Sunday 14th April 2024 – Critical Mass 30th Anniversary Ride

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SUNDAY 14TH APRIL 2024

12pm : meet at Southbank

1pm : Ride

3pm : Picnic / After Party (bring food and a lock)

1994 saw jungle music move from the underground into mainstream consciousness, the hated Public Order Act was passed at the end of the year, and the Tories were clinging on to power after a disastrous 14 years in government, hollowing out public services and destroying the social fabric of the country. During this era, Critical Mass London had its genesis on the 15th of April 1994, as the CHARM ride, occupying space around dangerous roundabouts in central London. It then morphed into the Critical Mass ride, mirroring the “last Friday of the month” occurrence from cities in the US.

It has been through thick and thin, had its highs and lows, been subject to harassment and surveillance, mass arrests and prosecutions, and legal attempts to shut it down. But still it endures, every month without fail, an unbroken line for three decades. It celebrates the diversity of cycling in this city, to temporarily re-occupy our city streets which have been near monopolised by hyper-capitalist car fetishism. It is a living, breathing example of an anti-authoritarian, non-hierarchical, structureless event that has seen so many other movements and organisations come and go.

And what better way to celebrate THIRTY YEARS of this than a huge coming together of all participants, past and present, young and old, all genders, all colours.

Let’s celebrate this milestone! This birthday meetup will allow us to ride, laugh and dance together, to reminisce about the past, and think about the future.

If you have friends who used to come, please let them know! If you know other riders who’ve never been before, invite them! If you are still connected to networks from the past, please spread the word! If you have any ideas that you think will make this party even better, then just do it!

Q: Why not have it on Monday 15th (the exact 30 year anniversary), or Friday 26th April? Many riders have left the city over the years, or find it difficult to come out at night with caring responsibilities, or just with age! People from other CMs across the UK have also indicated their interest to visit. A Sunday afternoon ride allows more people to travel to London, and makes meeting up far easier. It also facilitates us all staying together for a party afterwards! But if you want to have another birthday party ride, on either or both of those other evenings, please do!

SEE YOU ON THE 14th OF APRIL 2024 AT 12pm ON THE SOUTHBANK!

Jan 2024

January’s ride was joined by some families carrying Palestine flags, and the kids were really happy to see both a penny farthing and a tall bike riding alongside them. There was a good turnout on a cold but dry night.

The ride went across Waterloo Bridge first, and was being guided by some activists from Australia, who wanted to stop outside the Australian embassy near Somerset House on the northern side of the bridge. The ride happened to coincide with the date of Australia Day. The road in front of the embassy was peacefully occupied for a while, as banners were unfurled in front of the main embassy door saying “no pride in genocide” and “treaty now”. Several cyclists carried the Aboriginal flag on their bikes.

The ride then went east towards the City, looped around a bit, and then crossed back south over London bridge, turning left onto Tooley Street towards Tower Bridge.

At this point the ride stopped for quite a while, and a fair proportion of the riders branched off home, or went to Potters Fields on the river, or went to Hop Kingdom to get a beer.

For the last 3 or more years, small groups of phone thieves wearing full face masks have used Critical Mass as cover, to steal phones from pedestrians as the ride passes by them. Different approaches and attempts have been made to address this problem (see the attached leaflet). Earlier on the ride, this same group had been pointing at pedestrians with phones and it appeared they were looking for opportunities to do a snatch.

At Tower Bridge, some riders in full face masks were trying to get into the small Sainburys and were causing trouble at the door. They were approached by some regular CM riders and asked to leave the ride if they were just here to steal phones. A heated discussion with two individuals in facemasks continued for about ten minutes, but everyone stayed reasonably calm, without wanting to escalate. The reduced ride restarted then and headed south, and the small group in facemasks then left at Elephant and Castle.

The ride then looped back to the Southbank where it dispersed. This group of phone thieves did not reappear on the February ride.