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Ah, exciting times…Bike Month is just around the corner!

First off, On Sunday, I saw this bike in Park Slope on 5th Ave. Who’s bike is that? Seriously tall, nice work.

Ok, May is almost here and that means:

Lots of great bike events including this thing called Critical Mass, that the D.O.T. seems to sponsor, because once again its in the Bike Month Calender.

So this month when you’re on critical mass and the scooter cop is giving you a hassle about needing permits, just quote them this blurb from the bike month website:

“Bike Month celebrates the fun, convenience and ease of cycling in NYC. Cycling is good for you, good for the environment and good for New York City. Whether you are one of the city’s 120,000 everyday cyclists, a weekend cyclist or just thinking about bicycling to work, Bike Month has an event for you.”

All kidding aside, lets really try and make the MAY “Bike-Month” Critical Mass a Big one!

So I have some good news and some bad news…The good news is that it looks like a city in America is going to kick off a bike sharing program starting in May. (did I mention that was bike month) Washington DC is the spot and you can read about it here in this NY times article which came out in Sunday’s paper, written by Bernie Becker.

Photo by Ed Alcock for the New York Times.

The bad news is, much like the very successful bike sharing program in France, which the DC one is modeled after…someone has to pay for this and that generally means through advertising of a major corporation.

The even worse news is in DC, its sponsored by: Clear Channel, who monopolizes our airwaves with watered down top 40 and supports Right-Wing politicians…Oh yeah and they banned the Dixie Chicks when they spoke out against the war. But somehow they like bicycles…or is it money! Clear Channel, just so happens to own 90% of our outdoor advertising. Hopefully you see where I am going with this. Here is a simple equasion. They like A and they control what you see…they don’t like B, therefore you don’t see B.

Why can’t this be sponsored by the city who believes in something like this: Cycling is good for you, good for the environment and good for “Fill-in-the-Blank” City.

Here is a blog that has been doing a lot of work covering Bike sharing around the world and what is starting to happen here in America.

bikesharing.blogspot.com

Kirk Dungan…Anchorage bike messenger.


and the only bike messenger. Check out this video of three bikers in Alaska.

Part of a History Channel series…”Tougher in Alaska”. Damn straight.

Great video of the April Critical Mass 2008

Made by Chris Ryan.

Couple of ways to recycle.

Now the last thing you need is another person telling you how you can make a difference in making the planet more “Green.” How to properly recycle in the work place while the janitor dumps all the white paper into the regular trash thus rendering the giant corporation you work for exempt from having to make a difference and you feeling guilty and thinking…”why bother.” Why should I swap all the light bulbs in my house when I just bought them at Walmart and all their 10 gazillion stores are using millions of energy wasting fluorescents fixtures?

I guess we all have to figure out how to make a difference in our own way. Here are a few ways of helping out locally and perhaps ways of recycling you hadn’t heard of.

This weekend and Monday, Everyone’s favorite mac store, Tekserve along with the Lower East Side Ecology Center, is offering free electronic recycling. Bring down your old hard drives, DVD players, monitors, etc. to there store at 119 West 23rd street. Sunday, April 27th from 10am through 4pm and Monday, April 28th from 4pm to 7pm. Win a chance for a free Ipod and Mac computer and rid of your old gear the ecco-friendly way.

3rliving, cool ecco-products store has unique recycle year round. This funky store in Park Slope (276L 5th Ave) will gladly take your used CD’s, DVDS, Cell phone parts and even batteries.

Blessing of the Bikes 08

Ah yes…it must be close to May, because its time for the 10th annual, Blessing of the Bicycles.”
I’ve never understood this event but I feel obliged to mention it mainly because it kicks off the, “Bike Riding Season,” what ever that means.
Photo by: A. Courtney

Every year, hundreds of cyclists file into the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and have a Reverend say a few words and sprinkle them with holy water. Somehow this is to protect them from dangers of the open road as the warm weather brings more of us bikers out to the streets…and they say critical mass makes us look silly?

Maybe they should just call it the Blessing of the Helmets or the Blessing of creating more bike lanes. Maybe, a prayer that some day our confused administration will realize what an efficient, healthy and environmentally sustainable mode of transportation the bicycle really is. This event is immediatly followed by the more fire and brimstone version of the:

Burning of the CAR.

actually thats a photo from I dream Awake, of a vehicle that didn’t get enough holy water as it burned up on the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Here is a story on the blessing of the bikes on NY1.

How ever you are blessed…Ride Safe.

