Monday, August 30

Around the Capital of Magic with the Bikemob — John Perry Barlow on his participation in New York's Critical Mass bicycle ride

This must be the most enjoyable thing I've read in weeks. I'm quoting quite liberally from John's post, practically the whole thing in fact, but please do jump over and visit his site and read the rest of the post at your own leisure.
I'm pleased to report that everybody behaved gracefully and with restraint. While we did routinely run red lights - YOU try to get 5000 bicycles to stop suddenly - the police were chill and even, it seemed, mildly supportive.

Observers on the sidewalks cheered and clapped as we rode past, though there was the very occasional taunt. (My favorite cultural assertion was the guy who yelled at us, 'Get a car, you fukkin' tree-huggin' fucks.') The bikers yelled, whooped, and whistled a lot. One guy even had a kind of drum kit on his handlebars that he whacked away on throughout the ride. Occasionally we broke into various chants, most commonly a refrain where some folks would shout, 'Bush Sucks,' and the larger mass would reply, 'FUCK BUSH!' Not terribly intelligent, I admit, but shouted with apparent heartfelt conviction. I couldn't get the grin off my face, and neither, it seemed, could anyone else, biker or spectator.

There appeared to be no planned route. We turned an arbitrary new direction whenever we encountered resistance, giving the route a very fractal quality. We ended up riding south to Houston, up 6th to 30th or so, over to Madison and north, across to Broadway on some street in the 50's, and back down Broadway through Times Square, down 7th past Madison Square Garden and then over to the East Village.

Finally, after about two hours, the police decided that it was time to put a stop to it, which they did with efficiency and dispassion. Mobilizing suddenly and in force around St. Mark's Place, they created a box canyon of blue, let it fill with about 250 bicyclists and then methodically, if arbitrarily, arrested them all and hauled them off. They were doing their jobs just as, in a sense, we we were doing ours. When one engages in civil disobedience, arrest is a natural consequence that he should expect. I'm just glad they didn't trap me in their noose.

And, even if they had, it would have been worth the moment when we cascaded down the long slope of Broadway into the incandescent canyon of Times Square. We felt like an irresistible river of anarchic order. The air was cool and perfect. For a moment, all things seemed possible. It occurred to me that a Bike to The Polls movement would be a useful thing to start...

From BarlowFriendz: Around the Capital of Magic with the Bikemob

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