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Old 05-15-2008, 02:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Radical Cyclists Take to L.A. Freeways to Say Bikes Are Better

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Source: Wired
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Radical Cyclists Take to L.A. Freeways to Say Bikes Are Better


For the second time in two months, a bunch of Los Angeles bike advocates calling themselves Crimanimalz took to one of the busiest freeways in the world to make the case that, when your freeways are gridlocked, bikes are better.

About 30 cyclists rode onto the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10) at the height of Friday's rush-hour commute and went east to the San Diego Freeway (I-405), where they rode north to the Santa Monica Boulevard exit, moving easily through traffic. In all, they rode more than two miles.

"There's thousands of cars and you're just flying by," said one of the group, called RichToTheIE, by phone on Wednesday. "It's an amazing feeling."

The renegade rides are a radical off-shoot of the popular - and often controversial - Critical Mass rides held each month in cities around the world as cyclists grow increasingly vocal in asserting their rights to the road and extolling the environmental and societal benefits of ditching your car in favor of a bike.

Such rides are usually limited to downtown areas, but Crimanimalz are taking them to the freeways of Los Angeles to prove that riding a bike is faster than creeping through bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Crimanimalz first appeared around the end of last year after Santa Monica police started coming down hard on the monthly Critical Mass ride.

"The freeway is the last stronghold of the car, so when you've got 30 cyclists flying down the lanes, you feel like General Custer, you feel like the good guys," said Alex Cantarero, another of the group "People look on the bicycle as an anachronism. Now with high gas prices, the car looks like an anachronism."

Crimanimalz has held three Crimanimal Mass rides since April 18, when 15 cyclists rode almost three miles on the Santa Monica and San Diego freeways.

They haven't had much trouble with the California Highway Patrol, who managed to nab two of the cyclists in Friday's rides but let them off with a lecture even though Section 21960(a) of the California Vehicle Code gives police the authority to cite cyclists for riding on highways.

Bay Area cyclists haven't been quite so lucky. They've been busted biking over the Bay Bridge as part of their campaign to get a bike lane added to the span.

The Crimanimalz plan to keep pushing their luck - they're promising more Crimanimal rides. "We want to do a bigger freeway with more riders," said Cantarero.

The rides have garnered mixed reaction from cyclists at the Midnight Ridazz website.

Photo by Alex Thompson. See more on his Flickr page.
During one of the Critical Mass rides in NYC there was a huge amount of arrests. A couple I knew were locked up and they didn't get out for 72 hours or so. They were really upset that they were arrested and "singled" out from the rest of the group. They were also upset they missed a number of other activities and that they had to spend hours in a holding facility that was a garage so sitting on the floor was not pleasant.

I believe they got what was to be expected, and a little extra. If they weren't protesting they wouldn't have lost 72 hours. A little responsibility for their choices and decisions.

I'm not a fan of this kind of civil disobedience especially since one of the riders almost ran me over as I crossed the street.

This would have been an interesting thing to see, that's for sure. Some of the comments I've read on many of the cross posts state that the drivers and auto people felt more alienated by this type of protest. I don't know if I agree, but there is a point in the video where you can see there isn't much traffic during the exchange and drivers give lots of clearance to the riders.

As a motorcyclist, it was always dangerous when I split lanes. People sticking their arms out, sometimes in traffic actually opening doors to pour out cold coffee. California allows for lane splitting, but many states like NJ/NY do not.

The video doesn't do it much justice



Crimanimalz information   click to show 
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Old 05-15-2008, 03:30 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Strangely enough, I actually know a couple of these cats from work. There is a lot of (and increasing) bike activism here in LA, and I'm getting the impression that the scene has gained a lot of momentum in the last 5-7 years.

In a way it makes sense -- LA is largely flat and the weather is temperate with minimal rain. It ought to be the perfect bicycling city, but there just aren't a critical mass of riders to change the culture and care of drivers.

