Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Critical Mass: officially legal!

Three years back, at a London Critical Mass which I attended, the Met gave out some nasty little leaflets informing us that what we were doing was illegal. Apparently, Critical Mass constituted a procession, and since the organisers didn't inform the police of the approximate number of attendees and the route the procession was going to take, we were doing something illegal. Now, this was pretty flawed logic in the first place. In point of fact, if they were right, only the organisers were doing something illegal. The fact that CM has no organisers and no route had apparently also passed the author of the leaflet by.

Still, it made us nervous. There have been too many cases of conflicts between the police and the Mass. New York has a particularly nasty record, including a couple of cases of mass arrests. We didn't want to see our fun and positive ride turned into a tense standoff with police. I'd have been tempted to leave their claims unanswered to underline their stupidity, but somebody stepped up to the mark and a friendly action commenced.

Friendly actions are meant to prove a point of law one way or another amicably and without damages. The judgement is by long custom considered final. The judgement came down in our favour - it was a procession, but it had been running so long that it was now customary. The Met threw their toys out of the pram, hired the best silk money can buy, and appealed. This was, to say the least, rather unsporting.

Now, years later, we have an even better judgement in our favour. The House of Lords have handed down a judgement that not only is the London mass customary, but anybody starting a similar event around the country is acting within the law. The Met were slapped for trying to force a 'draconian' reading onto an old law.

I'll be raising a glass on Friday evening :D

BBC Article
Full judgement

Thursday, 20 November 2008

November Ride Report

November was the first ride to start fully in the dark and numbers looked good.

The soundsystem was already there. A kids trailer packed with speakers. Then the second soundsystem turned up. It was party time......

We headed out and over the flyover to Duke Street. People really noticed us, as the music filled the streets. We successfully created a small, momentary space on a Liverpool road, which was sociable, safe for cyclists and carfree.

On duke street a CCTV van stopped for a gander as we went past, bemused as to whether we were doing anything wrong. Shortly after, the lead sounsystem suffered a Justin Timberlake moment, but the mass pulled together and saw it through. It did however get a passing bus driver dancing in his cab, opening his doors to join in.

Also there was a guy on a wobble bike. This bike hinges in the normal way with the forks, but has a 2nd hinge underthe seat. This leads to some amazing manouvres.

After the mass we stood around and chatted, tried to ride the wobble bike (with varied success), and compared soudsystem specs. Many headed of to the Punk fundraiser at the social centre.

Next Mass is on Friday December 12th, usual place and time. It's the critmass edition, everyone must bring some tinsle and I'm sure there'll be many flasks of mulled wine around.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Critical Mass Tomorrow!

Well, after a lot of time and effort, the new sound system is built. She's a beauty: the trailer base is built entirely out of reclaimed materials and using only human-powered tools. The sound system itself is made from Doug's cabs and the battery and amp from Matt's hifi trailer. We got her working for the first time in the Next to Nowhere social centre a couple of weeks ago, and after a couple of teething problems with the towing arm she's all sorted. We took her for a ride round the park the other evening, to the bemusement of the taxi drivers and joggers, but we haven't tested her in earnest in the city centre.

Bring lights and wrap up warm, and we'll have a party on wheels!