2004-09-24 Cops Warn Cyclists – NY Newsday

Cops warn cyclists not to break the law
New York Newsday
By Luis Perez, Staff Writer
September 24, 2004

The police yesterday sent a message to bicyclists planning
to attend tonight’s Critical Mass ride: If you break traffic
laws, you’ll ride straight to jail.

Police arrested 264 people and confiscated their bikes during
the Aug. 27 ride, which drew about 5,000 riders three days
before the Republican National Convention.

Taking off from the north end of Union Square Park, thousands
jammed the streets, culminating in front of St. Mark’s Church
in the East Village, where most of the arrests occurred.
Tonight at 7 p.m. the bikers plan to ride again, in lesser
numbers, organizers said.

Before last month, police did not make arrests at the events,
which promote alternative transportation. The rides have taken
place every last Friday of the month since 1998.

Yesterday, the Police Department posted a warning on its Web
site, saying violations of traffic laws can lead to arrests.

“Bicycles may also be seized as evidence,” they said. “We will
increase enforcement to prevent hazardous and potentially
dangerous situations.”

The warnings were met cautiously by organizers.

“The rides happen every month and will continue to happen.
It’s not a fluke,” said Matthew Roth, a volunteer organizer
for the group. “I would hope that they [police] come out
very level-headed and calm.”

For years, Roth said, police provided escorts during the
rides, assisting in what the group calls “corking” – cyclists
blocking intersections to allow the group to pass.

At City Hall yesterday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the

“If you are going to have 5,000 bicyclists and think you’re
gonna stop traffic in this city, you’ll find that we will
enforce the law,” he said.

Attorney Normal Siegel, who is advising the environmental
group “Times Up!” which helped organize the rides, said
police should clarify why they are now enforcing traffic rules.

“Perhaps it was a one-time police reaction in view with the
Republicans being in town,” he said. “The question is, the
Republicans aren’t here anymore.”

Staff writer Dan Janison contributed to this story.

Copyright 2004, Newsday, Inc.