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News ::
Critical Mass Kicks off NYC BikeSummer '03 (english)
30 Jun 2003
Critical Mass Kicks off NYC BikeSummer '03
Critical Mass Kicks off NYC BikeSummer '03

Pedal. Sweat. Pedal. Sweat.



An attendance record that broke all NYC Critical Mass events was established on Friday, June 27 with a whopping 800 as the fifth annual BikeSummer was kicked off.

BikeSummer was started in San Francisco in 1999 by bike advocates from all over the spectrum, intended to be a month-long series of events to promote bicycle culture and leave behind a legacy of action for all who took part, including city planners and other folks who are affected by (the lack of) bicycle resources. From there it went on to Chicago, Vancouver and Portland, before New York City was chosen, which as i'm told, "beat" out Montreal. Maybe it was because NYC has over 110,000 daily bike commutes, the largest in the United States and it was our time.

The mass gathered at Union Square North, fearing the impending thunderstorm which never happened. Reverend Billy, a staple of lower east side performance fame and head of the Church of Stop Shopping kicked off the event by being pedaled around in a pedicab with scantily-clad bike punkettes on either side as he preached "More Bikes and Less Cars" throught his giant paper bullhorn.

The ride promoted an alternative to SUV sales, oil consumption, healthier living and utilizing multi-modal transporation. The ride took off out of the west side of the park sporting choppers, bmx'ers, foldables and percussion on handlebars in a record 9 blocks solid of bicycles, causing many an inconvenience to those not fortunate enough to have chosen the right vehicle to travel in. A three wheeled vehicle with speakers, tweeters and woofers strapped to the back blasted all our favorites via iPod. The mass proceeded uptown, through the Grand Central concourse, past Radio City Music Hall and turned left on 57th street, avoiding Columbus Circle from the last mass. Every once in a while we felt like stopping to enjoy the sights, but it's a shame there was an intersection. Oh well. Street Party. Bikes raised above our heads.

We went to the "fake sunlight/Corporate Capitol of Capital" aka Times Square and held it up for about 5 minutes until we regrouped. After enough poses to waste everyone's film we headed downtown to Washington Square Park. A police car wedged through and asked the head of the ride where we were going and we said, "Everywhere!" He told us he would escort us and he went ahead of us a block. We declared our independence from authority by turning away from him going one avenue to the west. He finally caught up and we showed him our independence once again. To celebrate his presence the speakers blasted KRS-1's "Sounds of the Police, woo-woo" and NWA's "Fuck, Fuck, Fuck the Po-Lice."

A quick run through the village down to Christopher Street and we decided to take a leisurely stroll down the West Side Highway utilizing all lanes. It had been at least a year since we hit it and it's so comfortable, with no potholes. We headed uptown until West 23rd Street where the welcoming afterparty was held on Pier 23 by Time's Up, the fiscal sponsor of BikeSummer '03. There was food at the event as well as plenty of beer and liquor and live music was set to go on the stage at the end of the pier, under the canopy.

All-female band 64 World's Fair started, followed by Team Spider, featuring members of Ohms Media Collective and their 78 year old spoken word member. Next on was British pop-punk band Spunklads (now American citizens). My first mini-mosh pit to a punk version of the Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." The final band's name escapes me but freaked me out nonetheless. Picture a woman dressed in a Puritan outfit from the 1600s, a scantily-clad woman and a Grim Reaper whose face we never saw, playing the accordion. DJ's followed and Reverend Billy performed and wriggled on the floor, feeling the pulse of the night and the exorcism of automobiles. The Frying Pan, a decomissioned, once sunk ship was docked next door where people were free to explore.

Four apple cobblers were raffled off among other prizes.

BikeSummer will last until the next critical mass on Friday, July 25 and will leave behind a legacy of wisdom and insanity.

There will be a total of 150 events during BikeSummer featuring bike tours for all ages and skill levels, eco-rides, advocacy workshops, films, parades, parties and repair classes. For a calendar of events please visit the office of BikeSummer on 49 East Houston Street for more information or call: 212-330-7083 or download a calendar at

Viva la Velorution
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