Whats been going on…Recap of the critical massness.

So the police announced they no longer want to mess around with this legal bike riding nonsense so they came up with some laws on their own and are going to allow the people to listen to the rules defined at a public hearing on August 23rd. at Police Headquarters and make sure to video tape and barcode all those in attendance to root out who the “trouble makers are.” No need for city council involvement, too messy. When the NYPD gets annoyed with silly things like the constitution and a federal and state judge’s ruling…its time to make up your own rules. Here is what they have announced.

1. Require parade permits for bicyclists traveling in groups of 20 or more.
2. Any cyclists or walkers who take to the streets in groups of 2 or more and disobey traffic laws need a permit.
3. Require a permit for 35 or more people who restrict themselves to the sidewalk. (just in case you try and get out of the street and hang out on the sidewalk. So if you can’t be in the street and you can’t be on the sidewalk?)
4. anyone who even thinks about parading in the street needs a permit….ok I made number 4 up…but it will probably be next if the secret police get their way. B is for Bicycles.

Have you ever tried to get a permit for something political in this town? Its like asking president Bush to complete a long difficult sentence…impossible.

Basically this stems from the NYPD being told by a judge that Critical Mass does not need a permit and so the police had to back off and not arrest people on this bike ride that happens the last Friday of every month. Instead they have been increasing the domestic spying, writing all kinds of weird tickets on the ride and dooring people, harassing cyclists not only on critical mass but everyday, telling people their speed is being monitored on the Williamsburg bridge, ticketing cyclists in the public parks and on and on. If you still think these are isolated incidents…THINK AGAIN.

The NYtimes came out with an article on Wednesday alerting people of what was going on.

The next day Time’s Up held an emergency press conference in their space and had civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel explain how unconstitional all of this is. Some press where there like NY1 and Clyde Haberman of the NY Times who wrote thsi article:

Published: July 21, 2006

ONE of New York’s greater glories is its talent for finding molehills and turning them into mountains. It led this week to a proposed set of police regulations with civil liberties implications.

In case you were distracted by little things like the Middle East crisis and the stem-cell debate, the Police Department announced new rules controlling marches and parades, be they on foot or on wheels. The rules won’t become
final until after a public hearing scheduled for Aug. 23 (when many New Yorkers are certain to be away). But it sounds as if minds at police headquarters are made up.

Here’s the new drill:

Bicyclists traveling in groups of 20 or more must first get a parade permit from the police. The same goes for
groups of 35 or more people walking together on sidewalks. For that matter, a group of merely two people
— that’ s right, two people — will be defined as a parade if they walk or cycle “in a manner that does not
comply with all applicable traffic laws, rules and regulations.”

Be honest. Have you never, while strolling or biking with a companion, crossed the street against a red light?
It would seem that the two of you will now, technically speaking, qualify as a parade. And since you probably
will not have first asked the police for a parade permit, it appears that you will — again technically — be breaking
two laws.

What happened here is that a molehill became a mountain.

A group bicycle ride known as Critical Mass is held in Manhattan on the last Friday of every month. This event,
encouraged by an environmental group called Time’s Up, went on for years with no one paying much attention.
Then the Republicans came to town in 2004. The bike ride on the eve of their convention was huge. Things got unruly, and 264 people were arrested.

After that, the atmosphere between the police and Time’s Up became poisonous, with each side accusing the other of bad faith. The police harass them and provoke clashes, the riders say. The riders block traffic and look for trouble, the police say. Each side probably has a point.

Five months ago, a State Supreme Court justice, Michael D. Stallman, rejected the Police Department’s attempts to rein in Critical Mass with rules that he called ill-defined. Almost plaintively, Justice Stallman urged both sides to exercise “patience, mutual respect and restraint,” and in effect return that mountain to a molehill.

Now we have the new regulations — tailored, the police say, to the judge’s complaint about vagueness. They do not, however, bring the molehill back.

