Skip to content or view mobile version

Home | Mobile | Editorial | Mission | Privacy | About | Contact | Help | Security | Support

A network of individuals, independent and alternative media activists and organisations, offering grassroots, non-corporate, non-commercial coverage of important social and political issues.

Amazing turnout on "banned" critical mass

kriptick | 28.10.2005 22:47 | SOCPA | Ecology | Repression | Social Struggles | London

Despite their threats of critical mass being illegal, the cops were totally ridden over tonight. Amazing turnout of massers, must have been over a thousand? Well done to all the people who must have been networking very hard. The paltry 20 or so cops present were all on push bikes and could only "facilitate" in the most minor way. The haloween themed ride seemed to go pretty much where it wanted with no intervention - Trafalgar Square, Buck House, Victoria, several laps around Parliament Square with much banging and crashing from the now mobile samba band. I left everyone ranting outside Downing Street when my battery expired.

View of just some of those at start
View of just some of those at start

Cops were um... outnumbered
Cops were um... outnumbered

Bikes give you a warm glow
Bikes give you a warm glow

Seasonal head protection
Seasonal head protection

Young witch
Young witch

Des with his seasonal bike
Des with his seasonal bike

Samba band gets wheels
Samba band gets wheels

Yes we all do
Yes we all do

Crossing the river
Crossing the river

Taking over Parliament Sq illegally
Taking over Parliament Sq illegally

Ranting outside Downing St
Ranting outside Downing St




Hide the following 7 comments

Spoke to some police...

29.10.2005 04:25

they we're nice and seemingly onside. The last thing they want to do is bust hundreds of harmless people.. it turns out they weren't consulted at all before this letter business and it was just the standard crew along this time, no extra vans or manpower..

One of the policemen I spoke to reckoned it's a career move by the commisioner, something to bolster his rep within the met and the government, a none event on the ground that might sound like a strong initiative on his CV. I think it's part beurocracy (doing the paperwork and covering his arse) and part warning-shot (we've got new powers and they apply to YOU hippies). Interestingly, it turns out the rollerblade crew DO go through the 'proper channels' and submit a route plan in advance! That's why there generally unpoliced, and also, I reckon, why they don't tag along.. sad that, perhaps we should follow them 4 a while?.. :-/

Incidentally.. that raises an interesting legal point of argument.. if a legal procession and a 'il'legal procession happen to mash into each other in the street, how long before the legal processioneers forfiet their legal 'priveleges' by way of their association with us, the officialy unsanctioned randomists? (answers on a postcard)

All I really wanted to say is that all the police I spoke to seemed to enjoy todays ride too (and I'm sure most of them enjoy the overtime ;) I even overheard the new girl saying "I'm loving this" before her saddlesore set in later, proper harsh racing saddles on them police bikes! Pity the police aren't allowed to join unions and demand comfier ones :-(

So if commisioner blair does have a problem with the critical mass (which I doubt really) he's gone and shot himself in the foot.. All he seems to have done is massively bolster the turnout and demonstrate that a mass 3 or 4 times it's usual size can happen smoothly for the same cost to the Met as the normal one.. with the added advantage the policing is more practical (stopping traffic & protecting cyclists from the cab drivers) and less in-your-face and advesarial, whoo! progress!

Thing is we gotta keep it up now and come proper LARGE on the next one, those people dancing in the street vibes require more mass than usual.. while I know fliers aren't massively eco-friendly I'm going to do some anyway.. if flyering bikes & bike places gets a few people to come out cycling who would otherwise spend those 4/5 hours consuming electricity & heating somewhere else then I'm sure that'd offset the carbon cost (anyone know which agency we should contact to claim our carbon credits? ;)

Anyways, had a wicked time tonight, big respect to everyone who represented, esp the newbies and the sambistas! CU all on the 25th Nov :0)




People like you give cyclists a bad name!

29.10.2005 12:12

You are doing the cycling community no favours by these mass cycle rides which irritate motorists. Most motorists dislike cyclists enough already without you making the situation worse. I have seen proffesional cyclists like couriers shout abuse at you. You would be better spending your time campaigning for more off road cycle routes and cycling facitities such a secure bike parking.


How good was that!!?! =) =)

29.10.2005 16:28

My first every critical mass... and definitly not the last!

