Category Archives: Critical Mass

Talking Surface Travel with KPFA

I was on KPFA’s Terra Verde show hosted by Adam Greenfield last Friday. talking about surface travel, the Arco/BP protests, and what regular people can do in the face of environmental collapse.  Listen here:

http://kpfa.org/archive/id/62134

If anyone finds out what the past tense of ‘dive’ is, please let me know ;)

SF Critical Mass Visits Fell St. Arco Protest

By the way, I’m wearing the facemask and keffiyah to protect against all that pollution on Fell St.– any resemblance to an anarchist is purely coincidental.

Ode to Bike

My friend Jess Robins made this film about cycle culture in Bristol for her dissertation project in Film at UWE. It has some great clips of Bristol Critical Masses, and our transport protest–Reclaim the Roundabout–up at the University last February. Big up da Bristol Massiv, innit!

Part 1:

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEItV0XcqCg]

Part 2:

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0m_orZzEr0&feature=related]

Camp for Climate Action at Heathrow Airport!

sand.gifcritical-mass.jpg

Just a tip to help you avoid any delay or frustration and to allow you to take direct, effective action against the serious threat of climate change if you so choose.

I wouldn’t recommend making air travel plans that involve Heathrow or Gatwick during August, especially from the 14th to the 21st as you my encounter some unexpected turbulence on the ground.

Sorry for any inconvenience but if anyone hasn’t noticed, the Earth is getting too hot and our increasingly wasteful travel habits are to blame. Heathrow alone emits the equivalent of 31 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, and this cannot continue if we want to avoid climate chaos.

Note that this protest is aimed squarely at the airline industries and at the UK government that is hypocritically moving forward with a series of airport expansions, NOT individual travelers.

See http://www.seat61.com for a range of effective alternatives to wasteful, and increasingly irrelevant air travel.

See http://www.climatecamp.org.uk/ for more details about the camp

For more information or to join mass bicycle rides from all over the UK converging on Heathrow, see

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2420161391

Fasten your seatbelts everyone. The revolution will not be motorised.

The Rebirth of Bristol Critical Mass and our Death of the Urban 4×4 Party

Last Friday saw a resurgence in Bristol Critical Mass, where dozens of Bristolians held a spirited cyclefest, leaving from the Arnolfini art gallery and bar in the Centre. After the ride, we held a wicked Bristol hoe-down at our house, where we got down to disco, funk, and enjoyed moshing to a little Montreal angst pop, sucking down melting vodka icebergs (vodka jellies), and beating a 4×4 piñata savagely. Hey if the world is going to hell we may as well party while we still can, right? David Rose, one of the two cofounders of the Bristol Alliance Against 4x4s, struck the final blow of death to much applause, and bicycle accessories and treats poured out like the guts. Nobody wept for the “bummer”, which had killed many people and spewed more than its share of carbon in its time. As the fledgling but growing organisation says, NOT cool, NOT safe! There was just such a great vibe all night. The Critical Mass ride buzzed with spontaneity and camaraderie. When the crowd of about 50 or so cyclists was on Rupert St. near the Broadmead mall, a party going on above us on a terrace looked down as the ride passed by, and I belted out, “climate change we do not like- sell your car- BUY A BIKE” They all cheered. Awesome. After a few revolutions of the Broadmead roundabout, and being assaulted by a crazy woman in a Mini- (critical masses in SF get harassed by guys in dodge durangos- here in Bristol we get the psychiatric women in Minis) the last couple dozen of us headed to one of the oldest pubs in Bristol, the Hatchet, for a few pints, before riding back to my house where the party was already raging. Bristol Critical Mass looks set to continue next month, leaving from the Arnolfini at 6:30pm on Feb. 23rd, if you are on this side of the Atlantic. Maybe we will have a sound system next month…..and who knows- maybe another post mass party. I’ve been having pangs of homesickness this week, listening to my friend Jon Winston’s Bikescape podcast from San Fran. He plays great bicycle songs on his podcasts, many of which can be found at this bicycle music site. Finally, a tragic piece of news to report from San Francisco- a woman cyclist was hit by an illegally turning truck at the entrance to the Central Freeway last week, and remains in serious condition. in response hundreds of cyclists rallied at the mouth of the freeway to demand that the city take measures to prevent these illegal right turns, which they promptly did under the glare of news cameras and potential lawsuits. Too bad they didn’t make the safety upgrades when we asked them to, when this needless carnage could have been prevented. Anyway, check out the SF Bicycle Coalition page on the issue. The damage caused by virtually unrestrained car dependence continues to plague us all….. yet alliances are growing, built on a deep resistance to overconsumption of fossil fuels, even in the face of climate disaster, and neglect of the simple human right to live in a safe, clean, and stable world.

 

What kind of world do you want to live in, anyway?

 

Stern Report on Cost of Naked Cyclists to UK Economy

Today Sir Nicholas Stern, a respected UK economist, issued a report predicting serious impacts to the British economy from the increasing number of naked bicycle rides through British town centres. “If governments act immediately and decisively to avoid the rising tide of naked cycling, we will avoid the worst impacts of this worrying trend.” Known as the World Naked Bike Ride, these events are intended to draw attention to problems of oil dependence and climate change. They began in Spain in 2004 and have been spreading throughout the world at a rate that has alarmed scientists. According to Philip Petrole, a scientist with the Royal Academy on Public Decency, “we predicted the current levels of push-bike nudism for the year 2020. We are very concerned that these dangerous and socially destabilizing events could potentially continue throughout the year due to increasing winter temperatures associated with global warming.”

