As per usual, a hundred or so bikes gathered last night in Union Square for Critical Mass, the solidaristic bike ride that takes over streets in cities all over the country once a month. This time, though, at least half of the riders seemed only vaguely…human.
A plunger, a Joker, a husky dog, and all manner of otherwise outlandishly dressed cyclists made for a freakish parade as they flooded uptown on Park Avenue and then back on Broadway, through Times Square, into the East Village, and over the Williamsburg bridge to Brooklyn. Passersby stood dumbfounded on the sidewalks, not sure what to make of the whooping and cheering peloton.
The idea of Critical Mass is to have enough riders that you can shut down the streets, ignoring stoplights and stopping traffic for as long as it takes for the slow-moving herd to roll through. It didn’t always work that way, as we had to filter in between cars on the narrower streets. And this time, the political content of the event was blunted somewhat by its absurdity of watching costumed hipsters trying to manage their fixie hipster bikes. Chants of “Whose streets? Our streets!” got muddied with cries of “Ice cream!”, and the night dissolved in a phantasm.
More pictures after the jump. – LBD