CM ended at Stratford, but for some it is still carrying on. Hundreds kettled, arrested on Bow Flyover and High Street Stratford. Multiple news sources carry the information

Pictures of the seized bikes

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dgeezer/7658588670/

http://ufohunterorguk.com/2012/07/27/mass-arrests-as-london-police-attack-critical-mass-cycle-ride-during-olympic-ceremony-criticalmass-pictures/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imoSpvfJz_A

http://www.itv.com/news/story/2012-07-27/arrests-after-critical-mass-cycle-ride-in-london-near-olympic-stadium-stratdford-and-waterloo-bridge/

https://twitter.com/indyrikki/status/228970065918304257/photo/1

Whoa. So, that's how the night ended...

As we arrived there was a police landrover, 20 bike police and half a dozen photographers on the bridge above us. They handed out leaflets telling us under section 12(3) Public Order Act 1986 we could not go north of the river.

Of course, this was bogus - this law specifically doesn't apply to us under the High Court judgement of 2008...

Well, there was grumbling...some of the riders were immediately put off and didn't participate. Others were participating because they knew the police were going to be there.

So, we headed up to Waterloo Roundabout. 100 or so headed north with police outriders to be stopped on Waterloo bridge. Others circled the bridge at bit. The cyclists at the back turned East along Stamford Street - they took the police outriders at the back. Maybe 200, 300, 400 went that way with the police outriders at the back.

Meanwhile about 1000 riders headed west down York Road - Westminster Bridge Road - Lower Marsh - The Cut and then upto BlackFriars Bridge.

There was one police van of South Yorkshire Police. They said we couldn't come north. The bloke at the front asked him why not, copper answered "no cycling in London tonight" to which our friend said "well, I'm off to get a Latte in the West End, what of it" or words to that effect. The courageous officer understood the law immediately and they took no umbrage to the mass walking their bikes through.

So, we had no police with us. We continued up Farringdon and picked up one police van. There was discussion on where to go here and there. But as the mass turned east onto Clerkenwell we began to lose people behind. The mass was fragmenting here, there and everywhere.

Old Street, Shoreditch, Bethnal Green Road. The mass was getting strung out, but still like a thousand or so. Little groups were rejoining as other groups got lost.

At the end of Bethnal Green Road the heavens opened letting down fat gobs of cold rain. Cooler heads did not prevail.

The mass headed east again down as far as Wennington Green. There was a terrible logic to it. For a while things were fine, but there was this pressure towards Bow Roundabout.

Messages on this list would suggest a likely trap there. Who were these people pushing us along. Not allowing proper rest and catch up times? Not allowing decision making. Did I recognise them? No, not from Adam.

Luckily this technique split the mass. So did free thinkers who would turn and go where they damn well wished.

Going down Mile End, to Bow Road. Eek.

I wish the police hadn't said that nonsense, because if you tell the kind of people who go on Critical Mass that they can't do something - well - if you've got a shabby reason they're going to want to do it even more.

My group split off down a road the police said was a dead end. It wasn't. We went over the A12 into the Old Ford area. Which is like an industrial area. What it should be, but just over the canal you can see it, the stadium.

75 of us, we turned about and headed the way we came to encounter cyclists who had missed the kettle with police 'descending out of everyone' with van loads racing upwards.

It was curious. It was nine o'clock, still early, but we'd had no trouble, no police really. Just that one van like an ugly pet sheepdog.

The group I was in sort of scattered as the refugees told of their flight. But, weirdly, it felt like I was taking part in the Olympic experience.

The side of the Bow Flyover was clogged with local families, three deep on the side waiting for the fireworks. Police everywhere. Barricades, vans, what-have-you.

Working around the roundabout there were little groups of sight seers (many with bicycles) and headed down Stratford High Street. I'm not sure of the geography - but here, down by Stratford station were 50 of us or so sitting down by the side of the road.

Maybe 20 more scattered about outside of the kettle.

In the whole night we had not encountered one Zil lane until here - the very point they were arrested. Was that the cause? The traffic was proper chocka, so, maybe.

Talked to one fellow who's girlfriend was in the van behind. He said she'd been assaulted, knocked off her bike, hit in head I think. She was sitting in the police van behind. Charged with "obstructing the traffic" - which was weird vs. all the pedestrians on the flyover.

Apparently there were more on the flyover kettled in - but I didn't see it. The one's in Stratford was the fast riders.

A girl I spoke to said it was strange that her friend had been kettled because she was not a trouble maker and not in the front half.

As ever on CM, many people were just there for a bike ride and did not understand about the police presence. There was only a few leaflets, a car

raspy out an undecipherable loud hailer message. Many tourists just thought that this was a safe legal bike ride.

Another rider who has been in the front half confirmed that the slower riders over the Stratford Flyover had been caught and the front half hadn't.

Well, that was my ride.

There were so many fractured groups that it was a very varied ride. A very large ride too.

Consider - even the most lawful people sitting under Waterloo Bridge might want to go home to North London. So, here at the start we had this weird situation of cyclists fanning out to find a way home. A group of over a thousand cyclists all trying to work it out.

