More than 100 cyclists arrested near Olympic Park

Police intervened when Critical Mass ride left approved route

by Sarah Barth   July 28, 2012  

Image from @MetPoliceEvents

More than 100 cyclists were arrested last night on the outskirts of the Olympic Park following a scuffle between police and Critical Mass riders.

Riders complained they were being kettled at around 22.30, as the Olympic opening ceremony was underway in the main stadium.

The Metropolitcan Police did not respond to claims of kettling when asked by the BBC, but said two groups had been detained - the first on Bow Flyover and the other in Warton Road, Stratford, for public order offences.

The arrested cyclists' bikes were driven away in buses.

Here's a video, allegedly showing the police dealing with a protester who claims to be disabled.

Kerry-Anne Mendoza, 31, who describes herself as a campaigner and writer, told the BBC: "We were cycling down the Bow Road and the police directed us down a cul-de-sac.

"Then they kettled us in there. There is a line of police cars and vans behind that."

She added: "They have not communicated with us or told us why we are being held here or when they will let us out."

Critical Mass rides are monthly protest rides, which are usually held peacefully in conjunction with the police. Hundreds of cyclists ride together, slowing traffic in central London.

Although this month's ride had not been billed as an anti-Olympic ride, Critical Mass does not have an explicit agenda, and discussion on the message boards contained debate as to whether the ride was a protest against the Games.

Before the ride, the organisers warned cyclists they might need to be 'peacefully' assertive in the face of stronger than usual police presence.

The website said: "Most London cyclists will know about the regular monthly Critical Mass ride this evening. Many will also know that the police seem concerned about it, because of all the Olympic traffic," it stated. "It might be assumed that, as usual, the mood of Critical Mass will be to peacefully assert the right of cyclists to travel safely wherever they want in London. But in case the police – who normally leave Critical Mass alone – were to decide to intervene this month, it would be good to have lots of people prepared to be peacefully assertive."

The Metropolitan Police had already warned riders to stay south of the river.

They tweeted:

"The procession is not to commence before 1800hrs on 27/07/2012 and end no later than 0300 on 28/07/2012 #Criticalmass #protest"

and warned riders to say off the Olympic Route Network:

"Participants must not enter any part of the ORN #criticalmass #protest"

Joel Benjamin, who has been on a number of Critical Mass bike rides previously, told the BBC there were 400-500 cyclists who met on the south side of Waterloo Bridge.

"Usually there is a light police presence," he said. "Today there were far more police than I've seen before."
'Celebration of cycling'

He said police used a sound system to tell cyclists there were restrictions placed on the ride but not what it might mean if they breached them.

"Basically, they didn't want us to go north of the river. The police had put a roadblock stopping all traffic going north."

He said police took a "heavy-handed stance".

"I guess there were people there who are against the Olympics, but Critical Mass is really a celebration of cycling, there was no need to get so heavy handed. "

On Twitter, one user referred to the cyclists taking part in the Olympic opening ceremony, writing:

"While doves on bikes circling the #Olympic track, peaceful #criticalmass cyclists attacked & arrested.Which version of Britain do you want?"

Later on, the morning after the arrests were made, another wrote:

"20 #criticalmass arrestees still waiting to be processed, having been held on a bus all night, they've had no food. Completely disgusting."

Were you on Critical Mass last night? What do you think of the arrests?

18 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

If you want to protest, stick to the rules made by organisers and police, simple. Police arnt going to let people run wild especially on Olyimpic opening night.

posted by Will Steed [48 posts]
28th July 2012 - 9:32

1 Like

Mass usually circulates around Central London, and getting out along Bow Road is a good 30 minute diversion for the ride. To press on after the confrontation crossing the river in London suggests an agenda to see how far those influencing the direction of the ride could push the Police before the shutters came down.

That said the cul-de-sac move was perhaps a bad one.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [499 posts]
28th July 2012 - 9:44

1 Like

Police arrested wife after domestic and she gave them lip - somehow they couldn't process in time for next morning court so she had 2 nights in cells. (Not a happy story)

Presumably equally a delay in processing some of the CM crowd.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [499 posts]
28th July 2012 - 9:49


Yes, Will Steed, protests should be kept away from anywhere they might actually be able to make a point. *eyeroll*

The ORN has undoubtedly made London more dangerous for cyclists. I accidentally ended up on it a couple of nights ago in the car. I was the only driver I saw who strayed into a Games Lane in order to overtake a rider on The Highway - everyone else was passing him with inches to spare.

LOCOG needs to make it clear that drivers should behave normally around cyclists.

