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.

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