Most Critical Mass cyclists arrested on eve of Olympics will go free

Only 16 of 182 arrested will face further questioning as solicitors claim police were heavy handed

by Sarah Barth   September 13, 2012  

Image from @MetPoliceEvents

Most of the Critical Mass cycle protesters arrested on the eve of the Olympic Games in London will face no further action, solicitors representing protesters have said.

Of the 182 people arrested on the outskirts of the Olympic Park following a scuffle between police and Critical Mass riders, only 16 will be interviewed when they return to police stations next week.

Riders complained they were being kettled at around 22.30 on July 27, as the Olympic opening ceremony was underway in the main stadium.

Raj Chada, solicitor at Hodge Jones & Allen said:  "This has all the hallmarks of a flawed police operation. A regular event in London was over-policed because of paranoia about the Olympics.

"182 people were arrested - kept on buses for hours without food or water because they couldn't be booked in custody suites, released as soon as they made to the police station, given hugely restrictive bail conditions for several weeks and now, thankfully, they have been told there is no further action.

"We consider there are potential civil claims for compensation against the police following the mistreatment of our clients and will be taking this further.”

Some cyclists faced bail conditions including keeping away from the Olympic Park, or had their bikes held until after the Games were over.

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 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"

14 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I'm sure that arresting them was OTT.

The police should have asked their Mums and Dads to give them a smack and send them to bed early.

Police: 'Don't go here, it's the start of the Olympics and we don't want to be fannying about with you.'

CM: 'Come on, lets go and antagonise the police, make sure you've got your what-to-do-if-arrested cards, but be sure to explain that we're not an organised group'

posted by crikey [1177 posts]
13th September 2012 - 19:40


"Critical Mass rides are monthly protest rides"

Sorry, but that is factually incorrect. No wonder it is so widely misunderstood if even a cycling news website reports it wrongly.

It is a spontaneous celebration of cycling and a regular procession, as agreed by the House of Lords judgment.

So pleased for those arrested by this news.

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
13th September 2012 - 20:40


crikey wrote:

The police should have asked their Mums and Dads to give them a smack and send them to bed early.

So everyone who takes part in the CM's are now smack heads? Grow up and think about what you are saying before you type it out. Surprise

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9369 posts]
13th September 2012 - 20:41


Mummy or daddy giving you A smack is not the same as being a smackhead, is it?

Perhaps you could ask mummy or daddy to help you with your reading, it appears to be somewhat deficient.

posted by crikey [1177 posts]
13th September 2012 - 21:23


Sorry. My error.....

Yes, I should brush up on my reading skills a little, but being dyslexic I jumble up words and read things wrong sometimes. My writing is fine, but reading leaves something to be desired sometimes Sad

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9369 posts]
13th September 2012 - 23:18


"It is a spontaneous celebration of cycling and a regular procession, as agreed by the House of Lords judgment."

How can disrupting the Olympics be a celebration of cycling?

I forgive Roadcc if they've got CM wrong, as for all I can see they were deliberately blocking a road, without any real cause, protest or meaning. Causing a policing problem when the police were already stretched.

Dunno about smack heads, but idiots is the word that springs to mind.

The real celebration of cycling was all of the Olympic Cycling that has done more to improve everything for all of us cyclists.
Including awareness, roads, attitude, facilities, etc etc etc.

posted by pmr [193 posts]
14th September 2012 - 10:10


They look so happy blocking roads, must be such fun.
When they grow up they might realise why the police and drivers in general have a poor attitude towards cyclists.

posted by pmr [193 posts]
14th September 2012 - 10:16


I really hope their civil claims are successful. Disgraceful behaviour by the police.

I've never joined a CM ride because I'm wary of the confrontational aspect but I'm tempted to start now. Two fingers to the uniformed thugs.

As for the slowing traffic down aspect - I think the traffic does that quite well on its on a Friday evening in London.

posted by Coleman [331 posts]
14th September 2012 - 10:33


there are no organisers, so the fact that someone mentioned something on a website is irrelevant.

More importantly, you neglect to mention the first of the police's tweets warning riders to stay south came out at 7:49pm, 49 minutes after the ride started.

Don't know about you, but I tend not to check twitter on my bike.

Also there wasn't a 'scuffle' by the Olympic park. The police just kettled and arrested people for riding their bikes.

posted by paulbrock [12 posts]
14th September 2012 - 10:39


@pmr, how can riding bikes on roads (and that's all that CM did) disrupt the Olympics?

The roads were open, there were buses and taxis on them. There was no blockade that was breached. No roads were blocked.

(not only that, by the time we got to Stratford, the Opening ceremony was well underway and everyone was in their seats (most were before we set off at 7pm), no-one was being blocked from attending)

posted by paulbrock [12 posts]
14th September 2012 - 10:43


Critical Mass isn't a protest and it's not held in conjunction with the police. Despite people stating the contrary, it's not illegal to ride a bike in London.

posted by velobetty [67 posts]
14th September 2012 - 13:59


We've done this debate at some length on Singletrackworld, and the consensus seemed to be that most people who ride bikes for transport and/or for leisure think that CM is counter-productive in terms of 'promoting cycling' largely because of the behaviour of those who attend. There are a number of attendees who are deliberately provocative and who do damage to the cause of cycling in cities rather than help it.

It's also becoming clear that cycling in the UK and in London is getting more and more popular and even becoming aspirational; neither of which can be attributed to a monthly gathering of people prepared to deliberately antagonise other road users.

As before though, no one who identifies with CM will take any notice of what other cyclists say, because they're too busy 'sticking it to the Man'.

posted by crikey [1177 posts]
14th September 2012 - 18:02


In the town where I work there is, as there probably is in a lot of towns, a 'local cycling action group'.

Now the first time I ever saw a mass ride was on my birthday a few years back and there were tons of riders all cruising down the street and it looked ace. So seeing as I work in a bike shop and thought it seemed like fun I decided to go on the next one.

That's when I realised it was all car-hating hippies Crying

So tell me, does anyone know of a 'CM' that I can go on where there are no hippies, just people that like riding Silly

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posted by Municipal Waste [237 posts]
14th September 2012 - 22:08


Maybe its about time London cyclists who are not joining the CM because of its political side, start a Critical Manners or "RideCivil" in conjunction with the police and other authorities to show to "proper" cyclists in the kind of way we should all been seen.

Not the rabble that the CM seems to attract for the protest side of it.

After looking online as who "organises" the London CM, all I could find was Urban75?? Who seem to be a very political movement. Are they behind the London CM's??

I laugh at the below description from Wikipedia regarding the London CM's

Critical Mass participants have insisted that these events should be viewed as "celebrations" and spontaneous gatherings, and not as protests or organized demonstrations. This stance allows Critical Mass to argue a legal position that its events can occur without advance notification of local police.

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9369 posts]
14th September 2012 - 22:17