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Villager Article on March Critical Mass

Jefferson Siegel reports on last month’s critical mass in the latest villager newspaper. Here is a more detailed report at what went on at this pivotal critical mass ride.

villager article

Critical Mass videos-good enough for NPR crowd

Brian Lehrer, you know the voice. He informs you with indepth opinions and local guests speaking about NY issues on wnyc everyday. He has a blog where you can see Brian and listen to more opinions about the issues effecting New Yorkers everyday. On his Blog Brian has internet video picks of the week where he combines a lot of websurfing into one program, on the blog.

Number 1 this week? Critical Mass…love the attention!

Pictures from Slaughtertrauma–Richmond VA


Cutthroats know how to Kick Ass on bikes…here is some photos from Flickr about last weekends mutant bike fest in Richmond Virgina.
Picture links:
Lasertotheface
Chummy berry
Turner Gensum

Don’t you wish you went? I do.

Video’s 2 and 3 from Chris Ryan

Chris Ryan completed 2 more videos in continuation of last month’s Critical Mass…
Part 2

Part 3

Chris Ryan made a video

This is Chris Ryan’s video of critical mass, 3/30/07. It is Part one of his MNN television program…Team Spider Television, which will air on Wednesday. (I think)

NYTimes reports on last nights Critical Mass–NYC

Three Arrested in Critical Mass Bike Ride

By THE NEW YORK TIMES
Published: March 31, 2007
Three people were arrested and almost 50 people given summonses last night in the first Critical Mass bicycle ride since the city adopted new controversial rules that limit the size of un-permitted rides, the police said.

Of the three people arrested, one was charged for disorderly conduct, one was charged with obstructing government administration and charges against a third person charge had yet to be determined last night, the police said.

Arrests from past monthly Critical Mass rides have numbered in the dozens.

The New York Police Department adopted the rules earlier this year that require parade permits for bicyclists and others who take to the streets in groups of 50 or more for processions, races and protests.

Meanwhile in LONDON…

At the start of last night’s ride Des Kay, who originally took the Met police to court, reported on the progress of their appeal. He said it is not looking good as the police are using a high powered lawyer. The police want the ride to be treated as a regular public protest with a fixed route and organisers. Of course, cyclists are not going to stand for this and Des asked for discussions on possible strategies in the event of the appeal succeeding. The result of the appeal could be soon or take several weeks more.

Police are still warning riders with sound systems not to play them within the SOCPA zone and are asking for their names and addresses but take no action when this request is refused. They also video the sound system people.

Victory for cyclists, they ride, they get split up, they ride, the get tackled, they ride…they ride!

Ok, I am in Boston on a job and I just checked in with NYC to see how their critical mass ride went. Its’ been a dramatic week of tensions and tonight was the first NYC critical mass with new police rules in full effect. To review…The cops hate bikes and the dirty anarchists that ride them, even though critical mass is made up all kinds of people…most who shower on a regular basis. But what smelled tonight was a bogus tactic of the police to change the definition of what a parade is to help define a monthy event that has been happening around the planet since 1992. After 2 years of battling the cycling community, the NYPD thought they found their magic formula, but alas, they suck and came at it with the same ol tactics. Tonight the cycling community invited all of the major press to union square to hear about what is really going on with this stale attack of our rights of free assembly, and you know what…a lot of the press showed up, with their big expensive video cameras and they heard from city council member Rosie Menedez of Manhattan’s district two, Norman Siegel, famous civil rights attorney who reported on how the big bad city of NYC lost to 4 people named in an ridiculous lawsuit trying to claim that these 4 are single handedly responsible for a bike ride that has no leaders. The city dropped the lawsuit this week and the 5 borough bike club is suing the City for the parade definitions which also effect clean smelling spandex clad taxpaying biker riders who think the city is also full of shit. This club of cyclists also spoke at the rally in Union Square, before tonights ride and showed solidarity with those people with common sense. Power to the People. Also the pedicabs spoke and drew even more connections to the need for alternative transportation not to be harassed by our civil servants (NYPD) who are supposed to protect and serve, not arrest and ticket.

