Critical Mass London 27 August 2016

Sunny and dry, a 1000 or more attended.

Started on schedule. A conventional loop around the roundabout. North, through the tunnel, up kingsway. Keeping together, outraging the walkers wishing to cross on green, heading north, Russell Square, etc, turning left onto Euston road. Proceeding to Marylebone Road, second tunnel – keeping on Marylebone to turn off towards Edgware Road, but cutting over to Sussex Gardens, then pissing through the back streets to emerge on Bayswater Road to proceed to Kensington Palace Gardens.

Because the roads were wide this wasn’t a problem – but cars were cutting through, getting corked across the path of mass as an emergency leading to small gaps which the mass had to go through – splitting the ride outwards. Which made corking more difficult.

Once through the private road, the free riders were left behind in Kensington Palace Gardens. But they pushed forwards back to the front, and managed to divert the mass backwards. We’d gone down Kensington High Street, turning south on Queen’s Gate, Onslow Gardens to head back east on Fulham Road.

Then our friends pulled us down the narrow alley of Pelham Street, the clogged alleyway of Old Brompton Road and back north on Queensgate.

And did they cork on Cromwell Road? no. They pushed through blindly, leaving the whole straggling mess of the mass in danger and burdening others to pointless arguments.

Which was the point I lost patience at. There was a lot of drivel chat at the front on the “meaning of the mass”, but contributing to safety was less important than the ego boost of being “the leader”. Which is hypocritical, selfish and a total bore.

I think the mass gave up from this bore fest in Hyde Park, well, what remained of it after this missengineered mess of a mass.

3 thoughts on “Critical Mass London 27 August 2016

  1. All comments in one thread in one, all from the list:

    What grumpy report, last night was fantastic!
    It could be grumpier. I could mention the kids doing wheelies the whole time. The people with masks starting fights.

    What I thought was so bad was how the problems were instigated by experienced people in the mass, who were deliberately acting as “leaders” and burdening other people with their mess. That burden made my life a pain. I had to cork 10 times in difficult places because of their selfishness.

    The difference between me and these “leaders” was that I wasn’t drunk or stoned. Not only were they breaking the spirit of the mass through their self-centered behaviour but they were hurting everyone else.

    But yes. If you ignored all social responsibility and got wasted – then you would have a fantastic time. But that’s London in 2016, isn’t it? Let’s just think about ourselves. Screw waiting for the slower riders. Forget trying to cork responsibly, safely and legally. Forget trying to control criminal elements. Forget the rules about not leading. Let’s just get wasted! Party! If people get beaten up, or hurt or lost – fuck em. Afterall – they are not me. And this world is all about me, me, me, me, me.

    I think you need to take a break from CM, it’s always a mixed bag due to the nature of the event. If you don’t have the patience to deal with the randomness then best to give it a miss. Was neither drunk or stoned, just chilling and enjoying the chaos of the kids doing wheelies and the bemusement of Londoners. I had not been on a mass since 2009 because I found it irritating for similar reasons to your grumps. It was lovely after a long break. Only suggesting a break because it worked for me.
    Nothing derogatory is intended.

  2. All comments in one thread in one, all from the list:

    I sympathise with a lot of that, but actually really enjoyed the ride. I wasn’t keen on going down Kensington Gardens because actually those security guards at the ends are really friendly to cyclists, whatever the residents of the mansions are like. But it was OK.

    Right at the start I blocked as the mass came out, with some stroppy woman saying “what if an ambulance came”, then just around on the bridge that same thing happened, an ambulance came along, 1000 cyclists moved over, only for some berk in a black saloon to pull into that gap and block the way of the ambulance. Classic.

    While being unhappy with the intemperate tone in some earlier messages, I too
    (as someone on the mass pretty frequently for over 20 years) get a bit peeved
    at the unthinking selfishness of some of the riders – which I feel is a bit
    commoner nowadays.

