Critical Mass Has to Have a Permit for Big Bike Rides, Says Judge

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In 2007 NYPD, fed up with the big, rowdy Critical Mass bike events, made up a new parade regulation requiring all bicycle gatherings of 50 or more to get a permit. (Critical Mass usually involves hundreds of bikes.) The Five Borough Bike Club filed suit, claiming the arbitrary reg violated cyclists' rights.

In District Court today, Judge Lewis Kaplan came down on the cops' side: The regulation is no Constitutional violation, and will be allowed to stand.

The cycling advocates at Transportation Alternatives, which filed an amicus brief with the plaintiffs, aren't happy about that. "Bicycles don't obstruct traffic," reacted communications director Wiley Norvell. "Bicyclists are traffic."

Norvell also said that "NYPD crafted a regulation that would allow them to crack down on Critical Mass," and that it's "just too clear" the regulation is necessarily "selectively and arbitrarily enforced... They've put something on the books that affects potentially hundreds of events every years -- like historical bike tours, such as the Columbia professor [Dr. Kenneth Jackson's] bike tours, to say nothing of the small rides that take place during Bike Month."

TransAlt also testified against the regulation before the city council. They're not sure how they're going to deal with this setback. Time's Up, traditional organizers of the ride, have a Critical Mass scheduled for February 26th.

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