(photos from the Bicycle Film Festival's art show and opening party, as well as May's Critical Mass with the return of the ticket-zombies)

Yesterday was the first time I've ridden Critical Mass in a while. And I have to say it was the first time I've been embarrassed by the ride. During the usual rally at Union Square before the ride, the Rev. Al Sharpton made an appearance to speak about NYPD brutality and oppression (something that Critical Mass riders are somewhat familiar with). Just as the Revered was about to speak, a group of riders on the south edge of the square began whooping and leading the ride away, purposefully turning their backs on Sharpton and heading off noisily. It was noticed by everyone there, and a lot of riders were very confused.

I can understand that some people are not fans of Sharpton using Critical Mass as a platform for his Sean Bell crusade, or any other for that matter. However the rejection and display of refutation of this media figure using his clout to bring attention to the NYPD's heavy-handed handling of Critical Mass was just plain stupid. Selfish and stupid. As corny as his speech was, and as spotlight-grabbing as his tactics are, they do help to bring public attention to things. The enemy is the NYPD, not exaggerative media figures. Don't be so high up on your horse that you aren't willing to accept a helping hand.

The very principal at stake here is how Critical Mass rides work. Safety and strength in numbers. Divided you fall.

Update: check out Chris from Team Spider's video from the above-mentioned Critical Mass ride (complete with Rev. Al Sharpton riding a bike).


Team Spider is the local vocal proponent of all things bicycle, and up until recently boasted the oldest member of any punk band (R.I.P. Zak). So they seemed appropriate for a post about bikes and Critical Mass. Their new album "Fuck Brakes" is entirely about both of these things, after all.

• Team Spider - My Life Your Rights

A band's place in myspace.


  1. awesome. thanks for covering this.

  2. I was one of the ppl who left early. I hadn't seen or heard Sharpton. The way things were set up I could hardly see or hear anything from speakers. I am an activist, and I tend to get frustrated when I see activists do things ineffectively. In this case it was the kitchen sink approach to speakers, a lot of people were talking and talking for way too long out of a shitty bullhorn. I gave up on trying to hear anything and moved away.

    I think part of me just didn't believe Sharpton was coming because I'd only heard by word of mouth 2 hours before. I didn't see him, I didn't see any media there, there was however a white wingnut screaming "We are all Sean Bell!", which made me uncomfortable - us getting tickets isn't even close to getting brutally murdered on your wedding day.

    A lot of ppl don't like Sharpton, but since he ran for president in 2004 I've had a lot more respect for him. Especially his handling of the Sean Bell campaign. I regret I didn't wait the five minutes.

  3. On a totally unrelated note... HAPPY BIRTHDAY TOD!