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Al Sharpton comes to Critical Mass

Well the rumors were true, controversial leader Al Sharpton came to speak to the crowd of bikers at Critical Mass and then got on a bike and rode.

No one was sure if this was actually going to happen but standing on the steps of Union Square South it was clear people had already divided into two schools of thought, which is no surprise when the Reverend Al Sharpton is involved.

Some people had affixed this sign to their bags which made it clear how they felt. The other side of it was those who struggle to build coalitions and have critical mass be a more diverse crowd, something that constantly plagues leftist movements. It seemed like an ideal situation, to have the Reverend come to Union Square and speak about the same issues of police harassment that affect the black community, which the critical mass ride has been experiencing for more than four years. (not to downplay that for the black community this means constant stops and frisks and in extreme cases, murder.)

But before Rev. Al could even get to the podium, a group of about 40 bikers gave the call to ride and took off West on 14th Street. Its bad enough that the cops divide us, but when we do it to ourselves, it only plays into their hands. Despite what an individual feel about the granstanding tactics of Al Sharpton, we owed it to him to speak and to try and keep the ridership of critical mass together…Thus creating a MASS. This is a truly reflective of the harassment campaign the NYPD has been so effective at, dividing the ridership and scaring people off from even attending critical mass.

Here is a bit of Al’s speech on the steps of Union Square South, from Gothamists own Jen Chung

The Reverend Al Sharpton Joins Critical Mass from jenchung on Vimeo.

Part of the problem was the PR war the ride is constantly fighting. This press release was sent out a few day before critical mass.

“The Rev. Al Sharpton has enlisted the help of hundreds of bicyclists to stage a traffic “slowdown” tomorrow — around the time many New Yorkers are heading home for the weekend — to protest the Sean Bell trial verdict.”

With news like this, there was no wonder there was confusion and those who want to protect the nature of critical mass, felt it was being hijacked. Thats what critical mass is all about, different agendas, different tactics…anyone can lead it, speak about it direct it and scream…”We are all Sean Bell” at the top of their lungs. The ride must learn to work with whatever and whoever is there.
Part of the division lies in the fact that critical mass has had to define itself in an environment of constant police scrutiny. They’ve been fighting a PR war for many years trying to convince people that the goal of critical mass is not to go out and block traffic but rather to keep the flow of the ride going and thus…become traffic. This has brought up the issues of weather the ride should stop at red lights or not…its an ongoing battle.

Meanwhile two groups of around 40 bikers were circling around the Union Square area while Al Sharpton was speaking to a larger crowd of about 150-200 bike riders. These groups were getting broken up by cops and many were pulled over and ticketed for vague traffic violations.

Chris Ryan was able to put together this video of Al and the ride.

I’m not sure how this will all affect the ride in the future. My hope is that people continue to come out and keep up the pressure. Maybe we can learn a lesson here that patients is a virtue, that people should stick together and ride together.

Bike Blog making changes.

I’ve made some changes to Bike Blog so I apologize for being under construction right now. I am in the midst of experimenting with some new functionality with bike blog. I’d like to make it more of a site people can go to regularly with such features as, classifieds and a possible daily road report to alert people of changes in NYC road conditions. Just some ideas I’ve been kicking around.

So in the meantime, I managed to change the template and loose a bunch of information I had already started. Perhaps its time to switch over to wordpress.

I am constantly looking for help with this blog and technical expertise on webdesign, css and html. I am still quite a novice at all of this, so if web savvy people want to give me a shout, please let me know your out there.

I would love to discuss some ideas I have about taking this blog to the next level.

Tomorrow, Bike Ride for peace.

Saturday, May 31st, 2008.
Pedal for Peace
a fundraiser for NYC united for peace and justice

Be a part of the cycle at peace with an afternoon bike ride!
Bring the whole family, Children under 18, ride free)

starts 11:00am, registration begins at 10:00

Start location is Central Park (enter at 110th and Adam Clayton Powell)

Family Friendly 15 mile route.

call (212) 868-5545 for more information.

Congratulations to Jamie Favaro

Time’s Up volunteer and avid bike rider Jamie Favaro helped prove once again that the bicycle is the fastest way around town in Thursday’s Commuter Race. Transportation Alternatives held its annual event which pits together a subway, a car and a biker to find out which can get through town the fastest.

Elizabeth Press from Streetfilms was on hand and filed this video report.

Bikesnobnyc had a hilarious take on this race and decided to “unofficially” compete himself.