    Yes, some of the young performers who were at the front for most of the time
    certainly didn’t show any consideration for safe behaviour, or setting a
    sensible pace – but without wider (self-)awareness it’s hard to know how to
    cope with problems on occasions when the mass is very large and has lots of
    non-regulars on it … precisely because of its genuinely spontaneous and
    non-hierarchical nature (which is a lot of what’s so great about it).

    In the past, regulars sometimes ran off leaflets to give out before the
    start, encouraging sensible behaviour – including pace, corking, being nice
    to pedestrians, etc. Maybe those able to could do that sometime?

    On the subjects of both Kensington Palace Gardens, and “leadership”… I
    spoke to a number of people before the off, and discovered that quite a few
    were keen to go there this month, on account of the KPG inhabitants’ snooty
    and hysterical rejection of any encouragement for cyclists to use what would
    be a very helpful, quiet north-south link.

    I mentioned the idea on this list the other day, in the light of the piece in
    the Evening Standard, and I gather that the idea was also mentioned on a
    Facebook page that deals with London CM. (I’m not a member of that rather
    unpleasant private club called Facebook, for many reasons, so can’t vouch
    for what was or wasn’t there.) So I was pleased to find a number of people
    interested in heading in that direction.

    On the ride itself, I was only near the front on a couple of occasions, and
    certainly did, then, encourage the ride in the KPG direction as much as I
    could (which, CM being CM, wasn’t much, of course!). The fact that we did
    end up there seems proof that quite a few people were keen on the idea; I’ve
    no idea whether it was to any degree because of the wheelie-merchants at the
    front, or despite them. I wouldn’t be unhappy with the ride going there
    again sometimes, to encourage the billionaires who live there to experience
    the joys of the dreaded plebeian bicycle.

    More on the route, for the record, to add to what was very briefly mentioned

    Yes – north over Waterloo Bridge, straight up via Holborn station to Euston,
    and then Euston Road and Marylebone Road (via the Euston Underpass, which I
    think is a fairly rare thing for the ride to do).

    [An aside – there are reasons why, unlike the Euston Underpass, the one north
    from Waterloo Bridge has a ban on bikes. The blind bends and narrowness of
    the tunnel are seriously dangerous on a bike. Obviously, if the mass uses
    it, then it blocks motor vehicles for a while, and all is OK at first. But
    _please_, if the mass does go through there, can a few people at the back
    _not_ go down the tunnel, but wait at the entrance to hold back motor
    vehicles for a couple of minutes to let the other riders clear the tunnel
    safely before anything else rattles through (and then catch up by going
    above ground).]

    Back to the route – the road we turned down just before the Marylebone
    flyover was Old Marylebone Road. But rather than carry straight on down
    Sussex Gardens to meet up with Bayswater Road at the Lancaster Gate
    (soon-not-to-be) one-way system, people headed left (Sussex Place?) and
    wiggled southwards to meet Bayswater Road a couple of blocks east of
    Lancaster Gate.

    Then, although there were one or two almost-right-turns, we ended up charging
    the whole way down Bayswater Road (a longer distance than I’d conceptualised
    it as), to turn south into that private road some of us were hoping we’d get
    to, just before Notting Hill Gate.

    After a bit of friendly partying with the armed embassy guards [there ate
    several embassies on that road as well as billionaire mansions and a
    cut-through to Kensington Palace], we turned left as we left KPG; and then
    right down Queens Gate; straight on down across Cromwell Road and Old
    Brompton Road; and left along Fulham Road.

    Then people took a sharp left up Pelham Street, back west-ish towards South
    Ken underground. (Passing, on the left just after turning into Pelham
    Street, what looks as though it could be an ancient – unused for generations
    – tram shed: anyone know more about that building?)

    Then out of town along Old Brompton Road to complete a loop to Queens Gate;
    right (back north); then right at the top, past the Albert Hall and on east.
    I can’t remember an occasion when I felt so safe on a bike at that
    complicated Knightsbridge station junction. Also, there, thinking of earlier
    references to people being pissed and stoned – yes, not helpful on a bike in
    London – I saw the most artistically created Camberwell Carrot I’ve seen in
    production for quite a while. [Forgive the cultural reference.]

