No brakes, and they like it Brakeless bikes are the latest in-thing for the cycling set. But amateur riders pose a hazard to others, observers say.
By Megan Twohey | Chicago Tribune reporter August 31, 2008
It was dusk in Wicker Park, and cyclists wearing fitted jeans, caps and hooded sweat shirts were gathering for a nighttime ride.
Different frames and colors flashed in the streetlightâ€”a Cinelli Vigorelli, sleek and white; a red Motobecane with purple grips.
But in a controversial and increasingly popular trend, not one of the bicycles had brakes. As the cyclists glided onto the streets on their fixed-gear bikes, the only way for them to slow down was to force the rear wheels into a skid.
State law prohibits riding brakeless bikes on the streets, but that hasn’t stopped a growing number of young people from hitting the road with bicycles they see as pure and stripped-down.
picture from DNC critical mass, taken by: Tyler Dickey In Minneapolis it will be the critical mass before the RNC swine convention begins. Law enforcement already preparing for “anarchists,” according to this article from Twin Cities Fox news affiliate.
Here in NYC..
Well you know the drill. But don’t believe the hype.
ARREST SET COURSE FOR PROTESTS IN CITY by amy zimmer / metro new york AUG 29, 2008
Friday nightâ€™s Critical Mass marks a seminal event in the rideâ€™s history: Four years ago the police arrested more than 250 people during the monthly ride that attracted thousands during the Republic National Convention. The ride â€” which has been a New York City fixture since 1993 â€” had a party-like vibe prior to August 2004. Critical Mass regulars believe the police tactics they saw during the RNC has not relented since.
â€œPeople are still concerned that the NYPD is using excessive force and harassment,â€ said Barbara Ross, who was arrested during the convention.
The RNC experience was a â€œturning pointâ€ for Ross, a volunteer for Times Up! â€” the environmental group that promotes Critical Mass. â€œI had never been involved in fighting for First Amendment issues.â€
While some, like Ross, became more politically active, others just left town.
â€œI know people who left New York â€¦ some people didnâ€™t feel safe around the cops anymore,” said Mark Taylor, who had just started law school when he was arrested during the RNC while riding as a legal observer. â€œIt was a dramatic thing to see mass arrests and be caught up in it and see how arbitrary it was.â€
He now works on cases defending Critical Mass riders, including Christopher Long, who was filmed being knocked off his bike by a cop during last monthâ€™s Critical Mass.
â€œThereâ€™s more public awareness of what the police department is up to and more recognition of a lack of oversight,â€ Taylor said. â€œBut I donâ€™t think the police feel any more restrained.â€
â€œI think Summer Streets was an important lesson for the city,â€ Ross said. â€œIf the NYPD works with the cyclists like before the RNC, Iâ€™m convinced the ride will grow again with families, older cyclists and a more diverse ride.â€
Time’s Up released this press release about tonight’s ride:
(Happy Now Barbara) CYCLISTS WILL RIDE PEACEFULLY TOGETHER FOR SAFETY ON FRIDAYâ€™S CRITICAL MASS
Critical Mass gains support from the community after release of videos showing NYPDâ€™s harassment of the ride since the 2004 Republic National Convention
WHAT: Critical Mass Ride WHEN: Friday, August 29, 2008 at 7:00 PM WHERE: Union Square Park North at 17th Street **Ride participants & supporters will be available for comments before the ride begins.
New York, NY (August 29, 2008) â€“ Friday night, cyclists will gather at 7:00 PM in Union Square North for the Critical Mass monthly group ride. Supporters of the ride will be there to send off cyclists who have continued hitting the car-clogged streets, despite 4 years of harassment from the NYPD since the 2004 Republican National Convention. Outrage from the community has been growing since a bystanderâ€™s video was released by Timeâ€™s Up! and the Glass Bead Collective showing Officer Patrick Pogan body slamming Christopher Long off his bicycle while riding on the July 2008 Critical Mass. Members of the City Council have also joined the chorus of indignation, calling for the Manhattan District Attorney to investigate the NYPDâ€™s policies toward Critical Mass rides.
“Under the management of Mayor Bloomberg, the NYPD has waged an expensive, unnecessary and dangerous campaign against group bicycle rides and non-polluting transportation since 2004. Timeâ€™s Up! and the cycling community are confident that public pressure will convince the NYPD to return to the more sensible police tactics used prior to the Republican National Convention,” says Barbara Ross, a regular Critical Mass participant and volunteer with Time’s Up! Environmental Group.
Video of Christopher Long body slammed by NYPD on July 2008 Critical Mass ride in Timeâ€™s Square: Youtube
City Council Memberâ€™s letter to the Manhattan DA calling for an investigation into the NYPDâ€™s policies toward Critical Mass: http://www.times-up.org/uploads/pdf/Letter_to_DA.pdf
Timeâ€™s Up! letter to the editor published in New York Times replying to Raymond Kellyâ€™s comments on Critical Mass: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/13/opinion/lweb13bikes.html?ref=opinion
Critical Mass is a monthly celebration of non-polluting transportation, which takes place in hundreds of cities around the world. Critical Mass and other group rides have contributed to the increase in cycling and safer streets.
