2004-12-30 Wheel'em Off To Jail - Daily News

Wheel'em off to jail

http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/opinions/wheel-em-jail-article-1.635750?print

December 30, 2004

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, December 30, 2004, 12:00

What's worse than hordes of bicyclists riding rampant through midtown streets? Hordes of drunken bicyclists riding rampant through midtown streets that are jam-packed with New Year's Eve revelers. Which is why the cops must be prepared to make mass arrests tomorrow night when the so-called Critical Mass riders are set to stage their monthly assault on public safety. The NYPD has no choice but to bust a goodly number of these bicyclists as soon as they put foot to pedal on a charge of parading without a permit and then to net a whole bunch more for violating traffic laws. You do the crime, you do the time, as they say. Critical Massers seem to be out to make the point that the planet would be much better off if everyone switched to two-wheel transport. Over the years, the number of riders participating in their happenings has swelled into the thousands. But, of late, they've shown themselves less and less willing to work with the police - who, for 10 years, bent over backward to work with them. Cops who once rode along with the bikers to ease their way safely now find themselves chasing after riders who deliberately run red lights, block side streets (a tactic known as corking) and even venture blithely onto the FDR Drive. To strengthen its hand, the NYPD asked federal Judge William Pauley to bar Critical Massers from riding without a parade permit. In a hair-splitting decision, Pauley rebuffed the department, purporting himself unable to see for sure that a rolling demonstration stretching for, say, 15 blocks was a parade or caravan that would be covered by the city's permit law. And, proving that no good deed goes unpunished, Pauley blamed the NYPD for Critical Mass' lawlessness. In Pauley's loopy logic, the police, by accommodating the cyclists for a decade, emboldened them to ride where they please with impunity. If the cops now have difficulty enforcing the law, well, it's their own darn fault. So be it. If a judge won't help keep order in the streets on the year's most boisterous night, the NYPD must do so. Riders who violate traffic laws or are BWI - biking while intoxicated - should greet 2005 in cuffs. Uncle Sam's big heart That United Nations buffoon who groused the other day about "stingy" America has slunk away with his tail between his legs, charge withdrawn, but let's look at the record and be clear: Yes, it's true the U.S. contributes only .

14% of its gross national product to worldwide disaster relief, which, percentage-wise, is low compared with what other nations pony up (Norway, for example, said buffoon's homeland, is proud to contribute .

92%). In total dollars, though, the U.S. still kicked in 40% of the international relief aid that went to disaster-stricken lands last year. Yep, pretty disgracefully stingy, all right. But there's your typical UN mindset: Complain about everything Americans do, but expect them to pay the freight and be quick about it. Speaking of quick: UN officials in Geneva announce they'll mount a "consolidated aid appeal" to raise funds for the tsunami victims, "in January.

" Hello? In January? This is December. Well, maybe the sick and starving can hang on a bit while the UN people hold their meetings. Meantime, bet they're glad to see the planeloads of food and medicine coming in now from the U.S. and other such stingy countries. Jerry Orbach, 1935-2004 The younger generation will remember Jerry Orbach primarily for his "Law & Order" role as Detective Lennie Briscoe, the quintessential, cynical New York cop. Never daunted. Ever cracking wise. But Orbach's roots were in the theater, which is why Broadway was to dim its lights last night in memory of the actor, who died at age 69. He was a helluva song-and-dance man, as can attest those who saw him in "Chicago" or "42nd Street" or "Promise, Promises" or . . . Orbach made his stage debut as an understudy in the 1955 production of "The Threepenny Opera," ending his run with that show as Mack the Knife. Then came "The Fantasticks," where he created the role of El Gallo in what would become the longest-running Off-Broadway musical ever. The rest, as they say, is showbiz history. Lennie (and likely Jerry) would disdain the sentimentality, at least in public, but underneath it all, they would appreciate this: The song Orbach introduced so many years ago says, "Deep in December, it's nice to remember, without a hurt, the heart is hollow.