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<nettime> Bikes for Peace ride
sgp on Mon, 17 Feb 2003 08:23:30 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> Bikes for Peace ride


Apologies for any cross-posting.

A brief report from Saturday's rollin' n resistin' Bikes for Peace ride in
New York City.

12:00pm Union Square southside
A small group slowly builds into a sidewalk choking crowd of bikes and
spandex being herded against barricades by the police force anticipating our
arrival. Riders appear from all directions.

12:30pm Broadway
As we begin to roll out, the police move in and threaten to seize bikes from
non-helmet wearing riders(about 1/2 the group). The first potential victim
turns out to apparently be a Transportation Alternatives member who recites
the helmet law to the officer, stating only kids under 14 need helmets. We
ride away smiling and blocking the entire width of Broadway, a swarming mass
of about 30-40 riders. We consist of messengers, former messengers,
commuters, aficionados, the gamut of two wheeled possibilities - picking up
stray riders along the way. Some have adorned their bikes with signs,
banners, noise makers and the otherwise innocent clanging handlebar mounted
bell. We run south, then loop around to the east and head back north
ultimately ending up northbound on Madison Ave at 23rd St.

1:30pm Madison and 57th Street
We ride north on Madison Ave, stopping for red lights, but preventing any
cars other than taxis from passing us. In front of us lay open road. Behind
us lay a honking frustrated mass of steel and vinyl - buses, cars, SUV's and
delivery trucks. As we approach 57th Street we see an easterly cross current
of protesters heading for 1st Ave blocking the intersection. This was the
first sign of many to come that day of pedestrians taking back the streets.
We slowly roll up to 57th Street to the cheers of the marching mass upon
seeing us, yelling "Bikes for Peace", "Bikes not Bombs", "No Blood for Oil",
etc. We stop and sit, becoming temporary crossing guards, preventing the
traffic behind us from intervening or inching forward. The exhausted
Greyhound bus engine behind me finally gives up and shuts off.

2:00pm Bloomingdale's
The throng thins and we continue to roll north until 59th Street where we
make a right turn and roll east. We encounter numerous officers attempting
to prevent the easterly flow but we are too many and simply roll right past.
We finally reach Lexington and another mass of marching peds. Across the
intersection its clear the police have placed their blue wood barricades and
have successfully for now altered the flow into a trickle. We dismount and
scatter into the crowd and receive an announcement to reconvene at 3pm at
Columbus Circle to ride into Times Square. I file into the crowd and get
swept east to 3rd Ave. The mass at 3rd Ave. is heading north, but its seems
unclear where it's going. It becomes clear this is an overflow, seeking
eastward, because as we pass each cross street I see our counterparts
marching south on 2nd Ave. At 69th Street we finally make a right turn and
cheers erupt. We reach 2nd Ave and again cheers erupt as we meet the
southward flow. For the next few blocks we step freely. Then the crowd
thickens and the pace slows. We've run up against our first resistance, a
police barricade has been placed across the avenue. But because we are so
many with no where to go and no chance of reversing our course, the
barricade is opened. This happens numerous times at almost every cross
street until at one point it appears access to 1st Ave is open and the mass
splinters, some heading south, some east. The southerly group comes across a
northerly group around 65th Street. This time the barricade is actual
officers not the metal or wood kind. They are applying their flying V
maneuver to wedge into the crowd and force them onto the sidewalks and off
the street. But in this case its not really working as the crowd soon
realizes the southerlies are filling in behind the officers and soon enough
surrounding them. The flying V fails.

3:00pm Columbus Circle
We reconvene chilled but thrilled at the days successful taking of the
streets. Spirits are high and stories pass from rider to rider about their
observations and encounters. We head across 59th Street and loop around
until we are heading south again on 7th Ave, again blocking traffic. As we
get about 5 blocks from Times Sq we see that protestors have already arrived
and are attempting to take over the streets. We roll into Times Square to an
enormous cheering mass slicing between blue barricades and the TKTS
building.

3:30pm Times Square
Carving to the right we head west to Broadway and come to stop as the
buzzing crowd fills into the intersection of Broadway and 47th St. We seem
to have been the signal to commence taking back Times Square as the mass
filled in around us blocking the intersection, frustrating traffic and
police alike. We hold fast until another flying V is waged, this time
successfully. The police are gruff and not hesitant to physically push us
onto the sidewalks. They clear the intersections and splinter our bike group
in about 5 minutes. We finally reconvene at Bryant Park as word spreads from
rider to rider of the core's whereabouts. We attempt to escort numerous
intersection takeovers for the next hour, spinning here and there around the
Times Square area, flocking to the next reported hemorrhage until 4:30 when
we encounter a small band seemingly without direction asking us where they
should go, left or right. We block the intersection and escort them across
until they rejoin another group.

4:30pm 40's and Park Ave.
My toes numb and nose sniffling, I finally part from the group as they swarm
south to the next call, our only bruise the arrest of one member for laying
across an intersection.


For more information:
http://www.unitedforpeace.org/article.php?id=812#peaceride
Related information(note Times-Up was not the sponsor of the ride):
http://www.times-up.org/

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