Monday, October 31, 2005

Critical Mass-Cops back down

I'd like to personally thank Met Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, and his underling, Superintendant Gomm of New Scotland Yard for the publicity generated by last month's little flyering excercise, where we were threatend with arrest, torture and incarceration (perhaps) by taking part in what was deemed to be an "illegal demonstration". This excercise in futility obviously got the regular CM'ers rather more active than usual in ensuring that we made it a BIG one. And BIG it was. Police estimates were at 1200 cyclists, meaning it was probably more like 1500. Being the Halloween ride, lots of people ghouled up. Myself, Steve, Adam and Hannah were all part of the Ghostcycle team. We had three frames in tow, and generated a fair bit of interest in the website. All in all, a very succesful ride. Long may it continue. And, Superintendant Gomm, if you need a job in PR and event promotion, drop me a line!

There's some photos of the ride here.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

More photos

Gday all,

A flurry of activities has seen the Euroblather photologue added to yet again. Three new chapters have gone up:

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Critical crackdown

Matt Seaton
Wednesday October 26, 2005
The Guardian

For the past 11 years, on the last Friday of the month, cyclists numbering from a few score to, sometimes, several hundred have gathered near Waterloo bridge in London at 6pm. When some kind of quorum is achieved, they ride around en masse for a couple of hours before dispersing. There is no planned route, no identifiable leader, and no explicit political aim.

Critical Mass, as this "unorganised coincidence" is known, is organised enough to have a website - but only to insist that it is not a protest; more a fun ride to "assert our identity as cyclists". If you're interested, there is probably a Critical Mass near you; many UK cities have one. I've only joined the London ride once. There was an exhilarating carnival spirit, but after an hour or so, I felt I'd got the idea and pedalled off.

Until now, the ride has enjoyed benign policing designed to minimise its impact on other traffic. But last month, officers - themselves on bikes - handed out leaflets explaining that, in future, if the Metropolitan police was not informed in advance about the ride, then it would be deemed an "unlawful demonstration" and participants "liable to arrest". This Friday will be the first test of the "get tough" stance, but it has already drawn criticism, notably from the mayor's road safety ambassador. In an open letter to Sir Ian Blair, Jenny Jones criticises such "heavy-handed application" of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (2005). According to the Met's public order branch, she says, Critical Mass does not meet the criteria for a political demonstration.

What could have inspired such folly? Sadly, the Met seems to be copying the NYPD's crackdown on Critical Mass, which began in August 2004 when the Republican National Convention came to New York. Some 237 cyclists were arrested. Across the bridge, Brooklyn Critical Mass continues, but in Manhattan, a ritualistic game of cat and mouse between cops and massers has taken place ever since - a costly lesson in how little can be achieved by pointlessly macho policing.

Zero tolerance: the most overrated concept of our age.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Hamburg for a wedding

Katie and I took off last weekend (via the rather nightmarish Ryanair/Stansted/Lubeck combo) for Hamburg, Europe's busiest port, home of Airbus, Lenz and the Reeperbahn. Main purpose of the trip was Sonja & Felix' wedding on Saturday. The ceremony was at Johanneskirche in the centre of town, followed by a ferry ride thru the canals and Alte (Hamburg's main lake), and finally onto the river Elbe for a reception on the tall ship Rikman Rikmer.

All manner of other stuff took place, including numerous meals, seven am nights on the Reeperbahn, a visit to one of the world's biggest model railway displays (complete with harbour with working tide and 60 tonnes of water..the control room wouldn't look out of place running central London...crazy), a sojurn on Lenz' yacht. 'Twas a bloody great time, and we've got some photos here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Aberdeen AFL and Limey

A couple of weekends back, me n Katie trekked up to Aberdeen to visit Mel and Callum. Highlights included the Glenfiddich Distillery tour, Dunnotar Castle and Aberdeen's invigorating nightlife. There's a few pix on this page.

Big time yob fun was had last weekend at the annual AFL challenge match, held at The Oval. It really was ac ase of the lunatics taking over the asylum, with twenty odd thousand screaming antipodeans watching Fremantle and West Coast slug it out for four quarters. And slug it out they did.

Streaker count was zero, and the inevitable pitch invasion was a bit more subdued this year, perhaps because the Oval no longer lets you take in your own drinks. A pictodiary of some of the proceedings are here. We managed to score seats in the Members' Pavillion, which was quite chi chi (and the bar service very slow ain't cricket!). Nice to wander through the Long Room, etc which I guess would have been quite electric a couple of weeks ago when our boys lost the Ashes.

And finally (tho not neccesarily in chronological order) are some general pics of Katie and Scott's London, including an exhibition by Lucy Orta at The Barbican, some masterful cocktails at the Oxo Tower Bar.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Critical Mass, Illegal?

Steve, Hannah, myself and about three hundred other cyclists converged on the Southbank last Friday night for the monthly Critical Mass cycle ride. All was going quite nicely until a flotilla of police on bikes turned up and handed out the friendly little notice that's reproduced to the left. It's interesting that they regard the 'Mass as a "Demonstration", when the website states: "Critical Mass London is a mass cycle around central London to assert our identity as cyclists and celebrate the freedom we should enjoy as cyclists....." It ain't a demonstration, Superintendent Gomm, it's a group ride.

They also maintain that it's "not lawful because no organiser has provided police with the neccessary notification.". Well, if a permanent presence on the internet advising: "....Anyone can join in, just bring yourself and your bike down to the South Bank on the last Friday of each month, between 6pm & 6:45pm under Waterloo Bridge." aint notification, then how come the good officers of the Met have had a presence (and escorted us, blocked intersections, dealt with irate motorists, etc) at every ride I've been on over the last three years or so? Another fact that the cops don't seem to be able to grasp is that there is no organiser (person or committee) of Critical Mass. It's just an organic event that HAPPENS.

Do they crack down on 3,000 cars descending on Highbury for an Arsenal home game every second Saturday? Why incite trouble by trying to close down an event that has been a part of London for the last eleven years?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Just found an album

I just found a Yahoo! album or two I had forgotten about. Both from Germany. One is a trip Trevor & I made to Munich in July 2003 I think. The other is Lenz & my trip to the Nuremburgring in Aug 2003 for the old-timer races.......Click this link for access.