2005-11-02 No Arrests At Critical Mass Ride – Villager

No arrests at Critical Mass ride


By Ellen Keohane

To the surprise of Critical Mass riders, for the first time in more than a year, no one was arrested on Friday night’s Critical Mass ride. Bill DiPaola, founder and executive director of Time’s Up!, the grassroots environmental group that helps organize the monthly ride, said there were no arrests and no “harassment” of riders by police. A police spokesperson confirmed there were no arrests.

At last year’s Halloween ride, the Police Department arrested 33 cyclists. “It’s been a year of intense harassment,” DiPaola said. “We’re hoping that things are going to change and that this is the first start.”

In celebration of Halloween, more than 500 cyclists — many dressed in costumes — participated in the ride. Thirty lawyers as well as a group of Columbia law school students who acted as legal observers also attended the ride, DiPaola said, adding that perhaps the presence of so many legal observers affected the police.

The ride ended with a party at the Times Up! headquarters at 49 East Houston Street. Free valet bike parking was provided, and the Rude Mechanical Orchestra as well as several D.J.’s played at the party. “We were celebrating Halloween, but also celebrating the fact that no one got arrested,” DiPaola said. At last year’s Halloween ride, police also shut down the after-party on East Houston Street with a heavy show of force, after charging that the partiers had blocked a lane of traffic with a sawhorse.

So why no arrests? “Maybe everyone behaved themselves. If no one broke the law, there’s no arrests made,” said a Sergeant Doherty, a police spokesperson.

In addition to New York City, Critical Mass takes place in more than 300 other cities around the world.