'Cyclist'... I don't really give a damn about your mythical 'cycling community' or your percieved opinion about the judgment of 'professional cyclists'. I drive a car, I ride a motorbike, i pedal a bike, I walk the streets; what 'community' am I in..?

Yesterday was fun, and that is what it all comes down to. Yes, i saw drivers getting irate, and indeed it must have been a very dis-empowering experience for them. Yes, i did see cyclists being needlessly rude to motorists, and Yes, I did see some negative reactions from the 'public'... But on the flip-side, I saw far more people smiling at each other, having a good time, talking to each other where normally there would probably have just been glares and people braking out of their shells.
I saw far more people in cars smiling, waving at us and even getting out and joining dancing than were shouting or visibly angry. I saw people clapping us along, people cheering, and people feeling liberated enough to start rapping and singing to us.
I saw police smiling at people, and people smiling back. I saw policemen weaving across the empty roads in glee, and i saw them being treated the same as anyone else with a hi-viz and clear intent to facilitate, people stood up to them if they were out of line (as they did with anybody), people gave them respect if they deserved it, and they were not alienated by the mere fact that they were 'pigs'. In short, they were treated like everybody else.

Ambulances made quicker progress through the mass than through the cars, though i did notice a generally more relaxed pace at clearing the way for the unmarked cop cars ( ;b ). Also; pedestrian crossings were by-and-large respected and pedestrian traffic mostly unhindered (though with the addition of a thousand people in a small area some delay is indeed inevitable).

As for the 'inconvinence'... well, at any given point on the mass, the facillitation of a space was far greater than had motorised traffic been there (1 car = 6m^2 = 5 bikes?). this is not to mention the obvious difference between someone operating a light body-energy-lever, and someone operating a 1000kg machine spewing noxious fumes, through the densely populated streets of inner london.

"You would be better spending your time campaigning for more off road cycle routes and cycling facitities such a secure bike parking."

I agree dedicated cycling routes would be great, and from what i hear parking is a problem..

Surely presenting cycling as a fun, enjoyable, viable way of travelling around london is the best way (...well, a *good* way at least!;b ) of securing those sorts of facilities. People actually *using* bikes is going to have far more sway with the likes of TfL than some vangard of 'professional' and 'real' cyclists who write 'campaign' letters.

I'm about to move to london, and CM showed me that cycling is a viable way of transporting myself around. I spoke to 3 people that night (who had been walking by CM at various points on the route) who didn't really ride, but thought CM looked like so much fun, they would be there next time.

I come into a lot of contact with TfL in my job, and I can tell you for sure that they don't decide policy based upon a few letters or 'pressure groups'. They get (actually very comprehensive!) statistics on how people travel, what they currently use, what routes they take... etc etc. They are not in the job of creating alternatives; such a thing is expensive and risky. They are in the job of making the current methods run more smoothly... roads are expanded when they are over used, beacuse you have a proven track record of use, and at the end of your project you put on your CV for the next consulting job that you developed a road scheme used by 20,000 extra people a week, reduced standing time by this many hours, blah blah blah... the fact you built a cycle network in response to some letters, that is predominantly used by a hardcore of cyclists is not going to get you far in the TfL hierachy and thus are not going to be built in the first place.

By encouraging people out on their bikes, even for just one friday a month, you generate a requirement for cycling facilites that previously wasn't there. When it becomes statisticly more impressive to facilitate the cyclists rather than the motorists (which is pretty easy considering the ease with which cyclist can get around, given the right facilities) cycling facilities will be given the attention they deserve.

Cynical though it is, we can stand and scream about the merits of cycling, and to be honest, I think everyone knows that we are by-and-large 'right' in what we say. But to get results from State society, we need to demonstrate a reward for those who have the ability to make the required changes, typically (in this case) in the form of career advancement, which is achieved by giving them a demand to meet and the chance to see real use of those allowances, which is only going to be achieved through popular use of bicycles.

Critical Mass is just one good way of encouraging such use.

Much love to every one there... Cyclists, Waving pedestrian's, Smiling drivers and friendly cops.

See you next month!

A Happy Cyclist.xx

Happy cyclist

It's people like you...

29.10.2005 16:32

..who come across pedantic and fussy enough to do that kind of campaigning so please go off and do it.. I'll do this.. and if it antagonises the motorists so much the better, they antagonise (and poison) us the rest of the month.. hopefully it may be the straw that breaks the camel's back for a few of them and gets them onto a more socially responsible form of transport.

