NYC sues enviro/biking group

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Anonymous's picture

"""Suit seeks prior restraint of materials promoting Critical Mass and a state injunction against the ride.

New York City filed a lawsuit this week, seeking to prevent the TIME'S UP! nonprofit environmental group from promoting or advertising events that the city alleges to be illegal. The lawsuit also states that TIME'S UP! and the general public cannot participate in riding or gathering at the Critical Mass bike ride. It claims that any event whatsoever with 20 or more persons require a permit.""

Prior restraint, folks--think about what that means.



Anonymous's picture
Natalia Lincoln (not verified)

"(1) How is Critical Mass suddenly ""illegal"" after so many years? It seems to me the city is just still P.O.'d about the Republican Convention fun and games.

(2) Is there a lawyer in the house?"

Anonymous's picture
my thought (not verified)

"It is and has been illegal to organize a mass ride without a permit. However, the judge did clearly rule last year that an ""unorganized"" Critical Mass ride was legal.

But the 'Times Up' group has now begun advertising and promoting Critical Mass since it was ruled legal. Which in effect now makes it an organized ride and not legal.

If the ride 'just happened' the city couldn't do anything about it. When people post stuff on the internet and invite you to the after party, it ceases to be a legal 'unorganized' ride.

How about that?"

Anonymous's picture
Natalia Lincoln (not verified)


Does this mean that all of NYCC's and 5BBC's rides are also illegal? Do we get permits for our rides?

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)

Time's Up (among others) has promoted Critical Mass and held afterparties for years.

Nor are the sizable crowds anything new. Critical Mass rides in good weather had been attracting a thousand people since at least 2003.

The city is hardening its intransigent position because it doesn't want to back down or admit the errors it committed during RNC. It doesn't want a popular movement that checks its authority, however abusive. To achieve vindication, it is trying to harass Time's Up out of existence by exhausting the group's meager resources, and to prevent it from appealing for public support. It's appallingly obvious by now that, for the NYPD at least, this conflict has nothing to do with protecting public safety, least of all that of cyclists.

I haven't read them, but the city's briefs can be seen here:


P.S. Time's Up needs a firewall/router to fend off computer viruses. Anyone have one to donate? (D*Link and Linksys are two names that were mentioned.) Please email me--thanks.

Anonymous's picture
Banana Guy (not verified)
If more than 19 riders show up for one of my rides...

do we get to go to jail, too?

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
A weekly tidal wave of permit applications. Braun, you there?

"Natalia Lincoln and Banana Guy have it just right: if any organized ride consisting of twenty or more people is deemed a gathering for which a permit must be granted in order to be lawful, then our SIG rides and many of our regular club rides are illegal...unless we apply for and are granted a permit for them.

It occurs to me we might well subject the permit granting office to requests for all our rides eveery week (under the pretext we don't know how many people may show up for them--possibly twenty or more) to the point the permit granting office is awash in the requests...until they relent; and, if they relent for one, then, by extension, they would be held to that standard obliging them to relent for all.

What's wrong with this wonderfully subversive idea--and who would think you could be subversive by strictly adhering to the requirements of a law?--is we don't really want to invest the city with the authority and cede them authority to grant (or withhold permission for) permits. Worse yet, should they turn down a request and we ride anyhow, then the ride really IS illegal.

On the other hand, it would oblige the city to devote resources (personnel and money) it really doesn't want to use in that fashion to handling our requests.

But how ""amusing"" it would be for us to bring an action against the city for withholding permission or failure to act on a request in timely fashion if it ever did. And couldn't Time's Up cite our being given a permit as precedent for itsself when it is denied one and argue their being denied one was arbitrary and capricious? (Well, probably not once the city would cite our routes out-of-town compared to Time's Up's in-town routes. On the other hand, we likely violate the same percentage of red lights as does Time's Up: 100%. So, again, if the city clamps down on them for pouring through red lights while we do so with impunity, then maybe TU does have an ""arbitrary and capricious"" or ""selective enforcement of the law"" argument.

As for selective enforcement, let me remind you the NYCC was a co-plaintiff in a 1992-93 suit against the City and its Parks Dept. for its having imposed a 15MPH speed limit on bikes in Central Park. We lost.

I once again remind my readers I've dropped out of law school not once but twice so instead of listening to me, call Rick Braun. Rick? You out there? Come in.

Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
But could it backfire?


Your suggestion may be amusing, but I suspect the city would not have a sense of humour on this subject, especially if they lost any such action for failing to respond to applications in time.

The response may simply be to turn round and ban all NYCC rides on the grounds that they are illegal, including Escape New York. And they might treat other bike clubs and other organisers of bike rides the same way. Mmm! End of NYCC as we know it? They might even send the NYPD to the start of any advertised ride.

