Looks like we’re not a bunch of anarchist bike riders complaining about police misconduct, after all.
This week a landmark settlement was handed down from the city to pay participants of the monthly critical mass ride for harassment and false arrest.
Read more from the New York Times.
N.Y. / Region Section
Bike Riders in New York Win Settlement
By CATE DOTY
Published: October 18, 2010
The city agreed on Monday to pay nearly $1 million to participants in the monthly Critical Mass bicycle rides who claimed they had been wrongly detained and arrested by police officers.
The lawsuit, originally filed in 2007, represented the claims of 83 riders who had been arrested or ticketed by police during the rides from September 2004 to January 2006. The awards to the plaintiffs range from $500 for those who were cited for minor infractions, to $35,000 for a plaintiff who was arrested multiple times and was injured because of the arrests, said David B. Rankin, one of the three lawyers who represented the riders. About half the settlement will go toward legal fees.
Read the entire article here.
The environmental action group Time’s Up, who has often been falsely targeted as organizers of Critical Mass, (a spontaneous event with no
leaders) released this statement about the positive impact this ride has had on the city and the bike community.
The bike ride that helped change the whole city.
In New York City during the 1990′s, bicycling was extremely dangerous. The number one complaint of cyclists was always safety. Group bicycle rides, like the critical mass, were one of the few places where cyclists could ride together and be safe. Besides their safe and fun dynamic, the group rides steadily attracted new riders which in turn built up the confidence in the riders to become everyday commuters.
In early 2000, the New York City critical mass started gaining huge popularity due to it’s celebratory spirit and safe community environment. Bikers of all types would meet the last Friday of every month, as they do in over two hundred cities around the globe, for the monthly critical mass rides. The critical mass ride in New York City has always been a place where new riders could feel safe while building a strong community voice for non polluting transportation.
The cyclists were also fed up with the lack of safe bike infrastructure, and were continuously putting pressure on the City for more bike lanes, bridge access and green infrastructure that most cities around the world already were enjoying.
Some short sighted few in the New York City Police Department attacked the critical mass riders with a vengeance. They tried everything from law suits, tickets, arrests, and harassment, to violence, spying, undercover agitation, divisionary propaganda, and even going to the point of cutting locks and stealing peoples bikes to try and stop the bike movement. However, the bikers were persistent and adopted slogans like ‘Still We Ride!’ despite the harassment.
Eventually, after much persistence and global media embarrassment, the bicycle community got their way and New York City hired a new and bike friendly D.O.T commissioner who had vision. Today, our new greener, safer and bike friendly city is now enjoyed by all. In fact, the very spot in Times Square where each month thousands of cyclists raised their bikes over their heads is now an auto free zone.
Thank you New York City critical mass for this positive sustainable change!
This is a good time to reflect on the critical mass ride. If you have any comments or stories from past experiences with the ride, please share them.