I biked to school all of last semester, and I'm trying to take advantage of a schedule change to include work in that routine as well. Part of that is my desire to exercise more, part is my hatred for having to drive everywhere and feeling like a slave to the expenses of my car (NYC for 8 years, what can I say?), and part of it is pressure from our $4+ gas prices.

I don't particularly think that biking on the freeway is safe or friendly, but I'm sure a few drivers had a momentary pause when they read the overpass sign (Ride a Bike, You'd Be Home By Now) while being passed by 45 cyclists and rollerbladers. Also note that it is now Bike to Work Week.
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Old 05-15-2008, 04:02 PM   #3 (permalink)
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There is a lot of bike activism going on in Toronto as well. While I am all for bike advocacy, I am not sure that this sort of protest has any effect on the system.

That said, there has been a strong push to open more bike lanes in the city and make cycling safer. Having been a bike courier and bike commuter I can attest that the Toronto streets can be, at times, quite unsafe.

The main things I would like to see is a more concerted effort on the part of city council to have a cycling policy (in the same way they have one for cars) that aims to create better signage, more bike routes and lanes and a strong campaign for both cyclist and driver education (let's face it, it is frequently the cyclists that are terrors on the road - not stopping for red lights or stop signs, not shoulder checking, etc.). People need to be better aware of the rules of the road and how they apply.

On a side note: there doesn't appear to be any thinking of this sort in my current city of residence.
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Old 05-15-2008, 04:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Having just come back from a bike ride, I think that the government should do more to promote biking. They need nice clear shots to downtown on trails that would entice people to ride more often. And perhaps even bike paths beside other heavily traveled roads. I know that if I did not have to ride on the road with cars I would take my bike many more places, I would probably never drive to a friends house again.
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Old 05-15-2008, 05:57 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cynthetiq
They were really upset that they were arrested and "singled" out from the rest of the group. They were also upset they missed a number of other activities and that they had to spend hours in a holding facility that was a garage so sitting on the floor was not pleasant.

I believe they got what was to be expected, and a little extra. If they weren't protesting they wouldn't have lost 72 hours. A little responsibility for their choices and decisions.

I'm not a fan of this kind of civil disobedience especially since one of the riders almost ran me over as I crossed the street.

If I were in LA or NYC, I would have joined them. Riding in gridlock traffic on a shoulder can't be that unsafe.

And I wish that Americans would realize that there should be more massive protests if the system isn't setup or working correctly. I'm not saying that bike riding should make 1 million people take to the streets, but they protest all the time in other countries and it can be effective.

And 72 hours is excessive for people that didn't have charges brought against them with evidence.
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Old 05-15-2008, 07:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I think the timing is good, as lots of my co-workers are realizing that with the current gas prices and insurance rates, their cars own them. Many of them are looking into mass transit passes and such to avoid driving their commutes.

I guess what I'm saying is that this week isn't like any other week. People are starting to look for alternatives. $4+ gasoline appears to be the breaking point for those on tighter budgets. So it's a great time to be reminded that there are other ways to live in a city.
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Old 05-15-2008, 07:16 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ASU2003
If I were in LA or NYC, I would have joined them. Riding in gridlock traffic on a shoulder can't be that unsafe.

And I wish that Americans would realize that there should be more massive protests if the system isn't setup or working correctly. I'm not saying that bike riding should make 1 million people take to the streets, but they protest all the time in other countries and it can be effective.

And 72 hours is excessive for people that didn't have charges brought against them with evidence.
72 hours does seem excessive with no charges filed. All they did was ride a bicycle on the shoulder?

I would ride a bike to work every day, but with the heat and no showers at work, it's not an option. That said, I ride home every day from work along a 4 lane highway with a small shoulder and a 65 mph speed limit. The noise is awful. (I'm dropped off with my bike every morning).
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Old 05-15-2008, 07:18 PM   #8 (permalink)
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the 405 thru bellevue looks way worst than that, as a result of merging like 6 lanes in to 2 at one point, it's retarded. Problem is, My 405 commute back in the day was 20 miles each way, and at worst, an hour long. I couldn't see myself doing that on a bike without being in much better shape than I am currently
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Old 05-15-2008, 08:36 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sapiens
72 hours does seem excessive with no charges filed. All they did was ride a bicycle on the shoulder?

