The cops attacked last week's 'Critical Mass' ride

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Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)

Was anyone there who can verify this account?

If this is so, does anybody know what the police is trying to prove by cracking down on Critical Mass?

Even though Lance is big news and road bike riding is growing, between the loss of shoulders on 9W and the crack down on Critical Mass, our world is shrinking.

Anonymous's picture
Fixer (not verified)
My 2 cents.

"Even though Lance is big news and road bike riding is growing...

Yeah, and therein lies the problem. When someone says ""bicycling"", what image comes to mind? A Lance look-alike in lycra on a $5K carbon race bike, or an average Joe in street clothes riding to work on a hybrid?

The bicycle was invented as a means of transportation, but, even for most ""cyclists"", it's a hobby, a recreational activity. How many NYCCer's cycled to work today?

When the streets are filled with bankers, lawyers, teachers and doctors, all going about their daily rounds on bikes, the real ""critical mass"" will be achieved, and the Powers That Be will have to start taking cyclists concerns seriously."

Anonymous's picture
Cat (not verified)

I don't quite see your point. The streets of New York ARE filled with people going about their daily business on bikes (though there could be more, indeed, and would be if we were publicly protected, or at least respected)

Are you saying that the carbon-fiber/lycra image does the cycling community damage? If anything it's the delivery guys and gals riding aggressively and against traffic who make us look like hoodlums. Or maybe me, running every light (vigilantly) up Eighth Avenue. Critical Mass, for all the things i don't like about it, at least shows the cycling community in cross-section. No one stratum of it deserves to be scapegoated for the intolerance of the police.

And incidentally, i did ride my bike to work today.

Anonymous's picture
Fixer (not verified)
2c plus...

Are you saying that the carbon-fiber/lycra image does the cycling community damage?

No, sorry, I didn't mean to convey that. I count myself amongst their number, though I probably resemble Anquetil more than Armstrong.

My point was that even though Lance might be on the cover of People, it doesn't translate into public acceptance of bicycling as transportation.

Anonymous's picture
Mordecai Silver (not verified)
Is Lance a cycling advocate?

"In 2001, a bill was filed in the Texas legislature that would require cyclists to ride single file and would prohibit groups of more than three on farm-to-market and ranch-to-market roads that don't have shoulders. The League of American Bicyclists used Lance's name to help defeat the bill. Here's what Lance wrote in an e-mail to the Austin American-Statesman:

""Bottom line is that I'm appalled. When things like this happen and people see and hear about it all over the world, then they laugh at us. They think, 'This is where the winner of two Tours lives, and now he can't train with his team on the most logical/best roads?'""

So be grateful that, if you're training with your team for the Tour de France, Lance is a cycling advocate for you."

Anonymous's picture
Cat (not verified)
deleted (nm)
Anonymous's picture
Mordecai Silver (not verified)
Commuting to work

"Fixer wrote: ""When the streets are filled with bankers, lawyers, teachers and doctors, all going about their daily rounds on bikes, the real 'critical mass' will be achieved, and the Powers That Be will have to start taking cyclists concerns seriously.""

From Sunday's NYT Book Review, a review of David Herlihy's ""Bicycle"":
""Herlihy's prodigious research is always entertaining, as are the period illustrations that copiously grace the volume. There are bicycle tales, like an account from Bicycling World in 1908 about Harvard's septuagenarian president, Charles W. Eliot, who cycled the several miles between his home and his office: 'Every clear morning' Eliot 'jumps on his bicycle...like a boy in his teens.'""

Can you imagine the president of a great university riding a bicycle to his office today?

Most people (especially those who live outside the city) have no real notion of the bicycle as a practical means of transportation."

Anonymous's picture
Yogi (not verified)
It's like riding a bike

>Can you imagine the president of a great university riding a bicycle to his office today?

