A spontaneous evening goes awry, leaving skid marks on this cyclist's view of his city. > By Stuart Post
Editor's note: Using a bicycle for transportation on the streets of New York City can be an intimidating, and downright dangerous, endeavor. The Bloomberg administration is working to make the city more bike-friendly – through newly designated bike-only lanes, to cite the most visible example. But how bike-friendly can a city be if its premier grassroots cycling event operates in an atmosphere of police hostility? That's one question that occurred to self-described "accidental anarchist" Stuart Post, a 48-year-old resident of the Gramercy Park area, who joined last month's Critical Mass bike ride.
Begun in San Francisco in 1992, Critical Mass is a deliberately leaderless happening (thus its anarchist cred): a regularly occurring, yet informal, group bike ride. These days it's taking place in hundreds of cities around the globe. It started up in Manhattan in 1993; currently it leaves from Union Square Park at around 7 p.m. on the last Friday of every month, destination unknown. "Because I went on the ride, I was able to get used to riding in traffic," says Barbara Ross, spokeswoman for the bicycling and environmental group Time's Up! Acclimating to city streets is something the administration presumably would support. But, Ross said, "Our feeling is that since 2004 the city has been trying to stop the ride, or at least the NYPD [has]." On Aug. 27, 2004, just days before the last Republican National Convention opened here, the ride took place with thousands of participants – and mass arrests by the police. read more here