So about 100 riders left the rally at Union Square which had another 100 or so supporters who came to listen to the speakers and not ride.

Right at the start the cops began to single people out and write summons to people who did not have a bell or a light or some other law on the books that is enforced about as frequent as someone driving on a cell phone.

The press swarmed in since it was right at the North end of Union Square and Park Ave. South and all the press was there to video tape the ride and put it on the 11:00 news.

The cops backed off a bit and made one arrest, just to save face and make the cyclists look confrontational.

The ride headed up Park Ave South and was getting swarmed by scooter cops and a few 15 pass vans. Still the mode was to stop people for not having warning devises and lights and soon helmets now that the city council also approved a helmet law for employees of a company using workers on bikes.

This split up the ride and two groups formed…of about 50…or was it 49, the legal limit of cyclists to be riding together. The number 50 has been proved by Aramaic scholars to be the 2nd series of numbers besides the triple 6 to symbolize the apocalypse…thus casting all of NYC into eternal darkness for at least a week.

a group meet up at Colombus circle, including Rosie Menedez of distric who stayed in a pedi-cab the whole ride to witness the abuse.

Much more happened…but I don’t want to give a way the whole story.

The good news is…there was little domestic spying (cops video taping us, infiltrating, and general cointelpro), Major press showed up for the start of the ride, a city council member stayed with the whole ride in a pedicab, and despite all the drama…100 brave people came out to ride, be free and feel alive in a world run by insane morons.

Come to Critical Mass Early…for a press conference

Please come to Union Square North tonight around 6:45pm for a press conference of Critical Mass, even if you don’t want to ride…come and support.

Here is an article in AMNY

Critical Mass to be tested under new NYPD rules
By Justin Rocket Silverman, amNewYork Staff Writer
jsilverman@am-ny.com

March 29, 2007
Participants in Friday’s Critical Mass bicycle ride are bracing for mass arrests if police enforce new regulations requiring a permit for rides of more than 50 cyclists.

The monthly gatherings routinely draw hundreds of riders, and Friday’s will be the first under the new rules.

“I’m afraid we are going to see a return to the police actions of 2004 and 2005,” said Marilyn Horan, who has been participating in Critical Mass rides for a decade. “Police could once again block off streets at both ends, corral and arrest cyclists.”

The NYPD instituted the controversial regulations last month without City Council oversight. They define any group of 50 or more cyclists, pedestrians or other vehicles as a “parade” that must apply for a permit.

Critical Mass participants say the rules are designed to crack down on their event. They also say the group has no central organization, and thus no responsible person to apply for the permit.

Councilwoman Rosie Mendez (D-Manhattan) said she would ride along in a pedicab tonight, both as an observer and to protest the rules.

“To criminalize the behavior of individuals assembling in groups over 50 is arbitrary and unconstitutional,” she said.

NYPD chief spokesman Paul Browne defended the new regulations.

“Persons who break the law, whether individually or in groups, remain subject to summons or arrest. A parade permit gives groups the ability to engage in conduct that would otherwise be illegal, whether it’s groups on foot marching up Fifth Avenue on St Patrick’s Day or cyclists running lights togther,” he said.

In a related matter, The Five Borough Bicycle Club sued the NYPD in federal court this week to block the regulations. The bike club says the new rules could effectively shut down its city tours and other organized group rides.

“We’ve been doing these rides for decades and they are perfectly safe, but now we need a permit for them to be legal,” said Ed DeFreitas, president of the bike club. “Our insurance only protects us if we don’t break the law.”

DeFreitas said applying for a parade permit was complicated and time consuming, and that police officers themselves seemed unaware of the regulations. A federal judge heard arguments in the bicycle club’s suit Thursday, and was expected to grant or deny an injunction in the next week.
———————————————-

This brings up the very definition of Critical Mass which often gets overlooked. I have tried to sum it up in a brief dialog of fictictious characters…based on real people…sort of…Here is a brief scene from Act One of my new play…To Critical Mass or Not to Critical Mass.