It's funny you say "have seen proffesional cyclists like couriers shout abuse" coz I've never seen that, and the most hardcore and longstanding contingent of critical mass riders ARE cycle couriers. I see little but support for this action.. when random members of the public stop me and ask what's going on, and I explain the basic idea is to jam up the road to annoy the car drivers and discourage driving in the city centre they almost always think it's a great idea, wish us all luck and ask how they can get involved.

So if you have a better idea please go do it yourself instead of slagging off everybody else for doing it 'wrong'.. I sincerely hope it goes well, better bike parking would be nice. Maybe you could persuade some of these "proffesional" (sic) cyclists to come help you, maybe they could help check the spelling on your campaign letters ;0P


Letter to un-official CM website

29.10.2005 22:57

Hi There,

Apologies if you have already received a mail from me (was typing and hit the send button by mistake) and for the sake of repeat;

I was saddened to read your last post on the un-official CM website, and would like to make a few points;

1. I have been attending CM on a less frequent basis for various reasons - and was one of those holed up at Oxford circus with an apparent lack of focus. A group of young people were stuck on the bus wanting to get home, sporting a bag full of shopping from one of the retail outlets - but 'could not afford to get the tube home'. The police on bikes were very clever and had been separating cyclists from back and front (crude divide and rule tactics) from Charing Cross Road. I witnessed about 6 cops on bikes pushing the front group away from Oxford circus towards Bond Street, and was further assisted / exacerbated by driving of 1 ambulance through cyclists and at speed - 2 squad cars. The back riders group was also held up at corner of Tottenham Court intersection by traffic. It is no wonder people were confused and were waiting at Oxford Circus for back riders to catch up and figure out what was going on.

2. More vocal and regular CM riders were less likely to support and guide inexperienced cyclists (who a had been motivated by friends to come out - possibly for the first time) to stay together. Concerns about being labeled as 'protest organisers'??
3. There was an absence of riders handing out information leaflets to the general amused public.

4. I was amazed at CM numbers considering the last one which I attended was in June '05 - with similar weather conditions earlier in the day - and only 40 riders turned out. The event was well published and attracted riders from London and some from far away in the UK who came by train in support -> good effort!

5. I am amazed at the views of people most affected by our present government system but are the most vocal supporters of it!! This included a homeless man who set his dog on cyclists with a tirade of abuse.

6. From what I have read, you potentially took a lot of stick from the met police about being conceived as an 'organiser' and at some point as a professional - one has to way up the risks. I would like to encourage you to continue. This is civil disobedience at its finest. Bearing in mind what has been happening in New York, this has been a fantastic victory!! Tactics from the government will only intensify in the future.

What I am trying to say is - the CM website is a great service to other riders from an information and especially motivation aspect, with links to photos / video and the like. You obviously have invaluable IT technical skills which would be a great loss to CM.

Please don’t be disheartened and continue in the good work.


Fellow CM rider.


Move those wheels!

31.10.2005 14:42

It was great to be with so many cyclists on Friday. 500? Easy peasy. 1000? Maybe. 2000 - nah. It would have been a lot better if we'd cycled around Parliament Square rather than - what were we doing? Standing with an angry person shouting. Before anyone says 'nobody's in charge' - no, nobody is in charge, but if a bunch of people very determinedly grind to a halt at the front it's, well, it's a bit like they're in charge. After a pointless while we did decide to get moving again and do another lap of the square before the whole thing headed off. Next time, though, praps we can cycle around and around the square - cycling is lovliest of all and a few laps of P. Sq. every now and then would be poetry!

Had no time at all for the ridiculousness at Oxford Circus - had hoped for a few laps around Marble Arch - much better, much more fun. Maybe next time...


held up by traffic?

03.11.2005 17:02

"The back riders group was also held up at corner of Tottenham Court intersection by traffic. It is no wonder people were confused and were waiting at Oxford Circus for back riders to catch up and figure out what was going on."???!

I found myself stopped just by the Charing X Road/ Oxford Street junction - changing the batteries in my light among other things - and was amazed at how little effort people were putting into sticking together, or communicating with those ahead.

The only traffic that was blocking the road - and preventing the riders at the back of the mass from continuing/turning into Oxford Street - were Critical Massers! there were no cars/buses/ even bike-cops (unless they were v clever and not in uniform!) getting in the way or slowing things down.

