“I just don’t want to get arrested . . .”
“They’re saying this is illegal . . . ”
“The only other time I’ve been arrested is–”
Many random snatches of conversation show a hint of paranoia in the crowd of humans on wheels crammed into every quarter of Union Square, for what could easily be the largest Critical Mass* ride the city has ever seen. They are here on city bikes and mountain bikes, shiny cruisers and rusty beaters, pedicabs and hand-built “tall bikes.” They have anti-Bush posters and stickers and T-shirts. The sun is setting, and with a wild whoop and a bell and a rattle of chains, the riders make their way, very slowly, past blocked-in city buses and marooned cabs, south down the eastern side of Union Square, and across 14th street. Only then can they move more freely, chanting “Whose Streets? Our Streets!” and “More Bikes Less Cars!”
Traffic is not happy. Specifically the traffic backed up on 12th Street at the intersection of Broadway, where after several light cycles with no movement, a working man emerges from his truck to confront some cyclists who were blocking them so others could pass. “Fuck Bush! I don’t care about Bush! You assholes got to MOVE!” he yelled. A second driver takes a more direct approach. Squeezing his panel truck around from behind the first vehicle at the intersection and nearly hitting William Etundi, of Counter Convention, he gets out of his truck, shoves Etundi and chases him back up Broadway. Etundi escapes on wheels.
*Critical Mass is a monthly worldwide “organized coincidence” unofficially sponsored here in the city by New York environmental group Time’s UP.