Civil libertarians call the revisions a frontal assault on free speech. “Overkill,” the civil liberties lawyer Norman Siegel said yesterday. Protesters, Mr. Siegel said, “will now need government permission to exercise their First Amendment rights.” Similar objections came from the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Questions are unavoidable.

What if 35 people, outraged by events in the Middle East, decide suddenly to march on the sidewalk to the United Nations? This is hardly an unimaginable event. The new regulations, strictly read, say they must first get a parade permit.

“Let us remember that part of the right to protest is the right to spontaneously protest,” said City Councilman Alan Jay Gerson of Manhattan. Besides, Mr. Gerson said, it should be up to the Council, not the police, to change rules governing free speech. Indeed, the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, said in a statement yesterday that “these proposals
raise significant questions that we are examining carefully.”

PRACTICAL considerations also come to mind. Will 20 people on a routine bike tour have to get a parade permit? How about 35 kids walking as a group on a class trip? Or a funeral procession?

Paul J. Browne, a Police Department spokesman, dismissed all this as “grasping at unrealistic scenarios.” Still, some will wonder if the rules are to be uniformly enforced or applied mainly to groups deemed nettlesome, like Time’s Up. The question is part of a broader issue that New Yorkers have faced since 9/11: How do we balance the demands of security and order with our tradition of openness and free expression?

One whimsical answer was offered yesterday by Steve Stollman, a biking advocate who wore a button designed for anyone planning to walk or ride in a group. The button had an arrow pointing in opposite directions. “Please don’t arrest me,” it said. “I’m not with him.”-=–of the ny Times who wrote this article:
NY1 wrote this story after the press conference–

NY1 story

NYPD Pushes For New Rules On Protest, Parade Permits

The NYPD is pushing for new rules on permits for protests and parades in response to recent court rulings that found the current rules too vague. NY1’s Molly Kroon filed the following report.

During the 2004 Republican National Convention, police arrested some 230 protestors demonstrating on the sidewalk on Fulton Street. Those arrests were thrown out by the DA’s office, but new regulations proposed by the NYPD would require permits for all similar protests of 35 people or more. It’s got free speech advocates seething.

“These proposed regulations are a transparent effort to severely limit political protest,” said Donna Lieberman of the New York Civil Liberty Union.

The proposed restrictions wouldn’t just apply to protesters, but to cyclists too. The NYPD wants to require a parade permit for bicyclists of 20 or more and for those who go riding with at least one other cyclist and disobey traffic laws.

“In times of us encouraging people to ride their bicycles together, the city is saying the exact opposite thing,” said cycling advocate Bill DiPaola of Time’s Up! Advocacy Group.

Some see the move as a direct attack on Critical Mass, the group bicycle ride held every month. Members of the group have accused the NYPD of seizing their bikes and obstructing their route. The two are currently locked in a court battle.

“They show the city isn’t this a beautiful, positive celebration, not a demonstration, but a celebration of what our streets could look like, and it is going to affect group rides all over the city,” said DiPaola.

But the NYPD says the new regulations are in response to a recent court decision that found the city’s rules too vague, and they say that the department simply wanted to clarify them. In a statement, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said, “the police always had the authority to make arrests, and continue to have that authority.”

Critics disagree.

“When there is a need to get a permit from the police, then the police invariably try to micro-manage the demonstration and that’s not good for free speech,” said Lieberman.

The NYCLU says it plans to call on the city council to step in if the NYPD moves forward with the new rules. New Yorkers will get an opportunity to comment on the regulations at a public forum being held at police headquarters later next month.

by- Molly Kroon

Then the fair and balanced NYPost came out with this article


TARGET: STREET PEDALERS: Proposed NYPD rules on what constitutes a “regulated” procession: two or more pedestrians, vehicles, bicycles or other “devices” that don’t comply with traffic laws.

July 19, 2006 — EXCLUSIVE
Rebuffed in court from blocking massive bicycle gatherings at Union Square Park, the Police Department is moving to amend its rules so cops can arrest cyclists in groups as small as two if they violate traffic laws, The Post has learned.

