Come to Critical Mass Early...for a press conference
Here is an article in AMNY
Critical Mass to be tested under new NYPD rules
By Justin Rocket Silverman, amNewYork Staff Writer
March 29, 2007
Participants in Friday's Critical Mass bicycle ride are bracing for mass arrests if police enforce new regulations requiring a permit for rides of more than 50 cyclists.
The monthly gatherings routinely draw hundreds of riders, and Friday's will be the first under the new rules.
"I'm afraid we are going to see a return to the police actions of 2004 and 2005," said Marilyn Horan, who has been participating in Critical Mass rides for a decade. "Police could once again block off streets at both ends, corral and arrest cyclists."
The NYPD instituted the controversial regulations last month without City Council oversight. They define any group of 50 or more cyclists, pedestrians or other vehicles as a "parade" that must apply for a permit.
Critical Mass participants say the rules are designed to crack down on their event. They also say the group has no central organization, and thus no responsible person to apply for the permit.
Councilwoman Rosie Mendez (D-Manhattan) said she would ride along in a pedicab tonight, both as an observer and to protest the rules.
"To criminalize the behavior of individuals assembling in groups over 50 is arbitrary and unconstitutional," she said.
NYPD chief spokesman Paul Browne defended the new regulations.
"Persons who break the law, whether individually or in groups, remain subject to summons or arrest. A parade permit gives groups the ability to engage in conduct that would otherwise be illegal, whether it's groups on foot marching up Fifth Avenue on St Patrick's Day or cyclists running lights togther," he said.
In a related matter, The Five Borough Bicycle Club sued the NYPD in federal court this week to block the regulations. The bike club says the new rules could effectively shut down its city tours and other organized group rides.
"We've been doing these rides for decades and they are perfectly safe, but now we need a permit for them to be legal," said Ed DeFreitas, president of the bike club. "Our insurance only protects us if we don't break the law."
DeFreitas said applying for a parade permit was complicated and time consuming, and that police officers themselves seemed unaware of the regulations. A federal judge heard arguments in the bicycle club's suit Thursday, and was expected to grant or deny an injunction in the next week.
This brings up the very definition of Critical Mass which often gets overlooked. I have tried to sum it up in a brief dialog of fictictious characters...based on real people...sort of...Here is a brief scene from Act One of my new play...To Critical Mass or Not to Critical Mass.
Anarchist Cyclist Hellbent on Anarchistic Cycling: "Hey, why don't we just apply for a permit and make the city have to block traffic for us the last Friday of every month?"
Law abidding "Good Cyclist" Hellbent on Good Cycling: "But who is we? Who is going to apply for a permit? Are you going to go to the Police department and say, Hey I am organizing a critical mass bike ride and I need a permit to go from point A to point B.
Anarchist Cyclist Hellbent on Anarchistic Cycling: "Gee whiz, I never thought of that...Critical mass has no leadership...its just a phenomenum that has spread across the planet in over 300 cities around the world."
Law abidding "Good Cyclist" Hellbent on Good Cycling: "That's right. You see this is just the city trying to divide us and stop something which the do not have control over...Besides, even if you do apply for a permit the NYPD just stalls and waits and before you know it your event date has already passed. On top of that they come up with all kinds of excuses like, we don't like that route...how bout you go from Union Square North to Union Square South? Isn't that enough of a bike ride for you? Its all a big joke. I miss Smolka, I wish he didn't retire, I wanted to watch him beat up legal observers, photographers and bad cyclists like you, with out spilling an ounce of his coffee."
End of Act One.