As for city resources in dealing with applications - maybe a pre-programmed letter, generated at the touch of a mouse click or two, saying, ""your application has been denied"" for each application we send in, and a requirement for us to submit a stamped, addressed envelope for the reply as part of the application. Once that standard letter had been written, the cost to the city in dealing with applications would be fairly close to zilch. Better still, a rubber stamp saying ""application denied"" stamped on our letter of request and returned to us in the stamped, addressed envelope we provided. Then the city would only have to procure one rubber stamp, the odd ink pad, and wouldn't even have to spend anything on paper in dealing with our applications. I don't even think it would require hiring anyone full time to handle it all.

Once all our rides had been banned, we could resort to some underground form of communication, using code to identify a starting point, type of ride, distance, leaderts' names etc.

As things stand now, as the bulletin editor, am I breaking the law simply by publishing ride listings? Could the listed leaders be breaking the law?

Is there any point in the club writing to a big cheese in the city, telling them that we are a bike club and that by our very nature we organise group rides of a non-protesting nature every week throughout the year, most of which leave the city, and asking for dispensation?

Out of interest, as the MTA publishes a timetable for its subway, train and bus services, are not they effectively encouraging people to gather en masse in public places, several times a day to take those rides and, if so, are the people that take the rides breaking the law?

By providing streets for us to ride and drive on, is the city breaking the law in effectively encouraging people to do just that en masse and in a public place?

Richard, out of interest, why did you drop out of law school twice?"

Anonymous's picture
hannah (not verified)
a flaw with this plan
Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
This link doesn't work

I got an error message when I tried this link.

Anonymous's picture
Rick Braun (not verified)

Richard-It is unethical for a judge to comment publicly regarding a pending or potential lawsuit, so I at times have to restrain myself from doing so on this Message Board and otherwise (I declined the informal request of a major cable TV show's producer to be a periodic judicial commentator on the show for this reason). This can be frustrating at times, but the compensation is that, as a judge, I can meaningfully and fairly dispense justice in the cases that come before me (e.g., see today's news reports of the New York State Court of Appeals almost entirely upholding my decision in the NY Times lawsuit regarding the release of 911 tapes and transcripts, and other documents re September 11). As your intellect would have made you a great asset to the Bar if you hadn't dropped out of law school, you will understand that judges should not announce their positions in public on pending cases (although the U.S. Supreme Court in White has put that ethical constraint somewhat up in the air) because maybe a similar case may come before him or her. Nice of you to think of me, though. Regards, Rick

Anonymous's picture
Hy S. Terrier (not verified)
Check facts before shooting your mouth off. You are a fool.

Richard, dear Richard,
In your post of 3/24/05 you neglected to mention the Ride Application Permit Fee of $25.00. Who is to pay this? The NYCC? The Ride Leader(s)? Trippers chip in?
Why, oh why, don't you check facts before shooting your mouth off?
Why, oh why, are you so bent and insistent on making a fool of yourself?
Hy S. Terrier

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
Hy, please read me w/ a modicum of care & greater attentiveness

"It is always chastening when one writes with nuance, a certain amount of drollery, and maybe even a scintilla of wit, and in a deliberately provocative manner (i.e. intending to provoke thought)...only to find those reading him so simplify what he wrote as to distort its meaning.

In the present instance, and in another one having to do with law enforcement, you, Hy, pilloried me for arguing one side of an issue. In fact, your ad hominem disparagement here mirrors your previous one of me.

The more careful, more attentive reader will notice in both cases I actually made points on both sides of the matter. Here I rather specifically spoke against ceding the city the authority to issue us permits.

But address yourself to the gravamen of my note: the fact that some of what the city ojbects to in the Crit. Mass rides applies to some of our rides just as well.

Or do you figure, hey, so long as the cops aren't comin' after us, let's stay outta it. Yeah, that's the attitude...not. Re-read Rev. Bonhoffer's injunction: ""First they came for...."""

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
Oops. Double post. Please remove. nm (nm)
Anonymous's picture
Etoain S.Hrudlu (not verified)
Boss Bloomberg

"Anthony is absolutely right. A determined bureaucracy can thwart any legitimate activity, should it so choose.

However, the problem is not the bureaucracy. The problem is Boss Bloomberg (call him that in all your postings, and get your friends to call him that) who is implicitly or explicitly directing the bureaucracy to behave as it does.

When he was running Bloomberg News, and for all I know to this very day, once you quit the Bloomberg Sweatshop you were blacklisted by the company forever. Boss Bloomberg saw to it that you could never, ever come back because you had been ""disloyal"" to his precious firm.

You wanted to take a year off and bum around Europe? You got an offer from a firm for twice as much money and fewer hours than you had to put in at Boss Bloomberg's sweatshop? Tough tiddly. You became a non-person for all eternity.