John Stevenson's picture

posted by John Stevenson [1224 posts]
28th July 2012 - 10:16


Critical Mass is a celebration of cycling? The one I went to involved cycling to Parliament Square during rush hour, stopping en masse, snarling up traffic and causing as much trouble as possible in an apparent bid to "get one back" over evil car drivers. Sod that, I prefer to celebrate cycling by actually, you know, cycling.

posted by Nick T [841 posts]
28th July 2012 - 11:38


Will Steed wrote:
If you want to protest, stick to the rules made by organisers and police, simple. Police arnt going to let people run wild especially on Olyimpic opening night.

Er, Critical Mass isn't organised. And as far as I know, the police didn't arrest any of the cabbies who took part in their own version of critical mass earlier on Friday - see

Meantime, my nephew finally got home after being held for about 10 hours overnight by the police. His crime? Riding a bicycle, allegedly contrary to section 12 of the Public Order Act.

His bike has been confiscated until 20 September 2012.

His bail conditions include the requirement 'not to go within 100 yards of any olympic venue' and 'not to enter the borough of Newham whilst in possession of a cycle'.

He faces up to 3 months in prison and a fine of up to £1000.

posted by austen.croydonc... [10 posts]
28th July 2012 - 12:03

1 Like

I've joined Critical Mass a number of times, and when it is an unorganised, good-natured assertion of our rights to the road, it generally goes smoothly and without aggression breakling out on either side - the occasional ars*hole motorist but that's all.

It was entirely predictable that this one would develop into a protest about the Olympics due to the co-incidence of the opemning ceremnoy the same evening, and some cycling blogs urged people for that reason to stay away. The fact that "organisers" emerged, and pre-selecetd a route (the whole point being that the ride is unorganised and that the route just happens spontaneously) reinforces the point that this was not a normal CM. No-one could have been under any illusion that a police response would be heavy handed - after all, we have seenteh closure of the Lea towpath, location of missile batteries on top of peoples' homes, and a general racking up of security and restriction on movement - so anyone attending must surely have had confrontation in mind.

That is NOT what the great majority of London cyclists want, when they say they want facilities to improve and traffic to be tamed

posted by Paul M [325 posts]
28th July 2012 - 12:31

1 Like

austen - I wonder if you read the BBC story? The cab drivers changes the time of their protest so it didn't come under the act. The cab drivers played on weakness in the system, these cyclist seemed intent on riding into it head on

posted by spen [92 posts]
28th July 2012 - 16:57

1 Like

Critical Mass has no 'organisers', nor a 'route', therefore its not so simple is it? What the police did was say "You cannot go in a massive part of London", which seeing as CM is not governed by Section 11 of the Public Order Act, is inapplicable and incredibly draconian.

For reference, read:

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [600 posts]
28th July 2012 - 17:45

1 Like

I thought they were pigeons,not doves.
Oh and Critical Mass are pathetic.

TheHatter's picture

posted by TheHatter [811 posts]
28th July 2012 - 18:01

1 Like

There are ways to protest and ways not to. Also if you do end up being kettled just sit it out quietly, be polite and definitely don't be an arse; if you do you are only going to make it worse. Sorry but very little sympathy here.

I love the smell of cleats (mexican accent, you do the jokes)

posted by paulfrank [80 posts]
28th July 2012 - 18:11

1 Like

Oh and Critical Mass are pathetic.

Well, Im glad we got that sorted. Thank you for doing that out for us all.


zanf's picture

posted by zanf [600 posts]
28th July 2012 - 18:12

1 Like

Good on the cops, as a law abiding cyclist who loves to ride my bike its people like that who give the rest of us a harder time with motorists.

You play with fire, you're going to get burnt big style.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2839 posts]
28th July 2012 - 18:14

1 Like

I had thought about joining a CM ride but if the sole intention is to get in peoples way I can't see the point. I'd rather join a ride that encourages non-cyclists to have an enjoyable ride in London.

posted by musicalmarc [60 posts]
29th July 2012 - 11:43

1 Like

idiots, just what we need, more disruption in London.

posted by Cervelo12 [78 posts]
29th July 2012 - 16:20

1 Like

Watching the first part of that video it looks like the female police officer (without dayglow vest) seems to be holding back the male police officer in the dayglow vest who does appear to be rather enthusiastic in his approach.
Please don't get me wrong I agree with others on this site who have said cycling is riding a bike full stop. I think Nick T said it best just get out there and enjoy a cycle ride.


posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [604 posts]
29th July 2012 - 17:58

1 Like

I've seen the CM rides in Manchester, last Friday evening of the month or something like that. It seems friendly enough but clearly has some sort of 'take back the streets' undertone to it - which I don't think helps us, really. I'm not asking motorists to give up their cars and 'all be like me, everybody!" - I'd just like them to give me enough room when they pass is all.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3446 posts]
1st August 2012 - 8:31


You must have misread the bit where it said it wasn't a protest.

posted by sheridan [5 posts]
5th August 2012 - 10:47

1 Like