Critical Mass is a monthly ride with no formal organization, where riders try to demonstrate that bicycles have a place on the roads by swarming one area of a city. The New York City ride, which starts at Union Square, has been targeted by police in the past, particularly during the Republican National Convention in 2004, and in January 2006, Judge Gerald Harris ruled that Critical Mass did not require a permit.
New York’s City Council wasn’t involved in creating the regulation, only the police department, and at least one council member will participate tonight, in support of the riders and to observe NYPD’s tactics. Councilwoman Rosie Mendez:
“To criminalize the behavior of individuals assembling in groups over 50 is arbitrary and unconstitutional,” she said.
The Five Boroughs Bicycling Club has filed suit against the NYPD, since the law would require them to obtain parade permits for many of the group’s rides. From a statement by 5BBC president Ed DeFreitas:
We could have stood by, ignored the new rules, and let the police arrest bicyclists at Critical Mass and hoped that they wouldn’t come for us. But the 5BBC board decided that we could not do that, not when the civil rights of all bicyclists in New York City and indeed group bicycling itself was under attack.
Photo: Two Buildings Made of Sky, by heidinyny.