2006-03-07 Critical Mass Gets Dangerous - WCBS

One Woman Claims She Was Thrown from her Bike by the NYPD

WCBS
Lou Young
Mar 7, 2006

(CBS) NEW YORK The young woman showed CBS 2 her fading bruises. She said she received the injuries when she was knocked from her bicycle by an NYPD Assistant Chief during the controversial monthly Manhattan bike outing known as Critical Mass.

27- year-old Adrienne Wheeler said she was acting as a legal observer for the National Lawyers Guild during the January ride.

In Times Square she said, “I was grabbed from behind by my chain (which was tied around her waist) and pushed forward onto the ground then pulled back up.”

A tape shot by one of the other observers shows part of the action. Adrienne and another man are seen riding slowly onto West 49th Street from Broadway when they pass a bald man holding what appears to be a Styrofoam coffee cup. They’d apparently come a short distance up the wrong way on Broadway into the crosswalk, then East on the street toward 7th Avenue.

The camera pans past them and a crash is heard. When the camera pans back there is Adrienne on the ground on top of her bike. The bald man is standing over he,r holding on to the chain that is wrapped around her waist.

The man is Assistant Chief Bruce Smolka, the commander of Manhattan Patrol Borough South, but Adrienne insists she didn’t realize he was a member of the force until after she was on the ground.

“I had no idea who this person was that was behind me grabbing and if anyone had asked me to stop then, yes, I would’ve stopped,” she said.

The January ride was the first since a judge had refused the city’s application for a court injunction against the Critical Mass bike ride. The event takes place the final Friday of every month, kicking off in Union Square and filing out into the city on a random route that police say snarls traffic.

The police had tried to curtail the event with mass arrests for disorderly conduct and parading without a permit, but the judge ruled the city needs to stick to individual traffic citations.

A traffic ticket is exactly what Adrienne got, but only, she says, after very physically being knocked to the ground. She’s filed a complain with the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board with the support of the National Lawyer’s Guild. Guild Executive Board member Bruce Bentley says it’s another example of the city’s double standard when it come to dealing with cyclists.

“I’m not aware of drivers in cars being pulled from their cars and being thrown to the ground as part of being given a ticket,” he said.

The police department says it will have no comment while the CCRB complaint is pending.