The Critical Mass Bike Ride wants you! It’s getting warmer. Time to take that bicycle out of the closet and oil up that chain. Now more than ever we need people to attend the critical mass bike ride which has been happening on the last Friday of every month in New York City for 7 years.
The next one is April 29th, 2005.
The NYPD would like you to think that the ride is dangerous, that it is a menace that it has been taken over by troublemaking anarchists. They would like you to believe that riding more than 2 abreast is illegal. That running red lights makes you a procession and that more than 20 people in a procession without a permit is illegal. They want you to think there is such a thing as illegally locking up your bicycle. None of this is true. People have been suing against the police for illegal bicycle seizures and winning.
Now the NYPD wants to shut down this event in NYC, that happens in over 300 cities around the globe. They think that by arresting people, attacking them with scoters, stealing property, tying up the court system with false arrests and general harassment through lying will make people too intimidated and just plain go away.
On top of all this, the police are trying to sue 4 individuals from the environmental group Time’s Up. These 4 people were identified because they have been speaking to the media to try and explain how the NYPD is lying to the public. The NYPD is trying to convince the city that Time’s up is responsible for Critical mass and that it should simply apply for a permit. This is not how Critical mass works. It is not a group, it is a leaderless phenomenon, where people show up in one spot and go for a bike ride, in the street, where bicycles legally belong.
Time’s Up is an environmental education non-profit that has been leading bike rides for over 18 years. It is all-volunteer. which has been providing free events including environmental bike tours, bicycle maintenance workshops, movie screenings and lots of bike rides. This group should be rewarded for trying to make NYC a more bike friendly, cleaner and livable city not harassed and burdened with lawsuits.
The current lawsuit being brought by the city, claims 3 things:
1) That critical mass must apply for a permit.
2) That no more than 20 people can gather in one spot in order to meet for critical mass without a permit.
3) Time’s up cannot advertise for critical mass because it is an illegal event.
This goes against the basic principles of the constitution directly effecting free speech and free assembly. This lawsuit sets a precedence not only towards this bike ride but also to all groups and anyone gathered anywhere in the city. It also is trying to say that you cannot talk about an event. This is ludicrous. 1984 is close, but not here yet.
I feel that the counter to this is to show up in massive numbers and ride in critical mass. Every month and increase our numbers instead of going away. Are the Orwellian tactics of the police going away? Is there waste of tax dollar resources for a bike ride going away? Is our dependence on foreign oil causing war and massive pollution going away?
I ask you for 2 things.
1) To show up at critical mass the last Friday of this month. There will also be a speak out at the South Side of Union square explaining the situation and letting people voice there opinions. If you don’t have a bike or don’t want to go on the ride…show up at 6:00pm and show support. Then the ride will meet in 4 places choose your favorite e park…I will be at Washington Square. Show up at 7:00pm
Union Square North, Washington Square Park, Madison Park (23rd and Broadway), or Tompkins Square Park.
2) Donate to the Time’s Up legal defense fund. We have retained civil rights lawyer and public advocate candidate Norman Siegel and need funding to fight these charges in State court. You can donate at the Time’s up website…www.time’s-up.org
This is not just about people fighting for their right to the road. This is about freedom of speech and free assembly which is being attacked by and administration that only cares about Football Stadiums and luxury apartment development, making the average price of an apartment $1.2 million dollars. They are trying to make it impossible to live here and impossible to ride our bikes as a group.
Lets show them who cares about the environment, the constitution and about the NYC community. Still we ride.