Friday Ride Yields Mass Police, Media Coverage

Up to 200 cyclists gathered Friday evening for the first Critical Mass since the city law took effect limiting unpermitted bike rides and other public events to fewer than 50 people. With all the professional and citizen journalists on-hand to witness the "showdown" between cyclists and the NYPD, one wonders if the restriction might be extended to the media.

Though arrests were few, by all accounts the ride was significantly disrupted. WNYC reported the number of cyclists as "about 200," and said "many riders only got a block" before running into an NYPD barricade on Park Avenue.

Newsday says three cyclists were arrested and 47 were issued summonses or violations. The NYPD told the paper that two of those arrested were charged with disordlerly conduct and obstructing governmental administration, while charges were pending against the third. Bikeblog (via Gothamist) said summonses were handed out "to people who did not have a bell or a light or some other law on the books that is enforced about as frequent as someone driving on a cell phone."

Despite incorrectly referring to Critical Mass as an "organization," CW11 filed a favorable story, which included an interview with this woman before her arrest. Said reporter Arthur Chi’en: "We did not get the impression she was a rabble-rouser."

Will at onNYTurf says "Freewheels, which provides legal assistance to arrested cyclists, speculated that arrests were likely low as mass arrests might jeopardise the City’s defense in the 5 Borough Bike Club case … Mass arrests could make the NYPD look unreasonable." Will notes that City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, who rode along in a pedicab, "was not touched by the NYPD" — a "good move on their part."

The Village Voice pointed out that "[F]or all of Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s bluster about there being a new law in town, none of the Critical Mass riders were actually ticketed for parading without a permit. "Rather," the Voice continued, "the cops hit people up for a host of minor traffic violations like failing to keep to the right, not having a headlight, or not riding in the bike lane — even though there is no bike lane on Park Avenue."

Photo: Seth W. via Flickr

  • benbo

    Dear members of the cycling community:

    There is a coordinated effort between Time’s Up!, FreeWheels, Glass
    Bead Collective Legal Response Team and some fine lawyers to QUICKLY
    centralize the information about the 48 summons that were issued Friday
    night during critical mass. If you received a summons please email the
    relevant information (described below) to This
    information will be marshaled in order to coordinate media and legal
    responses to the conduct of the NYPD last Friday.

    If we can collect and centralize the information about the summons that
    were issued, it is possible that a significant number of the summons
    may be legally inapplicable or facially insufficient as a matter of
    law. We may be able to show that the NYPD issued frivolous summons in
    an attempt to break up the ride and that they did it with more
    aggressiveness than the issued summons would warrant. If you have
    any questions email the address below as well.

    If possible, please also email a .pdf version of the front and back of
    each ticket you were issued. If you cannot, please photocopy the front
    and back of your ticket and fax it 212-629-8334 . Please indicate that
    the transmission is PRIVILEGED AND CONFIDENTIAL.
    [Please keep in mind that we are looking for ONLY the following
    information at this time. If you have information about, or evidence
    regarding, a ticketing incident, or an arrest, please provide your
    contact information to , but please do not send
    written information, or leave recorded information over the phone.]

    What’s your name, address, phone number, and email address?
    How many tickets were you issued, total?
    Was your bike seized?
    How long were you detained by the NYPD ?
    Were you moved from the location of the arrest? If yes, to where?
    With respect to each ticket, please tell us:

    · What type of summons were you issued? – is it returnable in
    the New York City Criminal Court, the New York State Department of
    Motor Vehicle’s Traffic Violations Bureau, or the Environmental Control
    Board? What is the address? Is it something you can mail in or do you
    have a date to appear?

    · What’s the ticket number?

    · What’s the date on the ticket?

    · What’s the time on the ticket?

    · What’s the location on the ticket?

    · Who issued you the ticket? Please give us the officer’s
    name, command, squad, and Tax ID number.

    · Which set of laws or rules does the ticket allege you
    violated – the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law (“VTL”)? The New
    York City Department of Transportation Rules (“NYCDOT Rules”)? The New
    York City Administrative Code (“NYCAC”)? The New York State Penal Law

    · Which specific section(s) of the law or rule are you alleged
    to have violated?

    · What exactly does the ticket narrative say?

    Keep Riding.


At Critical Mass, Reverend Al Calls for NYPD Accountability

The Reverend Al Sharpton, the family of Sean Bell, and an all-star cast of civil liberties advocates joined cyclists in Union Square last Friday for one of the more anticipated Critical Mass rides in recent memory. The gathering, which filled up the south end of the park, came three weeks after the Reverend led hundreds […]