 

Central to economists concerns is the potential extinction of the Chelsea Tractor Mum (CTM), an economic powerhouse driving the success of the UK High Street. According to latest research, as well as anecdotal evidence, there is reason to worry that recent naked rides through the Broadmead Shopping Centre in Bristol, have disrupted a crucial habitat for this species. One CTM recently commented, “It was absolutely horrible. I’ll never come back here again….dozens and dozens of muscley naked toned bodies exposing themselves. I’m still having nightmares about those bulging calfs and toned thighs….” Biologists believe that when confronted with a group of naked cyclists, CTM’s enter an uncomfortable state of cognitive dissonance, comparing the cyclists’ healthy toned and tanned bodies, big grins, and the sudden manifestation of safe, healthy communities with their own life of frustration shuttling the kids everywhere, sitting in traffic gridlock, and constant fear that one of their own obese offspring will be squashed by their Land Rover one day.

 

Panicking capitalists are now attempting to lure these shoppers back with fake robotic Chelsea Tractor Mums made of straw, in order to fool them into thinking that there remains a thriving community of consumers, that the brief appearance of the naked pedalers was only fleeting. Mall bosses are hoping that these measures will lure CTM’s back to the hungry tills, yet indications are that they are failing miserably. In a particularly worrying sign, several former CTM’s have been observed in recent days on Gloucester Rd, riding with the kids to school — the rosy glow returning to their cheeks.

 

A desperate meeting of Broadmead officials last week also resulted in the installation of giant freezer fans at the entrances to the mall, to be used in the event the naked cyclists return. According to unnamed staff of Mr. Bymore Plasticshite, executive director of the mall, the scheme has backfired, as the extra coal needed to be burned to power the giant freezers, has in turn warmed up the planet’s climate, and generated additional naked rides. Scientists are warning that this so-called feedback loop could end up producing runaway naked bike rides, until hopping on two wheels in the buff becomes the norm. “By then it will be too late. We must take decisive action now to halt the growing concentration of attractive bottoms flooding the high street. Our very way of life is under threat.”

UK or Bust: Police Brutality and Resistance: Montreal Critical Mass 25 Aug. 2006

As it was the last friday of the month, I decided to ride down to Philips Square to check out the monthly Montreal Critical Mass ride, which gathers at 5:30 and rides at 6pm. The sun was shining, and attractive Quebecois were going about their day, buying flowers from the kiosk in the square, going home from work and passing by, observing the growing crowd of cyclists. There was a guy in a Bush mask and a suit who riding with us, and two sisters, Fanny and Marion, had made stencils out of old t-shirts, and were handing them out to the assembled massers. I pinned one to my guitar case that said “vive le velorution”. Thought that was appropriate….(my e-mail is velorution@yahoo.com)

 

We pulled out of Philips Square, about 40 cyclists, some with plants draped around their handlebars and some with papier mache palm trees. I think there was some sort of Earth theme going on, as it was Katrina- Climate connection ride, organized by the climate justice group Rising Tide North America.

 

A police car drove close behind us, announcing over his loudspeaker: Envoye En n’avance!! (Get going- get a move on….) (What a great name this would be for a new Montreal based bike direct action campaign along the lines of Times Up in NYC…..vous ecoutez les Montreal velorutionaires??)

 

Everyone was in high spirits, cruising down St. Katherine, exclaiming in French and English: “A qui la rue??? A NOUS la rue!!!!! and “Whose streets? OUR Streets!!”. The mood was light and people were chatting and socializing as we rode along. All of a sudden, word was passed forward that a woman was being arrested by the police. Everyone turned around and weaved back through traffic to see what had happened, and it turned out that the police had picked off a rider who was passing out flyers to passersby at the back of the ride. There was a crowd of shoppers gathered (as this was the main shopping district) and as the ride rallied around the woman being arrested, the police lunged for two more riders (who happened to be non-white) and threw them to the ground, knees in the back, arms wrenched behind them, simply for riding their bikes, and enquiring what had happened to the woman being roughly shoved head first into the police car.

 

In total, I believe that 3 people were arrested. The three were transported to the police station, and the rest of us rode on, sans police company. Many people on the street, and in windows above, waved and cheered, and later one guy in a Humvee yelled at us, “get a job!” We yelled back, “get a bike!” We ended up in a park, where we held a leaderless, mutually facilitated debriefing in a circle, consistent with the tradition of Critical Mass, where everyone shared their observations about the incident, and what was to be done about it.

 

Many thought that it was important to write to the papers about it and let others know this is happening.

 

I shared my experiences riding San Francisco Critical Masses almost monthly since 1997, and suggested ways to deal with police repression, as San Francisco, and most other masses throughout the world, have dealt with violence and intimidation tactics from police forces in the past.

 

A man from Winnipeg, Manitoba shared that the Critical Mass there was badly brutalized a couple months ago, with people being beaten as they were arrested, and then later while being held in jail. The next months ride swelled to 300 riders in protest. You can seen the video of the Winnipeg incident here.

 

And here I was thinking Canada was so progressive and environmentally friendly. Police, even in Montreal, are beating up peaceful cyclists riding lawfully and environmentalists speaking out against climate change.

 

Apparently, Montreal police are known for being aggressive, so watch out if you come to Montreal and want to ride a bike or speak out!

 

Those who witnessed this incident should speak up and protest these heavy handed tactics.

 

Envoye en n’avance!!!!