FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 10, 2012
Commemorative bike ride in conjunction with Critical Mass retracing the path of direct action bike rides that defeated a bike ban in the heart of Manhattan 25 years ago, followed by a movie screening; in Cooper Union’s Great Hall of Fifth, Park, & Madison, a film about the original Bicycle Uprising.
September 28, 2012
6:30 pm, Bike ride, SE Corner of Houston Street & 6th Ave
9:00 pm, Movie, discussion & music, Cooper Union Great Hall; Screening of Fifth, Park & Madison, a film about the original uprising, followed by live music & a discussion of grassroots cycling activism then & now
New York, NY – On September 28th 2012, the 25th anniversary of the 1987 Bicycle Uprising and the 20th Anniversary of the first Critical Mass , cyclists will join Time’s Up! & past T.A. President , Charles Komanoff to retrace the direct action ride used to defeat a ban on bicycling in NYC 25 years ago.
On July 22, 1987, Mayor Koch stood on the steps of City Hall flanked by his police and transportation commissioners and declared that bicycling would be banned on Fifth, Park, and Madison Avenues from 31st to 59th Streets, Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm, starting in September. This was viewed as an attack on Bicycle Messengers, who many press outlets blamed for the dangerous and congested streets of NYC even though the actual cause of danger and congestion in our city’s streets was automobiles.
“This treatment of one subgroup of cyclist struck a nerve among many others – from activists to roadies to commuters – and brought together the cycling community in a spirit of direct action that helped usher in an era of victories for a livable city,” said Keegan Stephan, spokesperson for Time’s Up!, direct action environmental group & co-organizer of the anniversary celebration.
“That spirit of direct action rose, as it always does, from the streets,” noted Steve Athineos, a bike messenger who helped organize the twice-weekly direct action bike rides that helped defeat the ban.
According to Charles Komanoff, former president of Transportation Alternatives and co-organizer of the September 28th Event , “Masses of cyclists, sometimes half a thousand and occasionally more, spread across Sixth Avenue and paraded the three miles from Houston Street to Central Park South. Our stately pace, perhaps 5mph, was slow enough that passersby could look past our bikes and see our bodies and faces. Walkers and joggers could join our ranks. We were slow enough that we could and did stop at red lights. Letting foot and auto traffic cross at the green was a stroke of genius. It certified cycling as city-friendly.”
After the ban was defeated, the newly galvanized cycling community went on to win important victories for livable streets: full-time access to River Road in New Jersey; legal access to the south path of the George Washington Bridge; a shift in public opinion that clean air should be a priority in NYC transportation planning; and re-establishment of the permanent bike lane over the Queensboro Bridge.
Hundreds of cyclists will join together to celebrate this important moment in cycling history, and the 20th Anniversary of the first Critical Mass Ride, which was born out of the bike ban protests and continues to this day, in hundreds of countries and thousands cities across the world, the last Friday of every month.
CLICK HERE for more information on the Battle of the Bike Ban
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TIME’S UP! is a non-profit environmental group that has been using educational outreach and direct action for 25 years to promote a more sustainable, less toxic city.