The HEADLINE NEWS is that this month’s Critical Mass was back to being a mass again – for the first time in 4 months – ie there were enough people to take over roadspace. I counted 60 or more at an early stage (several times as many as the May ride) – OK, very poor for the season and the weather, but given the untruths widely spread on a private (but widely read) website recently, falsely suggesting there weren’t London CMs at the moment, then not too bad at all. We’re (properly) back!
So – good news that numbers are bouncing back after a few VERY thin months; but the bad news is that we didn’t leave until around 7.30! It would only take a few people to be committed to getting going earlier for us to have a prompter start – though if the one main sound system is determined not to leave, it’s difficult…
Anyway, I’d got to the meeting point soon after 6, spotted no-one obvious amongst the numerous people wandering and drinking in the area (there were cyclists, but no-one I recognised, nor who were “obviously” CMers). I settled down in the sunshine to read.
Before I knew it, it was turned 7, and – as if by magic – people started to talk to one another and identify themselves as CMers. There was a lot of faffing around trying to make sure that everyone who was “with us” was with us; we could have at least left close to 7pm (pretty much everyone who rode was there by then) … but we didn’t.
The ride went up to the roundabout, along York Road, over Westminster Bridge, and along the bike lane by Parliament Sq. All very friendly and jolly; quite a mix of people including different ages, including a family of cycling youngsters. Then on towards St James’s Park, and a right up Horseguards Road.
At the Mall end there was an incident where some “plainclothes” police cars had stopped some other car, and one of the police there objected to someone weaving around them on a bike. But it didn’t amount to much.
Then left up the Mall, up Constitution Hill on the right of the Palace (over the whole width of the road for a bit), over Hyde Park Corner roundabout, and into Hyde Park. After a delay, people ended up cycling up the cycle route northbound inside the park, parallel to Park Lane. Near Speakers’ Corner people stopped to look at a couple of party-ish gatherings just inside the park. Clearly this was an appealing idea to many on the mass, since a lot of the ride headed off to claim its own patch of grass and people sat down, enjoying the sound system and the weather. (A threat of a storm, as we set off, came to nothing.)
I wasn’t in the mood to sit around and not go anywhere for any length of time, so after a bit I made my excuses and left. Perhaps someone else can let us know what happened subsequently.
Overall, it’s good that the mass is properly and recognisably back after some slack months – though, NB, it never completely went away! I do hope that larger numbers next month will coincide with a big enough bunch deciding to leave asap after 6.30; and if some people get left behind on the South Bank, well… It wouldn’t take many people to be seen to be firmly setting off for most people to join in.
Also, in recognition of the fact that some CMers are there for the first time, and other cyclists are encountered too, some leaflets about CM had been produced; and a few were handed out. (Freelance leaflets used to be common years back, but I think this might be the first time in ages.)
Perhaps it will inspire others to print something similar too. (Though these ones weren’t used up, so more of these might appear next month.)
List info: http://lists.riseup.net/www/info/cm-london