Thursday, November 1, 2007

Two-Wheeled Freedom

Posted By on Thu, Nov 1, 2007 at 8:59 AM

I joined the Tuesday Community Bike Ride the night before last.

Last week, the ride was escorted and harassed by a large contingent of motorcycle cops trying to keep a ride of 300 people as far to the right on the road as possible (which was impossible to do without scaring riders). Some people were riding with their kids and worried for their safety.

Evidently, the police may have been mistaken in producing such force and thought the community ride was a Critical Mass ride (which took place last Friday with about 100 riders).

Organizers of the community ride want people to know: They are not Critical Mass, but they have a huge following that started from about five guys doing night rides in July; it's now up to 300 men and women. To them, it's about the ride, the community they've developed and the freedom to explore the city together.

I interviewed someone before the ride who told me he thinks almost everything could be solved by getting on a bike. As I peddled along, I thought of us as pueblo fireflys taking over the neighborhoods. I thought of his words, and that perhaps he is right. It's simple, but I think the small band of bike brothers who started the community ride could be the best-kept secret anarchists in the city (even if they do not want to be associated with Critical Mass).

Last night, after the guys worked on negotiations with the police, the TPD representation was far less-- about 8-10 bike cops, and only four motorcycle cops, who decided to focus on stopping traffic at intersections.

The bike cops mostly stayed at the end, so I had some company. They chatted with riders, and said they felt they were needed to protect riders from the cars. An organizer told them the 300 people the week before was the norm, and they had taken care of each other just fine.

There were 232 people last night. If you didn't show up last night because of the police the week before, organizers want you to know: Come back. Cops and bikers are talking.

And if you haven't done the ride, join me. I'm going to do this again. People are nice. Some bring good tunes from players tied on their bikes or backpacks. Others have good stories. And you'll love how it feels to be a firefly.

The group meets at 8 p.m. at the flag pole past the UA Main Gate near Old Main every Tuesday night. I heard they even take suggestions for routes.