People are people no matter what their status in society (Einstein credits coming up with The Theory of Relativity while biking, –well maybe not, but he did ride). They can ride a bike to work as they can make regrettable sexist comments in public (as the current Harvard pres. did recently). Doctors do ride to work, just not in great numbers. The separation line could be drawn between the people who ride because they have to, and those that ride because they want to. If you do it long enough, most people end up loving it. Some people don’t do it because the general perception is that it’s not as safe as walking (not true), and driving (definitely not). There is also social stigma towards using a bike for transportation. Can you picture someone (who's not Robin Williams) showing up on the red carpet at the Oscars on a Pimped out Beach Cruiser.

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)
But what about the crackdown of CM?

All this is a healthy discussion on the merits of cycling. We are preaching to the choir. What I want to know is what does the NYPD expect to gain by coming down hard on Critical Mass? We can all see there is a momentum to their actions. My perception is that most of CM are average Jills and Joes, not outlaws out to destroy the government. As cycling is close to our hearts, understanding this issue is important to us all.

Anonymous's picture
Joe Soda (not verified)
Revenge?

Isn't the crackdown on CM basically motivated by revenge? Wasn't CM the only demonstration that embarrassed His Honor Rudolph I mean Bloomberg in front of his Republican friends this summer? CM is to Rudolph I mean Bloomberg what the Yippies were to Hizzoner Richard J. Daley in 1968. Days of Rage coming?

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)
Too simple

The mayor wasn't even a Republican. The only reason he switched parties was to get on the ballot. And I can't believe he is that vindictive. He is all business.

Anonymous's picture
Joe Soda (not verified)
Let's call a spade a spade.

Maybe he wasn't born a Republican but he is one now. Does he have a lot of friends who are Democrats? I don't recall him campaigning for any last November. I agree that he is all business--pro business, business as a second language, the business of America is business, etc. And these days, hard as it may be to believe, a public demonstration against Republicans in this city is bad for business.

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)
I beg to differ

No, he made all sorts of excuses to avoid campaigning with Republican candidates. And continuing to crack down on cycling after the fact, on a botched PR nightmare does not add up. The Mayor is too smart to keep playing a bad hand. This man is very bright. You don't become a selfmade billionaire by picking on small fries. He thinks big and is into reinventing himself. I think this is NYPD business. But why?

Anonymous's picture
Joe Soda (not verified)
In spite of being a Republican, he's still human.

"And has the flaws of one, regardless of his talent for making money. You don't become a ""self-made billionaire"" by being a nice guy and letting people embarrass you without paying for it. His predecessor would never have let that demonstration happen. If it is an NYPD thing and he's not telling the cops to back off, it is another form of payback."

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
From the small fry to the fire

One also doesn't become a self-made billionaire by sticking up for small fry--let alone by challenging the NYPD brass for the sake of nonconforming bicyclists. I have nothing against the Mayor--have even spotted him on the subway in a nice pinstriped suit--but what does he have to gain politically from getting involved in this?

For now, the pride and power of some big bruised egos are at stake, especially in light of the federal court rulings concerning CM and the NYPD's treatment of protestors during the RNC. Chief Smolka has to let us know who's boss. And the officers on duty will be instructed to continue arresting cyclists participating in Critical Mass under invented pretexts.

This use of force is clearly intended to intimidate people, to keep us from wanting to participate in Critical Mass or punishing us if we do. Ironically, coercive tactics like this tend to create the militant opposition that they're supposedly combatting. Ah, our own little War On Terror.

Until cyclists exercise our political muscles and demand our right to safely use the streets, the NYPD and drivers generally will continue to harass us as they like with few repercussions. It's our battle, and no one else is going to take care of it for us. Certainly not TA.

Hank correctly points out that Critical Mass is at least mobilizing people on this issue. In my experience, more ordinary citizens support Critical Mass than don't--at a minimum they support the concept. Drivers who hate it would hate cyclists no matter what. And cyclists who are opposed have their own personal reasons for doing so--because they believe in individual solutions, and so on.

Why should Bloomberg stick his neck out for a constituency that can't even agree that it is one? There are nearly 2,000 of us in this club, for goodness sake--many with legal expertise.