Anarchist Cyclist Hellbent on Anarchistic Cycling: “Hey, why don’t we just apply for a permit and make the city have to block traffic for us the last Friday of every month?”

Law abidding “Good Cyclist” Hellbent on Good Cycling: “But who is we? Who is going to apply for a permit? Are you going to go to the Police department and say, Hey I am organizing a critical mass bike ride and I need a permit to go from point A to point B.

Anarchist Cyclist Hellbent on Anarchistic Cycling: “Gee whiz, I never thought of that…Critical mass has no leadership…its just a phenomenum that has spread across the planet in over 300 cities around the world.”

Law abidding “Good Cyclist” Hellbent on Good Cycling: “That’s right. You see this is just the city trying to divide us and stop something which the do not have control over…Besides, even if you do apply for a permit the NYPD just stalls and waits and before you know it your event date has already passed. On top of that they come up with all kinds of excuses like, we don’t like that route…how bout you go from Union Square North to Union Square South? Isn’t that enough of a bike ride for you? Its all a big joke. I miss Smolka, I wish he didn’t retire, I wanted to watch him beat up legal observers, photographers and bad cyclists like you, with out spilling an ounce of his coffee.”

End of Act One.

Helmet laws? Put a bandaid on a flesh wound.

Ummm, I guess I’ve been asleep at the bicycle handlebars cause I just heard last night on the news that their is a new law in town requiring buisness who use bicycle delivery workers to give them helmets. Hmmmm? Here is the article in the NY Times…

By Ray Rivera

New York Times, March 29, 2007

Businesses that use bicycle delivery workers will have to give them
helmets, require that they wear them and ensure that the bikes are
safe, under legislation signed into law yesterday by Mayor Michael R.
Bloomberg.

The new laws, which will affect thousands of businesses in the city’s
thriving bicycle-messenger and food-delivery industries, were passed by
the City Council earlier this month with overwhelming support. They are
set to take effect on July 26.

Under one law, businesses must provide helmets, at the business owners’
expense, to employees who use bicycles as part of their work, and
require that workers wear them.

The bill also requires business owners to ensure that every bicycle
used by employees as part of their work, regardless of who owns it, is
equipped with safety devices required by state vehicle and traffic
laws, including reflective devices and properly working brakes.

The second law requires business owners to prominently display signs in
their businesses, where employees can see them, summarizing bicycle
safety laws and regulations. The signs must be in English, Spanish and
any other language predominantly spoken by a company’s delivery
employees.

“In addition to enhancing the safety of pedestrians traversing the
city’s streets, these bills will help protect our city’s hard-working
delivery personnel, many of whom are immigrants who speak a language
other than English,” Mayor Bloomberg said.

The city does not keep separate statistics on injuries and deaths
involving bicycle messengers and delivery workers. On average, there
are 23 bicycle fatalities in the city each year, and in 94 percent of
those cases, the rider was not wearing a helmet, according to a 2006
city report. Nearly three-quarters of the deaths were caused by head
injuries.

In September, Reginald Chan, the owner of Jade Mountain, a Chinese
restaurant in the East Village, died of head injuries he sustained when
he was struck by a truck while making a food delivery on a bicycle.
News reports at the time did not indicate whether he was wearing a
helmet, and Police Department records were not available yesterday.

David J. Louie, the chairman of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, began
pushing for the tougher safety standards for restaurant bicycle
delivery workers after a delivery woman was killed in a similar
accident in Chinatown in the summer of 2004. That year, Mr. Louie
approached City Councilman Alan Gerson, who introduced the helmet
legislation that fall. The bill moved slowly through the Council before
it was passed on March 14.

“I’m glad it was signed today,” Mr. Louie said. “But I wish it was
signed five months earlier. If the law was signed in August, maybe we
would have had one less fatality.” He was referring to Mr. Chan’s
death.