The proposed rules – which would crack down on Critical Mass, a bike group whose members swarm through city streets – would also give the NYPD the power to haul in 20 or more cyclists even if they obey traffic regulations but don’t have a permit.

Also targeted would be groups of 35 or more pedestrians “proceeding together along a sidewalk” without pre-approval.

“Each of these types of activity has the likelihood to significantly disrupt vehicular and pedestrian traffic and adversely affect public health and safety, unless subject to regulatory control via the permitting process,” the Police Department said in a statement.

Peter Vallone Jr., chairman of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, agreed, saying that strict enforcement of activities that might block emergency vehicles is prudent in the aftermath of 9/11.

“Anything that impedes emergency vehicles has to be regulated in this day and age, and that’s exactly what the PD is doing here,” said Vallone, a longtime champion of the NYPD.

During the Critical Mass rides, hundreds of cyclists pedal en masse through city streets, often disregarding traffic signals and blocking traffic.

Civil-rights lawyer Norman Siegel charged that the revised regulations are so sweeping, they would make it tough to stage any spontaneous demonstration or get-together.

“It radically changes expressive activity and the right to protest in the City of New York,” he said.

Siegel was one of the lawyers who beat back repeated attempts by the NYPD to reign in hundreds of bicyclists who’ve been gathering the last Friday of the month at Union Square Park for Critical Mass rides.

The new rules were published in the City Record on Monday and a public hearing on them is scheduled for Aug. 23 at Police Headquarters.

In February, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman rejected efforts by the city to block the Critical Mass rides and to punish Time’s Up, an environmental group, for publicizing them.

The judge noted that the city’s regulations don’t make clear what constitutes a “parade or procession,” and suggested it would “be sensible” to specify how large a group has to be to fall into that category.

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said the revised rules would allow paradegoers who obtain permits to engage in activities “that would otherwise be illegal, such as disregarding traffic signals . . . with the police making accommodations, such as the rerouting of pedestrian or vehicular traffic.”

Disputing Siegel, Browne said cops “always had the authority to make arrests, and continue to have that authority.”

The Critical Mass rides have taken place here for more than a decade. Until the summer of 2004 – when the Republican National Convention came to town – there was little interaction with cops.

But that August, police arrested 264 people during a group ride.

and this lovely op-ed came out of the NYPosts Ass: Article

New York Post


July 20, 2006 — GREAT! The cops have finally gotten the go- ahead to bust the political pedal pushers who under the radar call themselves Critical Mass and arrogantly claim they own our roads.

But the cops aren’t going far enough.

There is an unspoken civil war brewing in Manhattan between the kamikaze bike bullies and pedestrians who sadly bow to this cult that ignores every traffic rule in the book – and to our peril.

Vincent Sapone, managing director of the League of Mutual Taxi Owners, who got his taxi medallion in 1967, is on my side in the civil war. “I have a good friend of mine who was hit by one of these crazy nuts and he was off work for nine months. He still walks with a cane and really has never been the same since,” Sapone was saying. “Sue for damages? Who would he sue? The guy disappeared.”

How many times, right outside my office, has a taxi delivered me between 47th and 48th streets on Sixth Avenue about three feet from parked cars on the curbside?

And how many times has some mobile moron on a bike, as I opened the door after paying the fare, crashed into that door trying to illegally squeeze through?

It happens and the rider protests in profanity and yells, “Man, you could have killed me. “Pity I failed.

“You were lucky they didn’t sue you or the taxi driver. It happens you know,” said Sapone.

“This city is very fast to give summonses to yellow cabs because they know they’ll get paid. These bicycle guys who never see a red light or a pedestrian crossing, they don’t get summonses because the city knows they won’t get paid.

“Now how about these pedicabs that are everywhere? “They’re just as bad, take up big space, hold up traffic, ignore the
rules and what about that thing called the octopus? You get a bunch of partygoers, or tourists, many who have had a good time all pedaling this big thing taking up a lot of road. Where is the licensing, where
are their helmets? It’s crazy.”

