2004-09-22 Cyclists to Reclaim NYC Streets

September 22nd, 2004

For Immediate Release

 

Thousands of Peaceful Cyclists to Reclaim New York City Streets
Friday Evening in
Monthly "Critical Mass" Ride

Despite Hundreds of Arrests at August Ride,
Bike Riders Continue Time-Honored Tradition

 

NEW YORK (September 22, 2004) - Manhattan's car-clogged streets will
be reclaimed by thousands of cyclists this Friday in the first
Critical Mass since 264 cyclists were arrested on the August 27 ride.
Over 5,000 people participated in the August ride, New York City's
largest Critical Mass ever.

Cyclists, rollerbladers and skateboarders will gather at 7:00 p.m. in
Union Square on Friday, Sept. 24, for their monthly group ride through
the city to promote environmentally sustainable transportation and to
raise awareness about cyclists' rights.

Friday's Critical Mass comes just days after the Manhattan D.A.'s
office began releasing hundreds of bikes confiscated during the
Republican National Convention. Held for over three weeks, the bikes
of those arrested during the convention were considered "arrest
evidence" and warehoused in an NYPD facility in Brooklyn. As of
Tuesday, over 200 bikes were still being held at the impound facility.

"The NYPD and city officials are absurdly trying to criminalize large
bicycle rides, while they should instead be promoting bicycle riding
to alleviate the massive amount of car traffic and pollution in the
city," said Matthew Roth, a regular Critical Mass participant and
volunteer with Time's Up!, an environmental advocacy organization.

"If the police want to crack down on large, vehicular masses that
block the streets, they should arrest drivers coming out of the
Lincoln Tunnel every weekday morning. The city is choking on cars,
not bikes, and Mayor Bloomberg needs to have some rational policies in
place that reflect reality," Mr. Roth said.

He noted that Mayor Bloomberg had at first encouraged New Yorkers to
ride bikes to reduce traffic during the convention, then later the
mayor defended mass arrests of cyclists.

"This is a beautiful community event that people look to as a positive
reclamation of public space, not a criminal activity that requires an
invasive police crackdown," said Leah Rorvig, another Critical Mass
participant and Time's Up! volunteer.

Prior to August's Critical Mass, the NYPD had maintained a minimal
presence at the monthly rides. In fact, in previous months police
scooters had escorted the ride without interfering.

"New Yorkers have to deal with toxic levels of air and noise pollution
every day. For the city to criminalize an event that promotes an
environmentally sound form of transportation is tragic," Ms. Rorvig
said.

Started in San Francisco in 1992, Critical Mass rides now take place
monthly in almost 400 cities on six continents. Critical Mass is an
organic and self-sustaining event with no leaders and no central
organization. In every city that has a Critical Mass ride, some local
residents simply picked a date, time, and location for the ride and
publicized it, and thus the ride was born.

WHAT: Critical Mass

WHEN: Ride participants will be available for comment at 6:30 p.m.,
Friday, Sept. 24, 2004. The ride begins at 7:00 p.m.

WHERE: Press should meet on the stairs at Union Square North. The ride
begins at Union Square North and follows a route determined by the
riders as they go.

HOW: For more information, contact Matthew Roth, 917.825.3027,
almonroth @ yahoo.com or Leah Rorvig, 646.831.6802, LeahRorvig @ gmail.com

ON THE WEB: http://criticalmassrides.info/