Mr. Gerson called the bicycle delivery workers “part of the commercial
fabric of our lives in New York City,” who deserve protection.

Louis Nunez, president of the Latino Restaurant Association, said his
members strongly supported the measure. The group represents some 2,800
restaurants in New York City, about 35 percent of which make
deliveries, Mr. Nunez said.

“We surveyed our members and they have all agreed it’s a good bill” and
are willing to pay for the helmets, he said.

The mayor also signed into law yesterday a bill strengthening
domestic-partner benefits for city workers. domestic partners employed
by the city already receive virtually every benefit that married
couples receive. The new law requires that any future benefits for
married couples also be provided to domestic partners.
—————————————————–

This will include bicycle messengers as well…Ok, here is my opinion. I think there is a thing called common sense, if you chose not to wear a helmet it is YOUR choice. All too often laws like this are selectively enforced so the city can find new ways to make money. As much as I think it is a good idea to wear a helmet when you ride a bicycle in NYC, it doesn’t need to be a law. This is one step closer to a citywide law for all cyclists to wear helmets, which is just what this city is hungry for in its war on intimidating bicyclists. Now, if this law is enforced to business, maybe it is a good thing, but I believe the common situation will be low wage workers working for food companies who are already habitually riding the wrong way down a one way street on a sidewalk (putting pedestrians in constant peril) will be stopped by low wage officers who now only make $25,000 a year and are looking to fill quotas in order for advancement. These workers will be too scared to blame their companies and end up having more tickets and violations against them. A plastic shelled piece of styrofoam may help in a little car crash, but will do nothing for the most common injury to food delivery people…Theft! I hear of court cases where juveniles are bored and want to look cool in front of their friends so they are jumping food service delivery people and beating them up. If Bloomberg is SO concerned about cyclists well being, why doesn’t he demand companies using bicycle couriers pay health insurance? In the case of bicycle messengers, they are often not supported by their companies and considered independent contractors…this gets messenger companies out of paying expensive health insurance to one of the most dangerous jobs in NYC. The helmet is like a false sense of security…its like saying to an employer…”Here, you must give them this piece of plastic to your employees and now we don’t have to deal with the REAL issues like how we are going to do nothing to make more room for cyclists…why should we, we gave them all helmets…bye.” I have to say I don’t like it. I believe in making incentives for business to protect their employees, but laws? When was this decided? What was the civic input or is this just like parade laws which our city government enacts while we are asleep.

Bloomberg once again has put a band-aid on a gapping laceration to the lower abdomen. See you at Critical Mass tonight when our mayors idea of helping cyclists will be to spend millions of dollars to spy on on and attack us…don’t forget your helmet.

Other events this weekend

Friday, March 30th, 2007 Critical Mass
NYC Union Square North 7:00pm


Friday, March 30th, 2007 Skidface
Under the BQE at Graham Ave. 8pm–Williamsburg Brooklyn.
This is a weekly Friday night event hosted by Trycycle and 4916
There will be different events to test out your track bike skills, with cash prizes.


This weekend…mutant bike fest in Richmond, Virgina.
The 30-31st of March marks the 4th annual Evil Fool’s Day Cycle
Slaughterama. You’d have thought this shit would be totally played out
by now, but you have absolutely no idea. Quit your job, sell blood for
a bus ticket, and come bro the fuck down.

Friday the 30th – Scavenger Hunt. 5pm Oregon Hill Parkway.
Teams of three or more, if you don’t have friends we’ll make you some.
This isn’t some pseudo messenger circle jerk. This is an open
invitation for any and everyone that likes to ride their bicycle and
do stupid shit. Guaranteed fun and prizes. The fastest may not win,
and only the tight shall endure the challenge!

Saturday is the day of many mutant bike events!!!

Sunday is Steve “Pop” Klein’s alleycat in NYC (see flyer below in recent posting)

The Hungry March Band is also playing at the opening of Astroland at Coney Island around 11:30am