where we crossed and turned left onto Embankment. The Mass got really strung out along here and actually split up, with one group hanging a right up to Trafalgar square while others continued to Parliament Square. This had the effect of splitting the police escort, which meant that they were in far less control than usual. Both groups re-converged chaotically around Piccadilly Circus and then headed up towards Oxford Street. This is the point where I first left the Mass to ride around on my own for a bit, but I did bump into it again briefly a couple of times. I don't like going to Oxford Street and would prefer to do some rides that avoided the main central area altogether, but the Mass seems to be stuck in a bit of a rut and I am not sure whether I can be bothered to keep making the trek down to London to repeat essentially the same well worn route every month. We shall see.
If anyone has been wondering what the "Oggy Oggy Oggy" chant is about, I did a bit of research and came up with this Wikipedia entry.
Here is a great short film about bike culture and Critical Mass.
I missed the August London Critical Mass because I was in Lancaster on the Bicycology roadshow where we took part in a Lancaster Critical Mass.
I have been following Aaron Swartz's blog for a long time. Some time back he got himself a cool recumbent bike so I knew he was into cycling. Well now he has been on his first Critical Mass, which happened to be in Boston, USA. He had a great time and has written a report.
Last night's London Critical Mass was a strange one (for me at least). I took Pedals along and arrived early to find that the AV2HIRE crew had excelled themselves and brought along a monster rig which included a Bose bass cannon which must have been about 12 feet long! There was a guy with them who turned out to be the famous Mike Burrows and I put my engineer's hat on for a fairly lengthy chat with him about mechanical stored energy systems etc. DJ Eon was supposed to be arriving to accompany me on Pedals but he was late and I had to set off without him, which meant I had a space on the tandem to take an Italian woman who had turned up without a bike in the hope of somehow being able to join the ride. I left it till the last minute to leave and joined the back of the Mass, which seemed to proceed at an even more glacial pace than usual. This might have been because of a number of people trying to follow on foot, or interaction with numerous people out and about protesting against the Israeli military action in Lebanon, or perhaps because the crew near the front were having problems manoeuvring the cannon through traffic - probably a combination of all three. Eon phoned me on my mobile and caught up with us on the way up Whitehall, where the head of the Mass was dallying outside Downing Street. Eon switched places with my Italian passenger and got some tunes going. When we started moving again I gradually started working my way forward through the Mass until eventually, somewhere near Tavistock square, we caught up with the bass cannon for an almighty sound clash:-) Unfortunately we managed to blow our tweeter in the process! Eon turned up the treble on his iPod to compensate (we still had the powerful mid-range horn) but in combination with the hot weather and minimal airflow, this then caused the top amp to cut out due to thermal overload. With only the bass running we decided to stop and ponder our options, leaving the rest of the Mass to continue on its way. Chilling in Tavistock Square gave us and the amp a much needed break and later we we had a nice ride back to South London playing some mellow dub which suited our bass heavy rig.
The best known London CM website is now being looked after by a new webmaster who has revamped it.
Aino Sutinen interviewed some Massers for a University of Sussex Sociology project and wrote it up as a paper called "We are Traffic! The Diverse Meanings of the Critical Mass Cycling Movement to its Participants in Brighton and London". Since I am quoted in the introduction I decided (with Aino's permission) to make it available online.
I didn't take Pedals on June Critical Mass in London, which meant I was free to move around more on my nimble road bike and soak up the atmosphere in different sections of the Mass. I thought Doug's would probably be the most prominent soundsystem but some guys from AV2HIRE.COM had brought along an impressive rig with a Peavey speaker hung on each side. Not quite up to the standard of Pedals but he was talking about adding a 1k bass cannon for next month which should kick ass.
Des Kay has won his case and the High Court have ruled that Critical Mass is not a notifiable procession under the Public Order Act. This means that the police have no authority to demand advance notice of the timing and the route - which is just as well because the route is never pre-determined.
The "One Less Car" stickers that you see on many bikes at CM can be obtained from World Carfree Network.
I got an email from a guy called Marty who asked me to update a link on this page. It was the one for the London Friday Night Skate. Apparently all the volunteer marshals who used to help with the skate quit last year - due to personal differences with citiskate, who claimed ownership of the skate. They then created an independent "not for profit" skate. Since early this year all Friday Night Skates and Sunday Strolls have been coordinated by www.lfns.co.uk.
Here is my report on last night's London Critical Mass.
