Bicycle Uprising: Celebration Ride and Community Forum This Friday

Image: Newsday, July 1987

Cyclists of all stripes and generations will converge on lower Manhattan this Friday evening, September 28, for a two-part event celebrating the street actions that thwarted a ban on cycling and threw bike activism into high gear 25 years ago, and charting a course for livable streets progress today and tomorrow.

Part I is a mass bike ride from Greenwich Village to Central Park South via Sixth Avenue, returning downtown via Fifth and Park. Riders will gather at 6:30 p.m. at West Houston Street and Sixth, which was the launching pad for the messenger-led rides that won over the public and turned the political tide against the 1987 Midtown Bike Ban. It’s also where the driver of an oversized tractor-trailer struck and killed scooter-rider Jessica Dworkin earlier this month — a stark reminder of the mounting human toll of NYC’s motor-centric traffic culture.

The ride sets off around 7:00 pm. Like the 1987 protests, it will be leisurely, non-confrontational and yielding of right of way to others. We’ll arrive at Cooper Union around 8:30 and enter the Great Hall (site of presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln’s historic address in February 1860), where Part II of the evening — a community forum with film screening and panel discussion — kicks off at 9:00 sharp.

The film, the vintage 40-minute documentary “Fifth, Park And Madison,” is renowned for its classic footage and real-time commentary about the uprising that beat back the bike ban. It will be followed by a panel discussion and audience Q&A about bike activism and advocacy then and now, with Steve “Greek” Athineos, who led the direct actions against the ban and now owns Mothers Messenger Co.; Monica Hunken, Time’s Up! ride leader, organizer and board member; Charlie McCorkell, founding owner of Bicycle Habitat and a mainstay of NYC bike advocacy since the 1970s; Tony “Stone Tone” Monroe, bike messenger and renowned organizer of alley-cat bike races; Caroline Samponaro, director of bicycle advocacy at Transportation Alternatives; and Laura Solis of We Bike NYC (Women’s Empowerment through Bicycling). Click here for program plus panelists’ full bios.

You can do just the bike ride or the forum. Both are free, as is Cooper Union valet bike parking. Rain or shine, don’t miss this Friday’s once-in-a-generation celebration of the activism that has done so much to transform the New York City streetscape and bring bicycling into the mainstream, and a high-spirited discussion of where we go next.