I would ride a bike to work every day, but with the heat and no showers at work, it's not an option. That said, I ride home every day from work along a 4 lane highway with a small shoulder and a 65 mph speed limit. The noise is awful. (I'm dropped off with my bike every morning).
no all they did was obstruct traffic in NYC. The people I know were participating in Critical Mass in NYC during the RNC2004, after they were denied permits to assemble as they would disrupt traffic. Once the ride started, the police arrested a number of people...

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View: 264 arrested in NYC bicycle protest
Source: CNN
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264 arrested in NYC bicycle protest
264 arrested in NYC bicycle protest
From Jonathan Wald

NEW YORK (CNN) -- In the first major clampdown on protesters before the Republican National Convention, New York police arrested 264 people Friday night during a mass demonstration.

About 5,000 cyclists gathered in Union Square Park at 6 p.m. for "Critical Mass," a monthly bike ride around Manhattan, sponsored by environmental group "Times Up!"

Police started making arrests at around 8:30 p.m. in several locations along the bike route, including Madison Square Garden -- the venue for the Republican National Convention. (Special Report: America Votes 2004, the Republican convention)

The cyclists caused "massive disruptions including of people trying to get to the hospital and so we took appropriate action," said NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Public Information, Paul Browne.(Protesters use tech to help organize)

Cyclists said the bike ride was peaceful and the police acted unreasonably.

"It was a very peaceful, friendly occasion, like a parade," said one of the cyclists, Ellie Maxwell.

"Everyone was riding along when police suddenly penned us in and started picking people off," Maxwell said.

"The police actually caused more disruptions than the cyclists because they blocked off roads -- at one point for as long as an hour and a half -- whereas the cyclists were always moving."

Most of those arrested were taken for processing to Pier 57 and will be charged with disorderly conduct, an NYPD spokesman said.

The three-story, block-long pier has been converted to a holding pen especially for those protesting the convention so that city precincts will not be overrun by waves of arrests.

The pier can hold 1,000 people and will remain in operation until the end of the U.S. Tennis Open.

Police distributed flyers at the start of the ride in Union Square warning that anyone breaking traffic laws could be subject to arrest.

The monthly bike ride drew thousands more than usual due to the number of people who wanted to protest against the convention.

"Critical Mass" takes place on the last Friday of every month to promote the interests of bicyclists.

According to its Web site, "Critical Mass's aim is to make people take notice of cyclists as road users."

"Although some obstruction of 'normal' traffic occurs," says the Web site, "we are only seeking to raise the profile of cycling, and put cycling and transport issues on the agenda so that they will not be ignored."

An estimated 250,000 protesters are expected to march from Union Square on Sunday past Madison Square Garden.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ASU2003
If I were in LA or NYC, I would have joined them. Riding in gridlock traffic on a shoulder can't be that unsafe.

And I wish that Americans would realize that there should be more massive protests if the system isn't setup or working correctly. I'm not saying that bike riding should make 1 million people take to the streets, but they protest all the time in other countries and it can be effective.

And 72 hours is excessive for people that didn't have charges brought against them with evidence.
maybe that's the case. You are allowed to try if you like, please don't whine or complain if you do get injured in some manner.

Heck, walking on the sidewalks in NYC is dangerous enough with taxi cabs having jumped curbs and decapitated pedestrians.
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Last edited by Cynthetiq; 05-15-2008 at 08:37 PM.. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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Old 05-16-2008, 12:09 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I would travel by bike all the time, but I cannot because of the traffic in the city. It just does not feel safe when cars rush past you, just centimeters away

Hope the gas prices go up so much that everybody sells their cars and buys bikes. But by that time the way to travel will be the last of our worries
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