    Then, not down the underpass to Piccadilly (!) but up to Hyde Park Corner,
    and left into the park. Then back west in the park to try out the new
    segregated cycle route that goes over the western end of The Serpentine.
    During the foray into Hyde Park, my deadlines beckoned (it being after 9pm),
    and I left the ride and headed off. So I also can’t report on whatever route
    there was thereafter … or maybe everyone just jumped into The Serpentine
    and called it a night?? (I’d have been tempted…)

    Perhaps someone else can add more route info?

    I kept an eye on glympse for the ride position – I think it terminated at the Serpentine. pre 2100 is super early to terminate. But, checking from a coffee shop on Gloucester Road, it hadn’t moved by 2130.

    I also thought the black car on Waterloo Bridge was being deliberately difficult. I asked him and he said “there was nowhere to go to”. It’s possible that he was freaked out, but I think he was playing games. In any case, he had his family with him and saw no reason for confrontation. Sometimes people do get worried about unusual situations, people do get nervous.

    I agree with Albert, we really do need to have a social conscience. An anarchical group has a responsibility to be moral, while also having fun. We should endeavour to be as kind and humane as possible. Not simply by politeness, for power and appearance. But in truth of kindness.

    We are not causing a disruption. Cars are. Cars clog the streets. And I really don’t believe we cause any real delays to the customary friday night traffic jams. As long as we are sensible and considerate we are an example of goodness.

    The same might be true of newbies/ occasional drunks finding themselves
    at the front of the mass, blissfully unaware of the bigger picture but
    somehow feeling obliged to keep doing it? Has anyone actually tried
    asking them to stop being dicks—bearing in mind that if they are
    younger than Albert, or certainly you and I, they probably won’t have
    any concept that there is an alternative to `me, me, me’ and you will
    end up talking at cross purposes? If they are another group of agents
    provocateur, this will most likely become apparent only once we actually
    start talking to them…

    > I agree with Albert, we really do need to have a social conscience. An
    > anarchical group has a responsibility to be moral, while also having
    > fun. We should endeavour to be as kind and humane as possible. Not
    > simply by politeness, for power and appearance. But in truth of
    > kindness.

    It would be nice if thoughtful anarchists—this list surely being
    preeminently qualified in that respect—could come up with a widely
    understood and practised method for starting a new `front’ just behind
    an overly impatient existing one and let them continue with their race
    on their own. If we could do this, there is no reason to suppose that
    the body of the mass wouldn’t end up at the same destination a minute or
    three behind them. Thoughts/ suggestions/ experience from elsewhere?

    > We are not causing a disruption. Cars are. Cars clog the streets. And
    > I really don’t believe we cause any real delays to the customary
    > friday night traffic jams. As long as we are sensible and considerate
    > we are an example of goodness.

    Yes. But for the sake of completeness, there is often also a group of
    [usually] stoners straggling right at the back trying to slow the mass
    down from there, i.e. the opposite of the front. It’s no wonder that
    the middle snaps! I have taken to recognising them and ceasing my
    corking before they arrive.


  3. **ADMIN: Can we post about this action on the Home Page? Many thanks x**

    Inviting all of the Critical Massive to the airport critical mass on Saturday October 1st! Yes that’s right, the day after critical mass London around lunchtime, 470 people have already signed up to cause a spot of trouble to the environmental menace that is the aviation industry! Sign up at for updates of precise time and location to meet.

    We will protest the governments plans for major airport expansion at City and Heathrow, demanding that frequent flyers be taxed instead of rewarded, to radically reduce the aviation industry’s emissions to levels compatible with a sustainable future.

    We will be a banner-flying loud carnival of bikes and sound systems visiting two places related to the injustices around aviation, and also causing a bit of mischeif which I’m not permitted to share online… sign up and stay tuned!

    See what other recent direct action has been like:

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