The group which headed east out of Waterloo Roundabout at the start had a rough time of it, because they were the group with the police. They got all the way to Tower Bridge apparently before heading back. It was at London Bridge in which they escaped being kettled because the barriers had to be removed for David Beckham. Apparently.

It did feel like we had been hijacked. Even the group which headed west at the start was forced back around. So.

Probably a good thing we didn't do the regular route, the Mall is all closed off anyway.

Next month can we have a 100% fun mass? Nothing but love.

Hicks.

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I have read various ride reports and clearly the Mass broke up into quite a few separate groups. A friend of mine was in a small group of about twenty who got lost for over an hour but eventually rejoined a larger group (later she ended up being kettled and arrested).

I crossed Blackfriars Bridge with just a few other bikes and eventually ran into a larger group that I think had crossed the same way earlier (though some of them may have used Southwark Bridge). We took what seemed like a reasonably direct route to the Old Street roundabout and then I remember passing BOXPARK on the right so we must have been going East on Bethnal Green Road.

I worked my way towards the front, staying near a longboard mounted soundsystem for a while. Up until now there had not been any concerted effort to stop us but as we got closer to the A12 that seemed to change. I think it was only by picking up the pace and making surprise turns at junctions that we avoided being penned in.

We made it to the A12 and crossed over it on Wick Lane but we were down to about 30 people when we stopped in Old Ford. We could see the stadium from there, only about 400m away. Someone went ahead and reported back that there were a lot of police round the corner and I didn't want to turn back or hang around waiting so me and a friend crossed back over the A12 on the footbridge and went exploring on our own. We ended up even closer to the stadium, at the end of Dace Road next to Swan Wharf. I could hear the drumming.

After that we went to Victoria Park and chilled out for a while before cycling back along the canals to Kings Cross. For me it was one of the best Masses I have been on but I feel sorry for everyone kettled and arrested.

Ian.

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So, the dust has *kind* of settled, here's my experiences on Friday.

I didn't get there till shortly before 7, such is the way I do things now, knowing there's lots of standing around. I saw the Barclays Bike stand nearby being emptied - normally its full of bikes, and the cynic in me thought this might have been under instruction from higher ups.... normally I stash the bike and get one out again as the mass is leaving (being charged per hour means this saves a quid or so)

Anyway, into the south bank 'complex', and I saw 5 or so police with bikes, which as most of us know, is pretty unusual. If there was a loudspeaker or police van above us, I didn't notice it. The 5 coppers weren't interacting with the riders, they were, IMHO, standing around looking a bit sheepish.

Now, I can't honestly say I wasn't prepared for some police...interaction. The taxi section 12 had been posted online earlier in the day, and we were expecting similar. But I came to ride, and felt entirely justified riding north of the river if we felt like it.

So a zip round waterloo roundabout and a bit of confusion as to whether or not we would, or could, cross Waterloo bridge. I didn't see the nature of the block there but a bunch of us headed West instead, circling round and hitting Blackfriars Bridge. I assume I was near the front at this point, I certainly didn't see the incident with the disabled guy, but we did see a police van on the bridge, and there were already reports that part of the mass had headed for London bridge so we headed that way rather than try to cross the bridge. We passed by southwark bridge, where there also seemed to be a small police presence and hit London Bridge.

There was already a lot of riders there and the bridge was blocked to northbound traffic; conversely, due to the mass being there, southbound traffic was also at a standstill (apparently including David Beckham, but I didn't notice this). As I approached the junction, I was asked by a police officer to dismount. I was a little ahead of the mass so seemingly wasn't with any other riders at this point. I questioned why, and he could give no answer, but I was a good boy and got off the bike. The police cordon on London bridge, looked, frankly, ridiculous. At least 3 vans, positioned across the northbound carriageway, it looked like something more reminiscent of a military checkpoint than traffic control. A line of officers on foot ahead of it also stopped any cyclists proceeding further.

I approached the line and asked why we couldn't pass. The officer, polite though he was, couldn't give an answer any more satisfactory than "We've been told to stop all cyclists". What if they weren't on CM? "We can't tell, so we have to stop all of you". What if I got off and walked across with my bike. "Not allowed". Tellingly, "what if I docked my hire bike, walked over, and got another bike out on the other side?" "That's fine, I guess." For the Met reading this, at no point did any officers mention Section 12, restrictions put on CM, or the possibility of arrest for cycling north of the river. The fact that the guy at London Bridge thought I was fine to cycle North of the river, as long as I didn't a bike through seems to directly convene it.

Anyway, a bit more bell ringing and little movement, and we set off towards Tower Bridge, realistically knowing there would probably be similar there. In truth, I wasn't sure. Had the Met REALLY gone to all the bother of stationing people on every single bridge in London merely to stop Critical Mass that evening? Maybe there were only a couple of vans and they were moving bridge to bridge. But no, we got there, big road block, nothing happening.