At a minimum, the NYCC should begin to create a list of goals and demands and start speaking out on them. Hank's suggestion that the club rally around the 9W bike lane would be a good first step in our political education.

Word also has it that Norman Siegel's campaign for public advocate will back cyclists' rights. Should this come to pass, we should have some kind of rapport with any candidate that supports our interests.

Anonymous's picture
Judith Tripp (not verified)
Bloomberg a democrat?

I had no idea, or if I did it's been obliterated by his Republican ways. His views on women's reproductive choices are very republican, I believe.

Anonymous's picture
Ivy (not verified)
Wrong.

"Do you really think New Yorkers would elect an anti-abortion, socially conservative Republican?! Try googling ""Bloomberg"" and ""pro-choice""."

Anonymous's picture
Judith Tripp (not verified)
Letter from Gifford Miller

Right, I doubt it, Ivy, but I just received in the mail some missive from Gifford Miller's office which mentioned two instances where Bloomberg had vetoed something to do with abortion rights -- sorry I'm really hazy on the details but I took away from this that he (Bloomberg) was joining in the general Republican pro-choice erosion process.

Anonymous's picture
Christian Edstrom (not verified)

Or one could assume that Gifford Miller is joining in the general bi-partisan election mudslinging process.

:)

- Christian

Anonymous's picture
Chris T. (not verified)
Fixer, what an oxymorron

"When You stop posting anonymously, then your views could be taken seriously.

There are some things that you have posted on other topics that may have contributed to the topic under discussion.
Your quote: ""When the streets are filled with bankers, lawyers, teachers and doctors, all going about their daily rounds on bikes, the real ""critical mass"" will be achieved, and the Powers That Be will have to start taking cyclists concerns seriously."" ---
Well, that is just trolling for controversey. I would claim that you pose an elitist attitude, but since we can't tell if you are an NYCC member or not, it's pointless.

Hank Schiffman is asking us to assert our rights as cyclists. But as a total cypher like yourself, you wouldn't even exist on a petition. So stop ghosting around and become real.
"

Anonymous's picture
Ivy (not verified)

Are you kidding? Did you actually read his posts? While I didn't write them, I certainly do agree with them. What's controversial about saying that true critical mass is achieved when bicylces are used for transportation not just recreation?

If anyone is an elitist, it's someone who thinks that you are only entitled to an opinion if you are a club member.

Anonymous's picture
Chris T. (not verified)
Don't post anonymously

"Ivy, I am not saying that somebody has to be an NYCC member to have an opinion or post here. I would prefer that people who want to be taken seriously on this board post with their names, not anonymously.

""What's controversial about saying that true critical mass is achieved when bicylces are used for transportation not just recreation?"" -- I agree with you -- that is not controversial.

But saying that Bankers, Lawyers, and Doctors need to be bicycling as their main transportation to achieve critical mass, That is an elitest approach or attitude. It says that if you are not in the three above groups, then you don't count towards a critical mass of cyclists. THAT is controversial.

I say that more people must cycle as part of their normal transportation, regardless of profession.
"

Anonymous's picture
Fixer (not verified)
Huh?

But saying that Bankers, Lawyers, and Doctors need to be bicycling as their main transportation to achieve critical mass, That is an elitest approach

I think were actually in agreement here. The point I was trying to make is that if more folks (of all socio-economic strata, OK?) were to ride bikes for transportation, we'd all be better off. No elitism intended.


I would prefer that people who want to be taken seriously on this board post with their names

Oh, you'd prefer that, so we should all comply? C'mon...

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
Who rides a bike in NYC?

"Several years ago I was hired by the NYC DoT to create ads for Bike Month. One of the ads I showed which they liked had the headline, ""We Bike Here."" Surrounding it was the name and occupations of hundreds and hundreds of riders--all in very, very small, 6 pt. type.