Critical Mass is BACK in NYC


original picture by: Jeff Daniel
Was I in some sort of time warp? Propelled back to 2001 when this free wheeling bike ride of fun rode through my beloved city on the last Friday of each month? The April Critical Mass ride, who’s attendance had been dwindled to a few brave souls…was back with new exuberant youthful energy reminding me of a time of (not too) long ago. Despite four years of police harassment, this months ride was really fun and amazing.

I was hard pressed to leave the excitement and comfort of Chris Ryan’s apartment, sprawled out on his couch watching game 1 of the New York Rangers NHL playoff game against Pittsburgh. Chris was busy coordinating some flyer drop off for his band, Team Spider and making last minute preparations to avoid tickets by jerry rigging flashlights to his bicycle. I especially like the laser pointer in back to act as the red light and have the potential of blinding people.

About 7:30pm we made it out of the comforts of the cable tv and headed over to Union Square to see how many people, if any, would be at Critical Mass. The weather has been beautiful and this was another warm spring night. Tourists were out attending theatre, people were everywhere and traffic was getting jammed up around 17th and Union Square East.

The big question was, how would the cops be reacting tonight with so many of their rank and file on HIGH alert from the Sean Bell verdict. Just in case the people get all uppity due to, once again, no repercussions for police going on a shooting spree and taking innocent life. I love the automatic assumption that an acquittal charge of cops could lead to massive rioting and thus a need for tightened police presence, just like a peaceful bike ride every month brings out helicopters and arrest vans. Lets also not forget its operation TORCH
Bringing a special unit of police with machine guns and bomb sniffing dogs to the subways and streets. Hmmm, Sean Bell verdict, operation Torch…a coincidence?

Rolling into whats left of Union Square North, it was clear that we had our usual welcoming committee of police scooters and arrest vehicles lined up in the park and up Broadway. There was a healthy crowd of just over one hundred riders gathered just west of the new construction. People were handing out flyers for art shows, political rallys and one of my favorite new offenses…The NYPD trying to require permits for Environmental studies and air monitoring. Why would we have any reason to doubt the government when it comes to our environment? HMMMMMMMMMM…can you say 9/11.
Check out new intro 650.

After saying hi to old friends it was nearing 8:00pm and time for the ride to begin.
We headed over to the West Side Highway. This mass had lots of new faces, young kids who were riding fast and full of excitement. Some of the veterans of past rides worked with them to slow down, keep the ride together, help hold intersections and work as a collective. We heard this Samba band practice on the East side of the West side highway and reconvened our group, stopping to listen to the loud beats of multiple drums. Then the ride headed up 10th Ave and worked its way East. There was no attempt at stopping for red lights, a cautionary measure from rides past in order to avoid ticketing from police, but this ride was different. There were no cops.

We snaked our way up 6th Ave to 59th Street and then headed West to Columbus Circle. Made a few circles and then headed down Broadway to Times Square. It was like the good ol days. People cheering, chanting…”who’s streets.” Although this time it felt a little different. No matter where we went, uptown, midtown, downtown…people on the sidelines were cheering, clapping, smiling. Almost as if they supported us, that somehow they know the struggle this event has been going through. Maybe they just saw the sight of 100 bikes riding together was empowering and reminded them of all this “Green Chic”…”What-you-can-do-for-the-environmentalism” buzz thats going around. Who knows, but people were supportive and the ride was really fun.

We ended up in the West Village at a fund-raiser for Time’s Up with the Rude Mechanical Orchestra and a giant trampoline at the HUB station bike shop.

Perhaps this is new beginnings for the ongoing story of Critical Mass in NYC. Maybe the police will be back next month with their same old tricks and tactics.

More people should really come out to the next ride. The weather will be warmer and after all MAY is BIKE MONTH.
I hope more people start coming to the ride but for now…WE’RE BACK!!!!
More photos from Jeff Daniel-
Heading down Broadway

Impromptu bike lift


Youthful energy.

Don’t Forget…Fundraiser for Time’s Up

Critical Mass Tomorrow. Meet 7pm at Union Square North (whats left of it)
Then
Party at the new Time’s Up Space:
the Hub Station-
73 Morton St. West Village, Manhattan

Dance party with the Rude Mechanical Orchestra & DJ Suggested D, an olympic-size trampoline, Hot Seat photo gallery and video projection by Velchrome.

11pm to 12:30am the Traffic Jam tap dancers will perform with the Boom Boom Brooks Trio plus a Bicycle Fashion Show – be in it!

Fundraiser for Time’s Up! and Hub Station. Sliding scale starting at $10. If you can’t make the party you can donate online. Valet parking available and plenty of food to snack on.

There will also be photos on display at the Hub Station/Time’s Up fundraiser party.