Here is an interview with the Jamie the winner, and he wants you all to know…this is a real interview.

There was also an article in today’s Metro.

Whats going on with Union Square.

Picture by Jefferson Siegel of the Villager

The villager had an article, about Reverend Billy and his new crusade to Save Union Square from developers.

from the article:
Performance preacher calls pavilion sacred space

By Jefferson Siegel

Last Wednesday, the anti-consumer activist Reverend Billy held the first of many promised “First Amend-a-thons” to protest what he branded the privatization of Union Square Park.

At recent Critical Mass rides, Reverend Billy, real name Bill Talen, joined cyclists before the rides to criticize plans to install a private, seasonal-concession restaurant in the pavilion at the north end of Union Square Park. Now that construction has begun and the north plaza has been fenced off, Billy and a group of followers descended on the plaza on Wednesday afternoon May 21 to recite the First Amendment and call for a halt to the construction.”

There will be a rally June 5th.

Denizens of New York,

WHAT: Festive Assembly to Push Back the Privatizers and Save Union Square!
WHEN: June 5th at 5:00pm
WHERE: Northwest Corner of Union Square Park

Bloomberg and his cronies have a vision of New York City where parks
are for-profit, people are squeezed out of public spaces, and free
assembly is made nearly impossible. Their plans to privatize Union
Square Park were “approved” through a rigged process that steamrolled
widespread opposition, and then hastily implemented in order to foster
a sense of inevitability and despair. But the privatizers have
over-reached! They tried to sidestep the law, but a judge stepped in
and said “Wait a Second!” The plans are currently on hold, and the
future is uncertain. Now it is OUR time to blow the lid off this scam

On June 5th, at 5:00pm, the Union Square Partnership (the schemers
behind the scam) will hold their annual back-slapping,
self-congratulation dinner, just a block or two off the park. We will
gather at the Northwest corner for a raucous rally and celebration of
Free People Freely Assembled in Public Space! Expect marching bands,
a “Heroes of Union Square Walking Tour,” community visioning
sessions, and soapbox preaching. Expect surprises and spectacles and
a glimpse of what the city CAN be! Come out and meet your neighbors in
the square and defend the public’s right to public space!

To find out more, and see what more you can do visit
Save Union Square

New flyer for Peel Sessions…Friday…after Critical Mass

with Al Sharpton…critical mass that is.

Macaframa in Seattle.

MACASEATTLE from Jason Yim on Vimeo.

Al Sharpton comes to Critical Mass.

For all those people who were bitching about why the critical mass didn’t come support the Sean Bell verdict protests…well, Al Sharpton is coming to us.

Enough of this Us and Them.

Check out On NY has more details. Now get on your bike and come support Critical Mass.

So hot.

Choppercabras Bike Battle from rossangeles on Vimeo.

Films to promote at this years Bicycle Film Festival

This year I didn’t make a film but rather I’m in one. Remember those Orange bikes DKNY put up all over the city?

Orange Bikes Take Manhattan – Bicycle Film Festival 2008
By Kalim Armstrong.
Friday May 30th – 7pm, 9:15pm and 11:15pm (same program is repeated)
32 2nd Ave. at 2nd St.
From the film maker:

“I short I made is screening on Friday in the Bicycle Film Festival. Orange bikes documents the reaction to a guerrilla marketing campaign during fashion week. Orange monochromatic bicycles appeared chained as part of DKNY’s “Explore your city” campaign. The bikes were reminiscent of the Ghost Bike memorial project, white painted bikes that serve as markers where cyclists have died in traffic accidents. This film explores the backlash to the marketing campaign.

Kalim will be on hand for the 7:00pm showing.

Here is the trailer:

ORANGE BIKES TAKE MANHATTAN from Kalim Armstrong on Vimeo.

Also, on Saturday (messenger night) May 31st.
Anthology Film Archives (all films at the Anthology)

7,9:15pm and 11:15pm

Get Faster
9 minutes. Directed by Heather Muller (with camera work by Chris Ryan/Teamspider)

To help her win this years Monstertrack, Dylan looks to three local alleycat racers for advice.


Photo by Ed Glazar:


27minutes Directed by David Rowe

Documents the rise of the profile track bike scene in Seattle. Started by clothing designer and fixed-gear rider Dustin Klein (M.A.S.H.) the monthly bike event known as “Fast Friday” has grown into a showcase of today’s most talented riders.

Trailer available on the Fast Friday website.