Among them were judge Harold Rothwax, journalist Murray Kempton, writer George Plimpton, Bronx boro president Fernando Ferrar, NYC boro president Ruth Messinger, publisher John Kennedy, Jr., and comedian Robin Williams.

The DoT culled that list with a fine eye and told me I would have to remove Ferrar, Messinger, Kennedy, and could I vouch that Williams didn't donate to Democrats?

I asked why, they bike here. It was a non-partisan ad, funded by the non-partisan federal transporation department to promote a non-partisan activity.

The answer: Because the ad would have to be vetted at (Giuliani's) City Hall and the list couldn't contain those names, even mixed in--in 6 pt. type--among hundreds of others!

I said I'd be willing to put in young Andrew Giuliani's name if someone vouched he rode a bike in the city, but that I wasn't going to remove those other names.

You who know me will know how this ended.

______

Hank Schiffman asked why do the cops do what they do to CM? While I'm congenitally grumpy about cops who targets cyclists for minor infractions while overlooking drivers who commit ones with far greater potential harm, if a cyclist is breaking the law, I recognize the right, the legitimacy, and even the responsibility of a cop to ticket him; so I confine this response to police harrassing, citing, or arresting LAWFUL cyclists or confiscating their lawfully locked bikes—as does happen.

I think it was Carol who had what I take to be precisely the right answer. Answer: Because they can with total, absolute, and complete impunity. There is no danger, no difficulty, no risk involved. It's easy. It's safe. We're individually weak and present no threat. We're collectively weak and have no constituency they need heed.

If the police were apprehensive of some reprisal they might be more temperate. But they aren't; therefore they aren't.

QED, at least from my jaudiced, skewed, biased, tilted perspective."

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)

That the police do what they can get away with rings true. Yet why would the mayor approve of it? I can't believe our current mayor would be actively supporting this policy. He is not the same man as our prior mayor. There is an unmistakable meanness here that reminds me of police aciton in the Chicago Democratic Convention of, was it, '68? I thought this sort of headbanging against demonstrators was as dead as dinosaurs in current America. Where is the outrage?

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
USA Today on convention arrests

"[I got this from e-bikes; good article though nothing specifically about cyclists; thanks db]

Protesters challenge NYC arrests By Martha T. Moore, USA TODAY

NEW YORK -- Cindy Fiore came to New York on Aug. 31 to see her daughter, go shopping and protest the president during the Republican convention. She got home to Connecticut 36 hours later, dirty, hungry, sore, fingerprinted and, she says, angry ""on every level.""
.....
Despite the sweeping arrests, more than three-quarters of the people arrested during the convention had their cases dismissed outright or dropped in exchange for a promise to behave for six months. Fewer than 10% have pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor or violation. And out of 28 trials, 10 protesters have been convicted.

The handful of convictions and large number of dismissals are seen by protesters and their advocates as evidence that police wanted to take demonstrators off the streets and intimidate potential participants into staying home.
....
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-02-06-nyc-protesters_x.htm
"

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)

That the police do what they can get away with rings true. Yet why would the mayor approve of it? I can't believe our current mayor would be actively supporting this policy. He is not the same man as our prior mayor. There is an unmistakable meanness here that reminds me of police aciton in the Chicago Democratic Convention of, was it, '68? I thought this sort of headbanging against demonstrators was as dead as dinosaurs in current America. Where is the outrage?

Anonymous's picture
art (not verified)
CM

I believe most of the current attitude towards CM has to do with the fact that during the CM that took place while the Republican Convention was in town, it turned more into a protest of the Bush administration then the issues that CM stands for. This gave the police their right to use their power and crack down. If the politics of protest against the Bush administration did not take place at that time, or were separate from, and the issues of CM were strictly adhered to, I don't believe the city's administration would have had the problems with CM as they do. I think the issues, and for good reason, were confused with one another.

I hope my thoughts are clear.

Anonymous's picture
Michael (not verified)
Upping the ante

The August CM did indeed have an anti-Bush theme and the NYPD used this as a justification to target CM participants. However that CM was a mostly peaceful event and the majority of the people who were arrested were rounded up without a warning to disperse as the event concluded.

