Slaughter on 10th Avenue?

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Anonymous's picture

"I noticed there were stories on both the radio and TV news this morning warning the good citizens of tonight's impending Critical Mass ride. One included an interview with Police Commissioner Kelly, who described the ride as ""dangerous"" for provoking ""fistfights"" with motorists.

Think we're... Waiting for The Clampdown?"

Anonymous's picture
Carol (not verified)

The scooter cops were out in force at Union Square just waiting to bust all those law-breaking cyclists and confiscate their bikes. Anybody hear if there were arrests?

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
My view

"There was a big turnout but I would say fewer than 1,000. At the 17th St. entrance to Union Square, the NYPD was handing out flyers announcing, among other things, that ""it is illegal to ride a bicycle in a procession on the public streets within New York City"" without a permit. (This is part of the Administrative Code of NYC.) The cops were not unfriendly but clearly concerned with keeping an upper hand.

Before the ride got started at around 7:30, the police and some riders apparently negotiated a route that the ride would follow and for which the police would provide an escort. We headed up Park Ave., west on 57th, down 7th through Times Square. (This has become the usual route; I'm tired of it but this wasn't the time for a change.) Scooter cops blocked almost every intersection to the let ride pass.

Many pedestrians applauded us as we left Union Square and elsewhere. Several news copters hovered overhead, and media cameramen were everywhere waiting for the action. Let's see the arrests, man!

The mood was anxious. Most riders I spoke with (I was handing out NYCLU bust cards, just in case) were at least somewhat concerned about confrontation with the cops. But they seemed to be expecting, or hoping, that the ride would go as they usually did--without problem.

The ride went ahead almost as jovial as usual, hooting, hollering, bell ringing. However, not having to block the intersections ourselves made it less participatory. Many riders, mostly young men, thanked the cops as they passed. I scolded three yahoos yelling comments about cops having guns; though they represent a minuscule part of the group, it's that element that I worry about getting out of hand.

On 57th Street I saw one of my young Critical Mass friends and then my new yoga teacher. On Broadway at 36th St., the group had come to a stop and then turned east. I was handing out the last of my bust cards at the end of the group when a lot of police vans with flashing lights approached. It was creepy but I think they were just ""sweeping"" the end of the ride.

On 36th St., some cyclists began turning back and dispersing. I don't know what was happening ahead, but I went up to 38th St. at that point and headed home, so I could get ready for tomorrow's ride. Splinter groups were headed west on 37th St., followed (I don't think chased) by scooter cops.

When I got home, I turned on NY1, where they said a few people had been arrested as the group headed back to Union Square. They showed two young men standing patiently with hands cuffed behind back. The situation hardly looked out of control--so who knows what they got the guys for. I just hope they had one of my bust cards.

One a more optimistic note, Mayor Bloomber appears to agree in principle with Times-Up. According to NY1 Web site this afternoon:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg says although the message may be valid, the method of protesting is not, and said traffic jams caused by the group will not be tolerated.

""They believe that cars are a bad thing, everybody should ride bicycles, and they have a right to disrupt traffic to push their favorite method of transportation,"" said Bloomberg. ""I don't know that I disagree with them in terms of cars causing pollution or cars using a disproportionate amount of the street for one passenger, but you don't have a right to go and stop other people.""

For the moment, it appears that auto drivers are the only group told not to stop or interfere with the free movement of other people. But at least the mayor sees the logic behind it.

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
An interesting precedent

"""The Great Bicycle Protest of 1896."" Thanks to Jen B. for the link."

cycling trips