Sapone points out that all yellow-cab owners are fingerprinted and drug-tested for their medallions: “Frankly, anyone over 16 flying around the city at least should be licensed so they can be accountable.”

There is more than one bike in my garage. They’re for biking down the boardwalk on a gorgeous fresh gift of a day. Merry machines for the rider, not damn maiming machines ridden by pedal punks.

Good to see the Fox owned media advocates killing people with their car doors…The cyclists run into the car doors??? Right like the police batons were broken by protestors running into them.

Oh and riding your bike to work is a civil war with the taxis…right? Taxi’s never break the law, cutting over three lanes to pick up a fair. HA HA HA…Once again the post is a mouth piece to spread propaganda to convince people that bike riders are dangerous and the police should do everything they can to stop them. Right. Lets see what happens when a family of four is run into by a bicycle…a scratch, a cut, maybe a broken bone…now lets see when a family of four is run into by an SUV…DEAD!

As the NYPD tries their best to squeeze the fist on protests…meanwhile the city has been settling a few court cases from the RNC 2004, when all this madness got started…

This article from the NY SUN

Quiet Settlements Being Made With War Protesters

BY JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN – Staff Reporter of the Sun
July 20, 2006

The city has been quietly settling cases with several dozen people arrested during the 2004 Republican National Convention.

The plaintiffs, a mix of protesters and passers-by, are each being offered between $2,500 and $7,500, four lawyers who represent separate groups of plaintiffs said yesterday.

Several dozen people have accepted the offer, although the vast majority of the more than 400 represented in the lawsuits have turned down the offers, the lawyers said. Under the terms of the settlement, the city does not admit any wrongdoing.

A spokeswoman for the city’s law department declined to answer any questions about a settlement, saying the matter involves pending litigation. A spokeswoman for the city comptroller’s office, Laura Rivera, said a tally of plaintiffs who have accepted any settlement and the amount of money disbursed would not be available until today.

About 1,800 protesters and passersby were arrested during the Republican National Convention, according to news reports. Those arrested were brought to Pier 57, a former bus depot on the west side of Manhattan, where they were held in a makeshift detention center, in some cases for more than two days. Many were charged with disorderly conduct or for not having a permit for a rally. Charges were dropped or dismissed in the vast majority of the cases. Their lawyers allege that the arrests were unlawful and the conditions of the detainment were unsafe.

The settlement offer is the first indication that the city is willing to pay several million dollars to rid itself of these lawsuits. So far, the city has taken a strong line against the suits. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has commended his department’s conduct during the convention, during which it balanced the tasks of defending against a potential terrorist attack and policing massive protests.

Because the plaintiffs are represented in dozens of different lawsuits, it is not immediately clear how many plaintiffs have chosen to accept the terms of the settlement.

One attorney, Norman Best, who represents more than 250 plaintiffs, said about 10% of his clients had accepted the city’s offer. He said the city first contacted him with the terms of the settlement March 20.

Several lawyers interviewed say the city did not disclose the formula it used to decide how much money it offered each plaintiff. But in the majority of cases, the city offered $2,501 to those incarcerated for less than 24 hours, $5,001 to those locked up for as many as 48 hours, and $7,501 for those held longer, Mr. Best said.

The terms of the offer provide that the city would pay additional legal fees, ranging between $2,000 and $4,000 for each plaintiff, Mr. Best said. Another attorney involved in the litigation, Martin Stolar, said the dollar figure would be determined after each lawyer submitted a fee application, based on his usual hourly rates.

Some lawyers have called the settlement offer a low-ball figure. But Jonathan Moore, who represents more than 20 plaintiffs, said the monetary sums were “not unreasonable offers from the city.”