Des Kay is to launch a high court challenge against police claims that London CM is unlawful. Actually, this is a case that has been pending since January. Papers were filed in the High Court by Friends of the Earth on January 16th, and the full press release was posted on the cm-london list the following day. BBC London have reported on the court case and the report can be viewed at archive.org.
Tracking the Sultan, the Elephant and the little girl.
Here is my London May May Critical Mass 2006 report.
Doug has posted a London May Day 2006 video on Indymedia UK, which includes some footage of the ride.
There was a pretty good turnout for last night's 12th anniversary London Critical Mass. I got there early and handed out flyers for Monday's May Day Ride. There were no big soundsystems but there was a samba band of sorts (it is not easy to play while riding a bike!). From my point of view the ride was too slow and stopped too often - as usual. People started drifting off when the ride stopped outside Buckingham Palace but there were still a fair number of people when it moved on to Parliament Square. At that point I got fed up myself and left the rapidly shrinking crowd. On my way back up to Kings Cross I crossed paths with the Friday Night Skate. They were moving about three times faster than the Mass, and I joined a couple of other cyclists who were following them.
Doug was videoing on the Mass and has posted the footage here.
I just got back from a night of bicycle films at RampART, including "The Return of The Scorcher" by Ted White and "Warriors: The Bike Race" by Christopher Ryan, Jesse Epstein and Mike Green. It certainly helped get people in the mood for tomorrow night's 12th anniversary London Critical Mass.
Apparently Southend's first Critical Mass attracted about 30 riders and lasted about an hour and a half before being stopped by police. If you are in Southend-on-Sea with access to a bicycle on the second Friday of any month, you might want to get yourself to the top end of the High Street for 6pm.
Looks like there will be a Critical Mass in Oxford this month, meeting on the traditional last Friday, 17:45 at the Cornmarket end of Broadstreet. The announcement I saw implies that this is Oxford's first Critical Mass - can that really be true? There is a website at MySpace.
On Friday 14th April Southend (Essex) will be holding its first Critical Mass. Meet at the top of the high street (WHSmith) at 6pm. Out of town visitors welcome, crash space and food will be available.
I have been thinking about the prospect of a May Day London Critical Mass this year.
Yesterday, New York City Criminal Court Judge Gerald Harris decided that the City's parade permit law is "hopelessly overbroad" and "constitutes a burden on free expression that is more than the First Amendment can bear".
The November Mass in London was back to its normal size of a few hundred riders. The December one will be going ahead on Friday but I will be away in the Lake District. In fact I went to the normal meeting point last Friday and one other person turned up so we rode up to the last night of the "Heresy" exhibition on Essex road.
It had been a while since Critical Mass happened in Bristol, but the police threat to London CM prompted a call for a Bristol Halloween CM.
Here is a report of the London Halloween Mass from DJ Eon.
Friday's London Mass was by far the biggest since I got involved over three years ago. Apparently a police officer counted 1,200 cyclists as the Mass crossed Waterloo bridge! Earlier in the day I had received a call from a woman at the BBC to whom I had given my mobile number. She told me that the police had issued a statement to the effect that they did not have a problem with the ride after all?! They certainly made no attempt to stop it - no more letters handed out or anything. So after a while we found ourselves approaching Parliament. I was near the back and by the time I reached Parliament Square the front of the ride had already gone round once. Things came to a halt for a while as Rhythms of Resistance played Samba on the North side and "Pedals" (the tandem towed soundsystem) provided music on the East side in contravention of the "no loudspeakers" provision of the new Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.
After this spectacular un-opposed act of defiance the mood on the mass seemed to be one of supreme confidence. We stopped a number of times and it wasn't until near the end when hundreds of people were dancing in the street in the middle of Piccadilly Circus that I witnessed any serious police effort to get things moving. An officer approached Pedals and suggested to the crew that they weren't doing themselves any favours by stopping there. The crew agreed (it is supposed to be a bike ride not a street party after all) and proceeded at a fair clip down to Trafalgar Square where they parked up on the pedestrian area in front of the National Gallery and kept the tunes going. It was now about three hours since we left the South Bank and numbers were down to a couple of hundred. Most people were happy to call it a day and chill out but some wanted to keep going. One crazy dude went out into the road and tried to block the traffic on his own. His one man street party lasted about 15 seconds before about five cops hustled him back.
After a while a group of about a dozen of us accompanied Pedals down to St. Agnes Place which is under threat of demolition. It was quiet when we arrived but soon people were coming out onto the street and there was dancing and fire juggling while Pedals still had battery power.