Basically the NYPD used the August CM as a run-through of the crowd control tactics they later used during the convention itself. They got to try out their snazzy new scooters and cast their wide nets.

Unfortunately it seems as if it's the NYPD who continues to up the ante, even months later.

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)

Both the 2 prior posts seem plausable but they do not address the reason for the contiuning crackdown. We are not talking about a popular issue here. CM is not considered a terrorist threat. This has the potential to be a political liability for a mayor who is trying to get reelected. All it takes is an unforeseen accident to occur during a crackdown and the issue will be exploited by potential political rivals and the media. Is the NYPD [still] using this as their testing grounds for demonstration tactics? This is an active move by the NYPD requiring planning and a hierarchy of command. Someone or some people have done risk assessment on this policy.

Anonymous's picture
art (not verified)
The City's

major administration is republican. The republicans were in town, Bloomberg wants to be re-elected, CM was demonstrating, many participants of CM were demonstrating anti-Bush sentiments. I don't think it is hard to understand why the police are cracking down.

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)

Art,
Am I missing something? You are saying that by beating up anti Bush demonstrators in a traditionally Democrat voting city, Mayor Bloomberg would be following a plausible strategy for reelection?

Anonymous's picture
art (not verified)
You are missing the point Hank

What would a Republican convention be without a demonstration, and without the police cracking down upon it? It certainly looks good to the mayor's political party that he is taking care of things.

Strange that a Republican mayor was voted to office in a traditionally Democratic town, don't you think?

Anonymous's picture
art (not verified)
Plausible? Think about it.

If you ask many a layman if they know of CM, many will say that they heard of it, but don't know why they protest. The CM that took place during the Republican convention brought CM to the forefront, not because of what they stand for, but because it was confused with the anti-Bush demonstrators that were mixed in with it. It probably would have been better to cancel CM to a later date and let the anti-Bush demonstrators have their day. CM was only asking for trouble carrying out their ride that night and unfortunately those participants got more then they deserved.

Anonymous's picture
Robert (not verified)
Occam's razor

"I love cycling and I vote Democrat but on a message board where Bill Clinton and Noam Chomsky anchor the two ends of political discourse let me offer an alternative explanation for why the police crack down on CM. Its considered by many to be a public nuisance. Nothing more, nothing less.

It snarls traffic for the purpose of making a political statement. Now you can make many arguments in favor of the ride, and perhaps these arguments even outweigh the arguments against the ride. But you can't simply deny the other side its point. And last I checked the police were more likely to be on the side of law and order as opposed to social progress.

""Occam's razor is a logical principle attributed to the mediaeval philosopher William of Occam (or Ockham). The principle states that one should not make more assumptions than the minimum needed. This principle is often called the principle of parsimony. It underlies all scientific modelling and theory building. It admonishes us to choose from a set of otherwise equivalent models of a given phenomenon the simplest one. In any given model, Occam's razor helps us to ""shave off"" those concepts, variables or constructs that are not really needed to explain the phenomenon. By doing that, developing the model will become much easier, and there is less chance of introducing inconsistencies, ambiguities and redundancies.""
-source: some online dictionary

in other words:

""Never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity.""
""When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.""


"

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)

Robert,
Your explanation is the best to date. A continuation of a policy thought to solve a perceived law and order problem. Art's explanation doesn't address the ongoing crackdown, just the one during the RNC.

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
History quiz

Hank,

Who was it who said that our purpose is not to understand the world but to change it?

(Honest, Mr. Gonzalez, I'm just kidding!)

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
Occam's razor now better known by an acromyn

"K.I.S.S.

FYI, the February issue of The Ride magazine carries an article by Richard Fries entitled ""The Shame of New York City, Bloomberg's Goons Go After Cyclists."" Unfortunately (or not, as you prefer) there's no link to it on their webpage so ya gotta go buy it.

"

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