NYPD Says No Arrests Made at Cycling Protest
Anticipated Problems Apparently Avoided
WABC (New York)
September 24, 2004
Riding for ‘Critical Mass,’ hundreds of bicyclists took to the streets Friday night in Manhattan.
The riders were protesting for better riding conditions and fewer cars on the streets of New York City.
Despite the turnout, the NYPD tells Eyewitness News that there have been no arrests made, and no major problems caused as a result of the monthly event.
They are the same group that took to the streets during the Republican National Convention.
Michelle Charlesworth reports from Union Square on the preparations for Friday night’s ride.
These cyclists say they want wider bike lanes, more respect from drivers and cars, and they want longer pathways on the East and West Side. Last month, 264 people were arrested and there were more than 5,000 cyclists. We are going to see what happens this time.
Leah Rorvig, Cyclist: “We’re just peaceful cyclists who are trying to have a good time on Friday night.”
Other people called ‘Critical Mass’ a nightmare.
Matthew Roth called it ‘fun,’ but a lot of drivers who were stuck in extra Friday night traffic a month ago would not agree. That includes the NYPD, and they first tried to disperse the sea of cyclists, and ended up arresting 264 of them for causing, “traffic disruptions.” Like riding against traffic or on the sidewalk. And police add, riding in procession without a permit is illegal.
But Matthew Roth says most cyclists obey traffic rules, but even then it doesn’t matter — drivers cut you off.
Matthew Roth, Cyclist: “I have been hit several times in the city. One severe hit, where I was cut off, and I went over the hood of a car.”
More than 1,000 cyclists are expected to meet at 7:00 p.m. on Friday night. From there, they will ride together — without a set route.
“I don’t want to use the word ‘persecuted.’ But, I hate to admit it, I really do feel that I am being discriminated against for riding a bicycle, which is absolutely ridiculous to me. If anyone should be discriminated against is people who bring the cars into the city.”
Last month, as arrests were made hundreds of bikes were confiscated. And one cyclist we spoke with said, she still doesn’t have her bike back. So she’s had to borrow one.
Leah Rorvig: “If the police went out and arrested every single, you know, driver, who was breaking some kind of traffic violation, then, took away their car and impounded it for three weeks, there would be just massive riots in the streets.”
What exactly is illegal about a giant group of cyclists? The NYPD issued a warning saying “it is illegal to ride a bicycle in procession” without a permit.
Now, how many bikes constitutes ‘procession?’ No definition.
Copyright 2004 ABC Inc., WABC-TV Inc.