At this point, I felt the Met had beaten us; an efficient, effective control of choke points across the river seemed to have denied us our usually monthly ride. I was all for heading West, to try and outpace them to somewhere like Lambeth bridge, or even further upstream, so we could just get over the river, but the consensus was to head East. Not entirely sure why, I certainly wasn't going to try the Blackwall tunnel,and Rotherhithe is pretty nasty by bike as well. Someone halfheartedly mentioned the Greenwich foot tunnel, but I suspected the police would have blocked it as well. But we went East, and when we got to Rotherhithe tunnel it was, surprisingly, unguarded. I think the adrenaline kicked in for some of us - a chance to get past the silly road blocks! Sod it, lets go for it! And so we went down the ugly smelly polluted tunnel, open to cyclists but a route I've only done once, and thought I would never repeat. It seemed to go on for ever, the bends which were created to stop horses bolting for the safety of daylight meant that we too had no idea how much further to go.

But eventually the daylight beckoned, a 'scout' who went ahead to check it was clear reported there was a police car further up the road after the tunnel, but only a single one, and unlikely to be able to stop us. (whilst chaotic at times, the early part of the evening had definitely taken on a strategic cat and mouse approach. move and counter move, anticipating the opponent and trying to get ahead of them. In truth, this was a LOT of fun)

A local suggested we take the pedestrian stairs to further avoid police, which we did, all 100+ of us. At the top there were police 'guarding' the olympic route on the Highway. They didn't engage with us at all, and so we were free to continue on our way.

I can't recall ever being in Limehouse with CM before. It was somewhere new for the mass, and it was temptingly close to the Olympic site. We wound our way through side streets, we saw what I now know was the smoke from the Red Arrows that had passed over. The airships and helicopters that were over the stadium seemed very close already. I didn't really know where exactly the route took us, but it was heading North, and slightly East, till we hit Mile End. Notably, at no point did this route take us on the treasured 'Olympic Route Network', at least not until Bow interchange.

We were very nearly there. SURELY the police would stop us and turn us round at any moment. The road was quiet, very little traffic but people were outside pubs and on rooftops, and as ever the waves and cheers and photographing from bystanders taking took place. "serious disruption to the community" indeed!

Mile End, came and went, then Bow Road station. The nasty Bow Road interchange loomed; the were police vans on the lower part of the junction, but the flyover itself was completely clear, and open. (From what I can gather we were the first group of cyclists to reach here that night). At the top of the flyover, we stopped next to photographers set up there. The view was spectacular. The stadium was lit up and visible and it felt like we were right next to it. We had made it!! It felt like the police had wanted to stop CM that evening, and not only had they failed to do so but we were right here, in Stratford! Amazing feeling, and if anyone does have any photos of that view I'd love to see them.

So on we plodded, by now it must have been nearly 9 pm, everyone was already in their seats in the stadium and there was very little traffic going up to Stratford. We rode, we rode up to Stratford station, and round the gyratory and rang bells and cheered and high-fived tourists and stewards and got our photos taken by lots of bystanders. The police, initially at least, did nothing but watch. We did a couple of laps of the gyratory, then I *think* the police blocked off the run into Stratford station itself. (The roads were still open, at this point I had a rare moment of praise from a black cab driver who was looking for passengers in the area).

Then things changed.

We had assembled on the roundabout bit just west of the gyratory, by the fake palm tree and entirely off the road. Talked about what to do next - we had 'done' Stratford, there was no point in hanging around any longer. I didn't see the police assemble. I heard the shouts and looked over to see 40 police charge at us, without warning. We ran, or tried to. I saw people dragged off their bikes, and I'm slightly ashamed to say, I concentrated on my own safety. I cycled. Hard. and managed to dodge the attacking police. Even after clearing the area and heading west towards the flyover, I could see the opposite carriageway was lit up with police. A dozen or more police vans came out of nowhere, siren blaring. Was this really for us? Behind me, the police cars raced by, sirens blaring. I expected I was going to be pulled over any moment. Everywhere I looked ahead of me, there were lone cyclists being 'interviewed' by police. I somehow tried to keep my head down through the traffic, and eventually dismounted, hoping that it would give me a better chance at leniency. I walked past some officers on foot near the flyover, again expecting to be stopped and questioned, but fortunately they ignored me, and I was able to dock my bike at Bow Road station and get to the safety of the tube.

From a personal point of view, it was an exciting adventure, a spiced up version of Critical Mass where we managed to outwit London's 'finest'. I know though that I was inches away from having the horrible night that many of you endured, and I don't want my self-congratulatory prose to take anything away from the hardships faced by those that weren't so lucky. The police were wrong in the way they acted on Friday, at an individual level many were probably only following instructions from above,and I don't blame the guys at London Bridge for not telling me about the Section 12, but its those above that set in motion ludicrous conditions and a disproprotionate response from police. Critical Mass is for me about the joy of cycling, unimpeded. The joy of travelling around London without the fear of a HGV passing too close, or a taxi driver cutting in front of you or getting screamed at for daring to cycle on the road. It is important to me and I believe in its principles; I don't think everyone on Critical Mass is an angel, and hand on heart, I don't think we can say we were blameless on Friday. We did NOTHING that deserved such a response from the police though. And I look forward to a very popular August ride :D

Paul

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