Where do we go from here? London CM has probably received more mainstream media coverage in the last week than it had in the preceding three years. There were loads of first-timers on the ride and I hope some of them will bring new ideas and enthusiasm to future rides. The police will clearly have to go back to the old drawing board and it will be fascinating to see what their next move is. I think that some of the police who cycle with us would probably be disappointed if London CM stopped happening. At a higher level though there must be a desire to save on the overtime bill if nothing else.
Looking forward to the London Mass on Friday. The weather forecast for Friday is sunshine and showers during the day, 17 degrees max. Not ideal but I still expect there to be a pretty good turnout.
A couple of weeks ago I noticed that criticalmass.org.uk was an unregistered domain. Today I decided to register it but someone had beaten me to it! They have already got a website set up and are asking for people to contribute info.
One regular on London Critical Mass has done a Q and A on BikeBlog.
Green Party members Jenny Jones and Darren Johnson have said that they will be taking part in October Critical Mass in London. Here is a press release.
The next regular Mass is on October 28th, just three days before Halloween. Many participants are likely to dress up and it should be a good one. It is quite possible that the police attempt to suppress the event by issuing a vague legal threat will backfire on them, and that it will in fact result in a larger than expected turnout! If you would like to see that happen then there is a pdf flier at Indymedia to print out and distribute.
I didn't do anything special on World Car Free Day this year but I have just found out that there was a spectacular turnout in Budapest, with over 24,000 cyclists turning out for a mass ride - see this Indymedia report.
I was down in London on Friday for Critical Mass and it went OK. I saw an old white painted bike on a trailer with a sign about Ghostcycle UK. The "big news" is that the police were handing out a slightly worrying letter from Superintendent Gomm. Someone has posted a transcript on the cm-london list, but basically he is claiming that Critical Mass is an unlawful protest and that police policy towards it is under review. Apparently one of the cycle cops said that he didn't know if the notice "meant anything".
I was not able to be in London on Wednesday for DSEi Critical Mass, but I just watched this video of the day's action.
This Cycling Videos page currently just has two online video clips of London Critical Mass, though I believe more will be added in due course.
Yesterday's London Critical Mass was attended by approximately 400 riders and there was a good atmosphere. I was there with "Pedals", the tandem towed soundsystem built for the G8 Bike Ride. Unfortunately the bass driver burned out while we we on our way up Park Lane and I left the mass at that point. Strange that it went then, since it had survived 800 miles and many sessions at higher volume on its G8 adventure.
There was someone handing out flyers calling for cyclists to assemble at 08:30 on 2005-09-14 outside Bank tube station for a protest against the DSEi arms fair. The flyer said to check www.armsfairs.com for more info.
The blog at www.velorution.biz has links to many other blogs that may be of interest to Critical Mass riders.
Have you heard of the Black Label Bike Club? Check out this short film by Rachel Mayerick which includes footage of tall bike jousting.
It turns out that the song "U-Lock Justice" mentioned in The Anti-Fixed Gear Manifesto does actually exist, and can be downloaded from the website of the anarchist hardcore punk music collective from Philadelphia who go by the name R.A.M.B.O.
The people behind Still We Ride will be doing a mini-tour of the UK in September. They are still looking for friendly venues interested in screening activist media (the screening at RampART in June was of a preview copy).
Michael Bluejay runs a useful Critical Mass Bicycle Rides Directory which aims to be "the most complete guide to local Critical Mass rides around the globe. There is also a directory at www.critical-mass.org which serves the same purpose.
Finally for today, there are a few people known to ride fixed gear machines on London Critical Mass. I thought of them when I read The Anti-Fixed Gear Manifesto by Randy Albright:-)
I recently got hold of a copy of a DVD called "we are the traffic" which contains a copy of a 4 minute film shot on super 8mm by Clare Hill in 2004. Very nicely done, with music by the GMOZ at The Beat Suite and featuring some of Des' Critical Mass Rap which should be familiar to anyone who regularly rides with the London Mass. This was amongst the films shown at the Bicycle Film Festival earlier this year in New York.
On Friday I was helping build a new soundsystem to take to Scotland with the G8 Bike Ride and we had just enough time to get it out on the Mass in London. It was not in it's final form and there was no time to tweak it, but it sounded pretty good (in fact it kicked ass). We were pulling it behind a tandem so the guy on the back was able to sort out the sounds without having to stop. We stopped at the Duke of York for an impromptu street party and then carried on to a G8 Bike Ride benefit gig at RampART.
Sadly, two days earlier a postgraduate student, Apijak Srivannavit, was killed while cycling on the busy Cromwell road (visited by the Mass the previous month to pay tribute to another cyclist killed there in a hit and run incident).