Meanwhile in many incidents now forgotten but once covered in the press, Boss Bloomberg was the source of many vulgar jokes mocking women in general (and some say his women employees, as well.)

The truth is, Boss Bloomberg is a spiteful, nasty little man who doesn't like anybody to disagree with him or reject him in any manner and who will use his considerable money, power and influence to squash you if you dare try.

Thus, for example, Boss Bloomberg's threat to end Madison Square Garden's tax break because they oppose the stadium he favors. (Whether MSG or any corporate entity including the NY Jets should have a tax break at all is another question for another day.)

The way to get rid of Boss Bloomberg's shenanigans is to work against him in the upcoming election. Work for his opponent. Contribute money to his opponent. (Can the NYCC also contribute money?) And spread the word, via the Internet, snailmail, your friends, and your co-workers. This isn't a bicycle issue. This is a basic citizenship issue. We need to get rid of a man who will destroy any constituent who does not agree with him.

Dump Boss Bloomberg.

Or as the ancient Montenegrin saying goes, ""There is nothing wrong with a colony of mice that a good cat can't cure. And there is nothing wrong with a cat that a wolf can't cure. And there is nothing wrong with a wolf that the Royal Hunting Party can't cure. And there is nothing wrong with the Royal Hunting Party that cannot be cured by a revolution of angry citizens.""

Or something like that.

Your Pal,

Anonymous's picture
chris o (not verified)
Mayor Mike

"I beg to differ with your irrational tirade against Blooomberg. He's OK with me.

Sure I wish the cops were not cracking down on Critical Mass, but this is an event that (imho) needs to be replaced by something new and creative anyway. As for transportation issues, he is better than most.

""You bet I did and I enjoyed it.""

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
"""New and creative""?"

Like what?

If the mayor didn't approve of the crackdown on Critical Mass as a use of city resources, he wouldn't allow his proxies to commit it. No question about that--unless he were so weak and ineffectual he couldn't control the city's police force. At a minimum, Bloomberg doesn't want to challenge the NYPD ahead of an election.

Anonymous's picture
Etoain S.Hrudlu (not verified)
"Not ""he."" Boss Bloomberg"

"Remember Carol, if you wish to defeat the Mayor, you have to virally spread a handle that describes him in the light he deserves.

Never ""him."" Never ""the mayor."" It's always Boss Bloomberg. Got that? Boss Bloomberg, Boss Bloomberg, Boss Bloomberg.

Your Pal,

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
Sorry Etoain...

"It's not my style.

Besides, I still think we cyclists need to do a lot more as a group to pressure politicians to represent our interests. What political reason does Bloomberg, as our mayor, have to stick up for cyclists' right to use the streets? He'd have to take on cops, car owners, and a lot of entrenched interests.

We need to give him a reason to take a stand. I like the way Critical Mass does just that, by taking the issues to the public at large.

It never hurts to ask nicely for what you want. But clearly much more than that is needed to get cyclists' demands taken seriously. And after all, they're sensible demands--inasmuch as making a city safer for biking improves quality of life for all city dwellers and visitors. Except maybe for insane drivers who lose the ""right"" to speed up and down the avenues at fifty miles per hour, mow down pedestrians in crosswalks, etc."

Anonymous's picture
Ohnothimagain (not verified)
What this city needs... a good, long, transit strike. That'll get a few politicians changing their tune about the virtue of alternate transportation. When is the contract up?

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
Transit strike?

Funny you should mention it!

25 Years Ago, Subways and Buses Stopped Running

Published: April 4, 2005

Twenty-five years ago this week, a strike by 33,000 transit workers shut down much of New York City and tested the resourcefulness, patience and sanity of more than 3 million subway and bus riders.

No commemoration of the strike has been planned, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which faces a round of labor negotiations in December, would probably prefer that it be long forgotten. But the 11-day walkout - the second of only two general strikes in the subway system's history - remains an indelible memory for New Yorkers who lived through it.

Anonymous's picture
chris o (not verified)
He ain't the greatest but...

"If I knew what, I would say. This is for the creative people, like the people who innocently came up with Critical Mass over 10 years ago.

As for Mayor Mike, Mayor Mike, Mayor Mike:
""Bloomberg also is credited for limiting cars in Central Park, backing a bicycle path around the entirety of Manhattan and pushing for road safety near schools. For all that, he's drawn the praise of Transportation Alternatives, a nonprofit group that promotes walking and biking.

""Mayor Bloomberg returned significant safety, health and quality of life benefits to millions of New Yorkers,"" said executive director Paul Steely White.



Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
T.A.'s forte

Flattery is like perfume....

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
deleted (nm)
cycling trips