Portraits of Fabulous Female Pedicab Drivers

Melissa von Ludwig, pedicab driver and artist, debuts her photographs of the pedicab calendar girls. “Driving a pedicab made me a stronger person, not just physically but mentally too” said von Ludwig. Starting in 2005, von Ludwig documented her adventures both on and off the streets. Her chronicle, HOT SEAT, celebrates courageous women “hauling ass” in New York City traffic.

What’s going on with Union Square North?


Is this the next Guantanamo? …To hold and interrogate radical bike activists and subject them to loud Brittany Spears songs?

Nope, its your friendly neighborhood constructions or should we say disruption.
Gothamist has a story on local neighborhood activists banning together to halt construction of a private restaurant and park plans.

Friday-APRIL 25th, Arbor Day, there will be a rally in Union Square to Protest the construction from 6-8pm RIGHT WHEN CRITICAL MASS STARTS.

Here is more info on that rally.

Then

Sunday, April 27th…Reverend Billy will be leading a Rally against Privatizing our Parks.

Here is a letter from the Rev:

PUBLICIZING THE PRIVATIZING
The Parks Are For All The People!

Dear Lovers of Union Square Park and Freedom in Our City,

By now some of you may have heard of impending changes on the north side of Union Square Park. This effort by the Local Business Improvement District was sold to the people as a desperately needed “refurbishment” of the Playgrounds and Green Market but it’s little more than a land grab. Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates says, “The city is taking away thousands of square feet of potential play space in an area with the lowest amount of play space in the city and one of the highest concentration of restaurants.”

Society chef Danny Myer is the chairman of the Union Square Partnership and the future proprietor and profiteer of the fancy cafe planned for the pavilion. It’s construction will include tearing down 14 trees. Construction began two weeks ago but was halted by a judge today !!

THIS is our chance to save Union Square. On SUNDAY APRIL 27th at 3 pm we are having a rally to HALT the privatization of our BELOVED park.

Meet at the North End of Union Square. Check “http://www.REVBILLY.com”> Rev billy.com for details. PLEASE get involved, spread the word, be creative, CONTACT US.

The
Ny Times article on the Halting of construction.

Thanks to Gothamist and BikeSnob

Well according to the comments I got on Gothamist, you’d be hard pressed to believe you were reading the work of the biggest sucker on the planet. I had to share my experience with the online community in the hopes of people looking for my bike and possibly getting it back, despite the scathing comments I knew I would be subjected to. I’m not looking for any sympathy here. Yes, it was a very embarrassing experience, but you learn from it. Perhaps if I had read about a scam like this on someone else’s blog, I would never have given up my bike the way I did. Especially when I found out from other people that this same thing had happened to them…in the same part of town. I’m not going to live my life as an paranoid recluse never trusting humanity again. Live and learn. Perhaps more people can share their bike theft stories and we can begin to look out for one another and not just look the other way when that person is cutting a bike lock with a hack saw. It takes the better man to admit when you’ve been had, and the cowards who make anonymous comments are not contributing to anything. I hope they never need help in a situation or become the unfortunate victim of a crime.

Big shout out to BikeSnob. He really made an excellent post and had some really good advice about dealing with bike theft. Thanks to him and Gothamist for helping out.

A few people wanted to know about my renters insurance. I’ve had State Farm for years. You pay $270 for the year and it covers theft and fire. It also covers property loss even if its outside of your home. You pay a $500.00 deductible, so the value of the loss has to somewhat worth it. You call the insurance company and explain what happened, then a separate insurance agent gets assigned to your case. in which you list the value of the property lost and provide them with as much accurate records as you can. They did not ask for the police report in my situation, but I’m sure that is case specific.

Thanks for all the responses

Thanks everyone. I stayed up late last night scouring the neighborhood for green areospoke wheels. I called my renters insurance and could make a claim for a $500.00 deductable. I’ll be on the hunt for a new green bicycle.

More importantly then my own stupidity I wanted to announce that there will be a memorial ride for two cyclists who were killed last week in Manhattan.

Here are the details:

Memorial Ride–TODAY, April 23rd. Start at Union Square South 7pm

Memorial Ride for Alvaro Olson and Jian-Lan Zhang
both killed on April 16, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Union Square South, 7 pm

Alvaro Olson, 54
West 36th Street and Broadway

Jian-Lan Zhang, 55
Allen Street and Hester Street

Visit: Ghostbikes.org

Here is article about Jian Lan Zhang from the NY METRO

This article from the Daily News, on Alvaro Olson, leaves lots in question and illustrates the need for these accidents to be properly investigated.