Critical Mess

Bicycle advocacy takes the back of the banana seat to Bush-bashing

Other participants reported that fire engines were deployed to box in bikers. If so, this was the city's biggest mistake. Emergency workers speeding to aid people elsewhere are always allowed through the Critical Mass flow without question. An erosion of that distinction could prove tragic.

Another wave of arrests occurred a short time later on Second Avenue in front of St. Mark's. While most riders came off the avenue and dismounted, many lingered on the avenue to chat, chant, and greet friends. Two police officers attempted to disperse the crowd, taking two riders into custody. (Some reports say one of the riders may have thrown food or a beer can at the officers, but I didn’t witness the moments before the arrest.)

The crowd tightened around the officers chanting, "Let them go!" A line of police in riot gear then came down Second Avenue. One woman standing atop a wall and clinging to a fence called out, "The police are coming! Lock up your bikes!" A more useful instruction might have been for riders to enter the church or leave the area. Instead, some participants panicked and began throwing their bicycles over the fence in a bid to prevent confiscations. Further confrontations and arrests ensued as the arriving police officers tried to extricate their colleagues and the two arrested bikers.

When I stood a foot or two inside the curb and asked one officer how far the arrests would spread, he said, "You're on the sidewalk and just standing with a bike. Why should I arrest you?"

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