The weather has not been great recently but the London forecast for Friday looks good (sunshine, max 26 degrees, min 19) so we should have an excellent Critical Mass.
New figures show that European air quality standards have been breached in London on 36 occasions this year, exceeding the 35 days that are allowed. Apparently the UK Government could now face prosecution by the European Commission.
Some footage of the 11th anniversary ride (taken outside Downing Street) has been posted on Indymedia.
Brendt Barbur has co-produced a film about the Critical Mass situation in New York City called Still We Ride.
And finally, while talking about movies, there is a great website called CINECYCLE.
The 11th birthday mass was the best one I have been on yet and I think there were even more riders than on last year's 10th birthday extravaganza. We rode out to South Kensington to pay tribute to Thomas Sippel-Dau who was killed in a hit-and-run (Police plea over death of cyclist). After a minute silence there was the traditional CM salute of bicycles held high and we noticed that someone joined in by holding their folding bike out of the top floor window of an overlooking building:-) Then it was back into town to finish the ride at the Institute for Autonomy, an occupied social centre on Gower Street. The Soapbox Trike provided music as usual but ran out of battery power on the way back into town. However, just as we arrived in Gower Street a Samba band came round the corner and for a few minutes there was a real street party atmosphere. I hung out for a while and then escorted the Soapbox back down to South London where I found a place to crash.
People do complain about the police presence on London CM, but at least they are not complete assholes like the ones in New York who spent the night randomly intimidating, harassing, assaulting and arresting cyclists. See this report at BikeBlog. By the way, New York City has filed a legal brief to censor TIME'S UP! (and those "acting in concert") from publicising Critical Mass, or any gathering of 20 or more people in a city park.
Friday is the 11th anniversary of London Critical Mass - see this announcement on the cm-london list.
Someone posted a link on the cm-london list to a nice article called A Coder in Courierland.
Tessa Jowell has told campaigners opposed to London's bid to stage the Olympic Games that any attempt to sabotage the project would "ruin the dreams" of the vast majority of Britons. Strange dreams this supposed majority has. There will be a special Critical Mass for cyclists opposed to the bid which will meet at 18:00 by Tower Bridge on 2005-02-18. Check out NoLondon2012.org for more information about the campaign against the bid.
The UK government is planning to create tougher punishments for people who cause death by driving.
I found this interesting article by Dave Horton about the history of Lancaster Critical Mass.
I got to the NFT early on Friday and chatted to a few people about the G8 Bike Ride. There was a guy called Dan there who was demonstrating an new type of bike light that he designed. I bought one and it is great - see www.danlite.com. There were also people there handing out leaflets for a 2005-05-13 London to Paris bike ride to raise money for MAG (Mines Advisory Group). And while on the subject of long distance bike rides I should mention that The Peace Cycle are planning another London to Jerusalem ride.
Note that after some discussion about alternative dates some people have decided to go ahead with a London Critical Mass on New Year's Eve. I will be walking in the Lake District then but it should be a good one.
New York City Councilmember Madeline Provenzano recently introduced a draconian anti-bicycling bill. This would require every bicycling New Yorker over sixteen years old to obtain bicycle license tags from the NYC Department of Transportation.
I was thinking I would have to miss this month's mass, but plans have changed and I will be able to make it after all:-) I will even be able to get there early in case anyone wants to talk to me about the G8 Bike Ride.
At this very moment a full scale US assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah in under way. There will be people protesting outside Downing Street, and London Critical mass is planning to ride up there to support the action. Unfortunately I can't be in London tonight but good luck to those who take part.
Last night's Halloween Critical Mass was great. I met two friends at Liverpool Street station who had brought their bikes down on the train from Cambridge, and we got to the starting point about 5 minutes before the Mass set off. There was an amazing full moon and it felt a lot warmer than it did on the September Mass. The onionbag blogger took some photos and wrote this report which features yours truly in the main photo!
I am trying to think of a costume for Friday's Halloween CM. Meet under Waterloo Bridge on the South Bank (London) at 18:00 for the last daylight CM of the year.
There has been a suggestion for a Mass on Buy Nothing Day which is on 2004-11-27. As it happens this is the same day as the London Anarchist Bookfair, so there will be a lot of potential riders in London anyway. I wonder whether it is OK to buy Anarchist books on Buy Nothing Day?
I took part in both Critical Mass events on Friday and covered them in my ESF report.
There are plans afoot to organise a cycle tour from London to Edinburgh next July for the G8 summit.
A friend from up near Cambridge came down to London for Friday's Mass and thought it was great, she might bring her kids down for the Halloween one.
