2004-09-24 Bracing for CM - Metro NY

Police, bike riders brace for Critical Mass

NYPD issue stern warning but activists not deterred.

Metro New York


September 24th, 2004


By Joshua Rhett Miller

MANHATTAN -- Not even 264 arrests, hundreds of confiscations at
the Republican National Convention and a stern police warning
will deter members of Critical Mass, an ad hoc activist group
that promotes environment-friendly transportation.

The group, which began in San Francisco in 1992, is kicking off
its monthly ride through the city at 7 p.m. in Union Square
North tonight. As usual, the ensuing route in unclear, but how
authorities will react to thousands of cyclists, rollerbladers
and skateboarders is much more predictable, according to Matthew
Roth, a regular participant in the monthly ride.

* 'Just a group ride'

"If you look at what (the police) are saying, it's like you
can't ride a bike," Roth said in response to a NYPD-issued
statement dubbing the ride a "potentially dangerous situation."

"It's just a group ride, in the most strictest sense," said
Roth.

* 'Violations must stop'

According to a statement issued yesterday by Deputy Police Chief
Michael Collins, authorities will distribute fliers regarding
traffic regulations to bicylists. If laws are broken, arrests
and bicycle confiscations will follow.

NYPD Chief of Transportation Michael Scagnelli sent a letter
yesterday to groups associated with the ride warning of
potential arrests. "It continues to be our desire not to
summons or arrest riders," it read. "However, these violations
must stop and arrests may occur."

That won't deter Jenny Oh, who said she was arrested during
the Aug. 27 ride at 7th Ave. and West 12th St. as she was
photographing the mass arrests.

"I'm not going to not do the ride based on fear," said Oh, 30,
of Manhattan. "There's worse things than getting arrested.
I've done this ride so many times before and there's usually
a police escort. It seems obvious police want to make an
example out of us."

Copyright 2004, Metro New York.