I still don't get why a large group of people - including pretty much all the samba possee - thought that was an appropriate place or time to just stop riding, for upwards of 15 minutes... by which point it *looked* as though the rest of the Mass had mostly got at least as far as Oxford Circus... and i could see lots of riders behind the blockage, a little further down Charing X road, who had no idea that/why they were being held up/split off from the Mass

I was so depressed by that - and all the other indecisive/thoughtless/stupid? behaviour i witnessed that evening - that I left the area (and the Mass) shortly after that, so have no idea how long they stayed there in the end.

And yeah, what's wrong with RIDING the damn bikes?! around parliament square for example ( why did we all have to stop there and stand around? ) and at the sort of healthy speed that will show all those pedestrians how fun, fast and efficient cycling is as a method of transport?!

Like the poor cm london website person, i have also deliberately avoided the Mass in recent months. In part due to the police's presence, various liberal reactions to their presence, and decreasing levels of collective responsibility for the Ride and its aims (by which i mean the basics - sticking together as a Mass, keeping moving, keeping safe and blocking junctions where necessary but not just to wind drivers up); in part due to the frustratingly low speeds which some riders seem to enjoy - where's the joy in *not pedalling*?! it actually makes it trickier to ride and stay balanced, especially when you're riding some wierd bike or towing a trailer. can anyone explain why they want CM to travel at less than 5 mph?! really, i'm curious...

Another ex-London-Masser

Upcoming Coverage
View and post events
Upcoming Events UK
24th October, London: 2015 London Anarchist Bookfair
2nd - 8th November: Wrexham, Wales, UK & Everywhere: Week of Action Against the North Wales Prison & the Prison Industrial Complex. Cymraeg: Wythnos o Weithredu yn Erbyn Carchar Gogledd Cymru

Ongoing UK
Every Tuesday 6pm-8pm, Yorkshire: Demo/vigil at NSA/NRO Menwith Hill US Spy Base More info: CAAB.

Every Tuesday, UK & worldwide: Counter Terror Tuesdays. Call the US Embassy nearest to you to protest Obama's Terror Tuesdays. More info here

Every day, London: Vigil for Julian Assange outside Ecuadorian Embassy

Parliament Sq Protest: see topic page
Ongoing Global
Rossport, Ireland: see topic page
Israel-Palestine: Israel Indymedia | Palestine Indymedia
Oaxaca: Chiapas Indymedia
All Regions
South Coast
Other Local IMCs
Bristol/South West
Social Media
You can follow @ukindymedia on and Twitter. We are working on a Twitter policy. We do not use Facebook, and advise you not to either.
Support Us
We need help paying the bills for hosting this site, please consider supporting us financially.
Other Media Projects
Dissident Island Radio
Corporate Watch
Media Lens
Earth First! Action Update
Earth First! Action Reports
All Topics
Animal Liberation
Climate Chaos
Energy Crisis
Free Spaces
Ocean Defence
Other Press
Public sector cuts
Social Struggles
Terror War
Workers' Movements
Major Reports
NATO 2014
G8 2013
2011 Census Resistance
Occupy Everywhere
August Riots
Dale Farm
J30 Strike
Flotilla to Gaza
Mayday 2010
Tar Sands
G20 London Summit
University Occupations for Gaza
Indymedia Server Seizure
COP15 Climate Summit 2009
Carmel Agrexco
G8 Japan 2008
Stop Sequani
Stop RWB
Climate Camp 2008
Oaxaca Uprising
Rossport Solidarity
Smash EDO
Past Major Reports
Encrypted Page
You are viewing this page using an encrypted connection. If you bookmark this page or send its address in an email you might want to use the un-encrypted address of this page.
If you recieved a warning about an untrusted root certificate please install the CAcert root certificate, for more information see the security page.

Global IMC Network

satellite tv


estrecho / madiaq
la plana
northern england
nottingham imc
united kingdom

Latin America
chile sur
cmi brasil
cmi sucre
puerto rico


South Asia

United States
hudson mohawk
kansas city
minneapolis/st. paul
new hampshire
new jersey
new mexico
new orleans
north carolina
north texas
rogue valley
saint louis
san diego
san francisco
san francisco bay area
santa barbara
santa cruz, ca
tampa bay
united states
western mass

West Asia


fbi/legal updates
mailing lists
process & imc docs