Support US-held Political Prisoners and Prisoners-of-War, as well as collective cycling empowerment, at ROLLING DOWN THE WALLS, a 5-mile bike ride to benefit the ABCF Warchest and the Freegan Bike Workshop!
Join in the community effort to support and raise awareness of those who have been targeted and punished for their political actions and beliefs. Bring your wallet and checkbook and get ready to ride!
Join us at 123 Community Space at 6 pm (or just meet us at St. Marks Church at 8 pm for the after-party). The ROLLING DOWN THE WALLS ride will begin at 6:30 as we set off into the sunset, across the Williamsburg bridge and arrive at St. Marks Church for refreshments at the Anarchist Salon, a new anarchist event now running every Sunday. Get your picture taken at the top of the bridge with your bike, your friend, your crush, or your friend’s bike. Send a copy to your Political Prisoner penpal(s)!
Founded in 1994, the Warchest Program has provided consistent and reliable financial aid to Political Prisoners and Prisoners-of-War held within the US prison system who receive little or no other financial aid. Since its creation, it has raised over $50,000 for these prisoners and will continue in these efforts.
The Freegan Bike Workshop shares skills with children and adults so that they can turn found bike parts into working bicycles. Workshops are Wed. from 6-9pm, and Sat. 2-7pm at the 123 Community Space.
Both NYC Anarchist Black Cross Federation and the Freegan Bike Workshop are member organizations of the 123 Community Space. Take the opportunity to come out and see what all the fuss is about at 123! Then ride for freedom and cross the bridge to the Anarchist Salon.
“Critical Mass in Denver during the Democratic National Convention. It was awesome. Probably at least 600 riders. At first the cops were escorting us, and were allowing us to go through red lights, but at the end, they said we were impeding traffic, so they sent out the riot police. People started getting arrested, and getting tickets. More Bikes, Less Oil! “
The Republican National Convention hasn’t even started yet in Minneapolis, but the police are all ready cracking down.
Three members of NYC’s Glass Bead Collective got the shake down in true fascist style.
Local protesters stifled Group hassled by Minnesota cops in advance of GOP convention by amy zimmer / metro new york
AUG 27, 2008
Just after a group of New Yorkers were released by Chinese authorities, other locals were detained by authorities in a different setting: Three members of the Glass Bead Collective were in Minneapolis prepping a few days before filming protests during the Republican National Convention.
After being held early yesterday morning for an hour, their camera equipment, computers, notes and even someoneâ€™s backpack of clothes were seized, according to Vladimir Teichberg. His video group helped air the YouTube clip of a Critical Mass bicyclist last month getting shoved off his bike by a cop.
“They took our tools of the trade.” Teichberg said by phone from Minneapolis, where he has been since Thursday to â€œget a feelâ€ for the city and meet with groups planning actions. â€œWeâ€™re interested in people coming to protest, â€¦ what theyâ€™re trying to say and how theyâ€™re trying to say it, and to what extent they will be allowed to say it.â€
According to a Minneapolis Police Department report, the trio trespassed and committed a â€œhomeland security offense.â€ They were observed walking out of a railroad yard, the report states.
But Teichberg said he, Olivia Katz and Anita Brathwaite had come off a bus around 2 a.m. when cop cars surrounded them.
â€œAt first they told us they were looking for people breaking into cars,â€ Teichberg said. â€œThey started searching us. â€¦ They questioned us: Why are we here, what is our allegiance, who do we support for president?â€ â€¦ I said, This is crazy, like â€˜1984.â€™â€
Article in the NY times about the new bike lanes on Broadway in Midtown. Ok, I messed with this photo a bit. I love the motorcycle riding in the bike lane.
Front-Row Seats on Broadway, if You Dare By WILLIAM NEUMAN Published: August 25, 2008
As if New York wasnâ€™t stimulating enough already, the city has provided a new kind of thrill right in the heart of Midtown: an esplanade carved into Broadway where people can sit and relax as cars and trucks whiz by.
And while the esplanade seems to have become an instant hit with office workers and tourists â€” the metal benches, tables and chairs (some under red umbrellas) were rarely empty on Monday morning, even though they have been out for only a few days â€” many eyed the traffic warily.
Last night, Rage Against the Machine played a free concert and there was a Critical Mass:
From the Denver Post:
Denver reaches “Critical Mass” By Carlos Illescas and Greg Mellen
Some 200 bicyclists met at Civic Center tonight, circled the park then headed west on 15th Street to an unknown destination as part of the “Critical Mass” bicycling event.
The event, which is held in cities nationwide, is typically on the last Friday of every month. But with the Democratic National Convention in town, bicyclists decided to hit the road Wednesday to draw attention to the relationship between bicyclists and motorists.