There is a followup meeting tomorrow at noon at the Royal Festival Hall bar to discuss the ESF Mass on 2004-10-15.
AK Press published a book called Critical Mass: Bicycling's Defiant Celebration, edited by Chris Carlsson.
When 5,000 riders congregated for the August NYC Critical mass at the start of the RNC over 260 ended up being arrested. An NYC Indymedia report says that the Critical Mass Crackdown Continues with between 8 and 13 arrests made on this month's ride.
Details of the ESF rides were announced today on the cm-london list. There will be two rides on Friday October 15th, one at Noon and one at 6PM. Both rides will assemble at the normal CM meeting point under Waterloo Bridge. The intention is for the first ride to hook up with a London Rising Tide event at 15:30 outside the National Portrait Gallery. A "London Underwater 2050" theme has been suggested if you feel like dressing up. The evening ride will most likely meander up to Alexandra Palace to visit the European Social Forum.
Yesterday at RampART there was a discussion about a possible Mass (or Masses) during the ESF. There was a proposal to suggest two rides on Friday 2004-10-15 but this is not yet confirmed. I am sure someone will announce a firm date before too long on the cm-london list.
On Friday evening I jumped on the train to Kings Cross and cycled down to the South Bank for August CM. There was a pretty good turnout (I counted 205 bikes early on in the ride, excluding police bikes) and we ventured up towards Hackney to visit the scene of a recent accident which had resulted in a cyclist called Hulya Turkmen having to have her leg amputated.
A few hours later, at least 5000 cyclists gathered at Union Square in Manhattan for NYC Critical Mass, and with feelings running high ahead of the Republican National Convention, police arrested 264 people and seized their bicycles. Time's Up have a good NYC CM page.
As a followup to the discussion about bike repair shops, someone on the list recommended Chain Reaction Cycles as a source of parts on the Internet.
In a recent discussion about bike repair shops on the cm-london list these two were particularly recommended:
Next CM in London is on 2004-08-27, where people will be discussing the possibility of a special CM to coincide with the European Social Forum.
Check out the Green Hummer Project.
More information about the James Foster memorial ride.
There has been a lot of lively discussion recently on the cm-london mailing list which is hosted at riseup.net.
As I have already mentioned, my first CM was on Mayday 2002. I don't live in London and I was not a particularly keen cyclist (I like to walk and run), so I was there mainly for "political" reasons. Although I would of course encourage all London cyclists to get involved with CM, I realise that it is not going to be everyone's cup of tea, in which case there is also the the London Cycling Campaign.
Moz has a good homepage with links to stuff about Sydney Critical Mass.
I could not be on Friday's Vicki McCreery Memorial Mass, but I just read a good report by someone who was.
I won't be able to join the regular Mass this month because I will be in Lincolnshire celebrating my Grandmother's birthday. The ride will include a gathering at Blackfriars Bridge to remember Vicki McCreery who died in a rush-hour collision with a bus while on the notoriously dangerous cycle lane.
Manchester CM now have a cleverly named website at www.velorution.org.uk.
The Chicago Critical Mass website has a Worldwide Flyer Exchange which can be used to download or upload flyers for Critical Mass events.
The 10th anniversary ride was a great success. About 300 people turned out to create a nice party atmosphere and we visited Downing Street, Buckingham Palace etc.
Various people have been hard at work promoting tomorrow's 10th anniversary ride by attaching flyers to bicycles around London and there was even a feature on the BBC website which mentioned it.
Note that there will also be a (presumably much smaller) ride on Saturday for Mayday - meet 11:00 at the usual assembly point outside the NFT.
My first Mass was on Mayday 2002 when we gathered in Hyde Park and cycled around Mayfair. I remember setting off slowly down Park Lane with a load of cops on foot keeping pace with us. As we picked up speed they started to sweat, with some of us shouting "one two one two" like we were putting them through drill! Eventually they broke into a run and shortly had to abandon the chase. These days there is a special police unit with flash mountain bikes that follows the Mass around trying to maintain some semblance of order. It seems like they have volunteered for this duty and are generally sympathetic which makes for a good atmosphere, particularly on the regular rides which meet at 18:00 outside the National Film Theatre on the last Friday of every month. Other irregular rides tend to be associated with protest actions, against for example the Bush Visit and DSEi.
Check out this fine poster created by Mona Caron for the 10th anniversary of the first Critical Mass in San Francisco - and I hope to see you for the corresponding event in London on the last Friday of April!
www.zenatode.org.uk Ian Gregory 2010