Mr. Best said that many of his clients refused to take the settlement because they are eager to go to trial. The lawsuits are currently before Judge Kenneth Karas of U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

“Most of the people feel quite strongly about having their day in court and holding the city responsible,” Mr. Best said, adding that those most inclined to take the settlement reside in states other than New York.

Some attorneys say the city’s overall response to the lawsuits has been frustrating. “The city has decided it will engage in a war of attrition against civil rights plaintiffs and lawyers because … they want to punish people for having brought the cases and they want to prevent the lawyers for them from recovering a reasonable fee,” Mr. Moore said. He said he bases that assessment on the never-ending depositions city lawyers have taken from some of his clients.

At least two of those depositions have stretched to near the 12-hour mark, he said, and involved questions ranging from their political beliefs to whether they have ever been in therapy.Mr. Moore said the depositions were aimed at intimidating the plaintiffs from pressing on with their claims.

In 2005, the city agreed to pay more than $230,000 following a state judge’s preliminary contempt finding against the city relating to its detention of many of the protesters for longer than the standard 24 hour

Police commisiner had this to say in the post…hmmm the police coRay kelly had this to say:



July 21, 2006 — ONCE again, the usual critics are charging the NYPD with undermining free speech – and, once again, the facts say otherwise.

The charges center on the department’s recent clarification of its rules on protests, marches and parades – clarifications suggested by Supreme Court Justice Michael D. Stallman.

The NYPD had sought a restraining order to prevent reckless mass bike-rides that jeopardize public safety. The judge told us that the department’s rules were vague and recommended that we be more specific in defining what constituted a parade or a march. “For many reasons,” wrote Justice Stallman, “it would be sensible . . . to develop and promulgate criteria for what constitutes a parade or procession, as a function of its size.”

So we did. Where the rules didn’t specify numbers, the amended version now stipulates that groups of 35 or more would require a permit for a march along a sidewalk. Groups of 20 or more using bicycles, or other vehicles, would require a permit. Smaller groups obeying traffic regulations would not.

None of the clarifications in any way impinge on free speech or the message behind a march, parade, or protest. They impose no new penalties or punishments, and are in complete conformity with the conceptual framework of existing law. In short, the NYPD is simply providing the clarity to its regulations that the courts indicated was lacking.

The “bicycle protests” that triggered all this had become a real public-safety problem. In years past, these consisted of cyclists who stopped for lights and otherwise observed traffic regulations, riding in groups in Manhattan to advocate alternatives to cars or for the sheer fun of it. In many instances, organizers would advise the police in advance of the routes they planned to take. But, beginning a few months before the 2004 Republican National Convention, the rides were hijacked by those apparently intent on commandeering the streets for themselves.

Participants took it upon themselves to block crosstown streets so they could run lights and have the avenues for bikes alone. They posed grave risks, not only to the sick and injured waiting for an ambulance to arrive, but to others. A news helicopter captured the image of one of the cyclist “corkers” punching a motorist who had sought to breach an ersatz blockade.

The Police Department’s permit process effectively allows activities that would otherwise be illegal – such as disregarding traffic signals or blocking vehicular or pedestrian traffic – to go forward, with the police making accommodations such as rerouting traffic. The NYPD’s standing offer to work with groups to accommodate these rides has been refused.

Every day, the department performs the great juggling act of accommodating street fairs, protests, parades and performances of one sort or another – while also safeguarding the participants and the public, and without letting the rest of the city grind to a halt.

That means that, when a demonstration fills blocks of the East Side of Manhattan, we make sure the radioactive isotopes or human organs that medical centers in the vicinity need still arrive on time. It also means we provide emergency lanes for ambulances or fire trucks that might otherwise be delayed in the added congestion that such events inevitably cause. (Similarly, the police accommodate sidewalk pickets while allowing everyone else to get to their apartment buildings, hotels, or places or work.)

This give-and-take proceeds daily without incident in the vast majority of cases. Last year, the NYPD assigned special police details to accommodate over a thousand of such events below 59th Street alone.

