Speaker Quinn “Pleased” With NYPD’s New Biking Restrictions

spkquinn_150px.jpgDespite being slapped down in court a couple of times now, the NYPD is proposing yet another set of rules to restrict public gatherings aimed primarily at the bicyclists who meet for the monthly Critical Mass ride. According to yesterday’s Times

The department is moving to require parade permits for groups of 10 or more bicyclists or pedestrians who plan to travel more than two city blocks without complying with traffic laws. It is also pushing to require permits for groups of 30 or more bicyclists or pedestrians who obey traffic laws.

So, for the NYPD, thirty cars and trucks clogging up two city blocks is "traffic." Thirty bikes rolling freely down those same two city blocks is "an illegal, un-permitted parade." (I suppose the entire city of Copenhagen needs to be arrested immediately).

OnNYTurf reports that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is, sadly, throwing her political weight behind the new rules. You wonder what sort of horse-trading went into this one. In a statement released yesterday Quinn said:

The New York City Police Department’s proposed regulations for when and what activities will require parade permits are a substantial improvement over regulations proposed earlier. We are very pleased that the NYPD was receptive to our suggestions for a practical approach to traffic and public safety issues.

Contact Speaker Quinn

  • Charlie

    Why does the NYPD feel that these “parade restrictions” are needed against bicyclists? Critical mass would already be disobeying laws if they are not following the rules of the road. The police most certainly could stop them and ticket them for that.

  • Matthew

    This is only nominally about Critical Mass. The new rules are more in a series of efforts by the NYPD to get more control over demonstrations.

  • ddartley

    The fact that they add the language about groups of 30+ who DO obey traffic laws makes it clear that it IS about Critical Mass, since recently, CM in Manhattan has been so small that it HAS to obey the laws. In the past, when CM would sometimes be huge, the riders felt safe enough to bully their way through traffic lights. But now, from my admittedly few recent observations, CM in Manhattan has been so small (but definitely over 30) that riders’ own safety has compelled them to obey traffic laws. If a group of cyclists are using the road legally, then there is no fair reason to create new rules to restrict their ride. Such a move against lawful cyclists must only be irrational and retaliatory, not legitimate.

    I used to criticize CM a lot (as a former participant myself), but these new proposed rules, because they so obviously target even lawful cyclists, are even worse than the last ones that NYPD was forced to withdraw.

  • Clarence

    No matter how your individual thoughts about Critical Mass this will still impact groups of people like schools (who walk with more than 30 on occassion), the 5BBC and other clubs bike rides (which regularly draw 30 or more), and walking tours (my friend Dan the other day led a walking tour of over 70 people!)

    All of these groups generally obey traffic laws, but they’d still need a permit.

  • J:Lai

    The proposed restrictions are a “back pocket” regulation which, I predict, will be enforced very selectively by the police dept.

    If some form of this regulation survives court challenges, I think it is unlikely that it will be enforced to require school teachers to get parade permits when taking their classes outside, but very likely that it will be used to require groups like critical mass, or other forms of “protest” that the NYPD find politically objectionable, to go through the permit process or risk arrest.

  • someguy

    J:Lai – well put. I think that’s the crux of the issue – the fact that NYPD really just wants it as a legal loophole to squelch whatever street-based protests they want. Talk about the beginning of the end of free speech, or the end of the beginning of 1984? Activists should definitely focus on this likely double-standard, both before and after it is implemented (if it is).

  • ddartley

    I agree, J:Lai and Someguy–it’s easy to overlook how really dangerous a direction it is for any government in America to take. It should be fiercely and loudly opposed.

  • I receive these emails from this org. as I’m interested in seeing fewer cars on the road all of American cities. It’s like taking to the converted here- I’d ask that this group think about trying for a car free day in NYC and accross America – Public transport and alternatives being the order of the day. Good Luck NYC!
    BGB

  • Richard

    Thank you critical mass organizers. My predictions came through. On several occasions I joined your rides as I watched you taunt drivers, block intersections by turning your backs on drivers, scream “Whose Streets,Our Streets,” as opposed to everyone’s streets, prevent vehicles from getting through even when the light changed (That includes Access A Ride Vans, buses, and exhausted or sick people who needed to use a car,illegally spray paint Critical Mass and “Bicycling is Not a Crime signs on Bridges” (yes it is my bridge too and you have no right to damage it). And finally smirk when I asked if you knew anything about the spray paint. No wonder the police department wants to “Get Even,” along with the not yet cycling community!

    Thanks for screwing things up. Instead of promoting cycling by winnning people over, you managed to turn people off to cyclists. And you call this advocacy! Keep laughing while I have to write letters to try to undo much of your damage.

  • ddartley

    I sympathize a lot with Richard.

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