By responding to the courts’ concerns about specificity, the department clarified the rules on parade permits without undermining, in any way, the public’s right to voice dissent or any other opinion.

Ray Kelly is New York City Police commissioner

What Ray Kelly is misinformed about:

1) The only reason the NYPD wants more strict rulings on protest is they haven’t been able to stop Critical Mass. They’ve been told by a federal and state judge that it is not illegal to ride your bike in a group. Breaking traffic laws is illegal and punishable by summons…but that is not good enough for the NYPD…they want to make arrests. They are also using Critical Mass as an excuse to be able to make arrests at all demonstrations in NYC.

2) If Critical Mass was so reckless and jeopardize public safety why were they allowed to go on for ten years with the police going on every ride and often allowing the bikes to block traffic?

3) The goal of Critical Mass is not to block traffic for the sake of tying up the city and preventing emergency vehicles from saving lives. Rather it is to stop traffic so the ride can stay together…which is almost always in MOTION. Drivers are inconvenienced for about 10 minutes at a time. Maybe for two whole lights to change.

4) A bicycle has never killed a pedestrian…cars kill bicyclists everyday on the street and the police respond with NO INVESTIGATION…rather they blame the victim.

5) A group of 500 bicycles can move out of the way much quicker then a traffic jam of cars thus allowing emergency vehicles to pass. This has been witnessed on several critical masses when the police use our tax resources to make ambulances drive through a crowd of bikers and then the truck pulls over at Starbucks. Why does a fire engine always appear right when critical mass starts? Because the police fake the emergency.

6) Permits are never issued on time to political functions. It is always a struggle and always meet with red tape often leading to the use of lawyers to fight the battle which generally exceeds the time of permit. Often the parks department or other civic agencies assist the police in blocking permits for political functions and come up with flimsy excuses like…”we don’t want to damage the grass or we are planting flowers that day.”

7) The ride wasn’t taken over by any new forces hellbent on anarchy and destruction. Yes, the ridership may have pushed the envelope by going on motor ways like the FDR, but always with NYPD supervision who did nothing.

8) The ride only became targeted by the police during the RNC, when they had written instructions to shut down all marches, protests and bike rides. Meanwhile they have been settling many of these RNC cases with buy outs proving the falseness of the arrests in the first place and costing the city hundreds of dollars.

9) The NYPD wastes hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax payer money on law enforcement for a BIKE RIDE. Multiple helicopters which have been used to monitor people making out on rooftops, video surveillance and especially on man power and equipment that could better be serving the community fighting legitimate crime.

10) If Ray Kelly is so concerned about public safety, he wouldn’t have such short sighted goals like stopping critical mass…the whole city would be working harder to encourage bike riding for less cars in the street, less oil consumption, cleaner air, healthier people and a cleaner environment.
“Let a thousand protests bloom”

Errol Louis, of the Daily News sat in for Brian Lehrer and had a talk about recent news events…on NPR. He spoke with Diane Cardwell…city hall bureau chief for the NY Times and Bob Hardt, executive producer and political director at NY1.

Here is the link to listen to
the show

It was also discussed on WBAI news.

5 comments to Whats been going on…Recap of the critical massness.

  • Nick James

    I, for one, will be calling the appropriate offices twice a day to apply for a parade permit for my commute to work and my commute home, just in case there happens to be another biker next to me. If a few more people join in, it might help to point out the absurdity.

  • Chris

    Crazy pathetic shit

  • Paul Tay

    Critical Madness.

  • nick

    it’s a good thing the nypd can waste the city’s money pursuing this BS when the city cant even afford to keep schools and firehouses open.

  • Anonymous

    Nick James’s comment above is great. I really do think people should follow suit.

    But on a more serious, downer note, I think Critical Mass in New York has just grown too big to do any good, and if all those riders would just redirect their energy into legitimate demands to City officials for better and safer cycling infrastructure, the cycling community would get farther. I’m afraid to say that currently CM is actually doing more harm to the cause of cycling than good.