2006-02-25 Put Brakes on CM – Daily News

Daily News
Sports – Editorial, p. 28


It’s only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt, if not killed, because of the determined recklessness of the so-called Critical Mass bike riders. Two cops have already suffered minor injuries – and that is two too many.

Critical Mass participants gather on the last Friday of every month – yesterday evening was on their calendar – for group cycling from Union Square to wherever the spirit takes them as a statement of the virtues of pedaling over motorized transportation. Their numbers have ranged from a few score to well over a thousand.

New York City is well-equipped to handle this type of demonstration – provided that demonstrators behave lawfully and safely. In the case of Critical Mass, that would mean getting a parade permit so the police can establish a corridor for clear passage, as the cops are only too willing to do, or abiding by all traffic rules, including stopping at every red light.

Critical Massers scoff. They say they gather by word of mouth and they have no formal leaders, and they object in high dudgeon to needing a permit to take over the streets. Worse, a fair number block intersections so buddies can ignore red signals, go the wrong way on one-way streets and take life-threatening actions. Once, they rode up onto the FDR Drive. They also have the gall to complain that cops are making arrests and sometimes chasing them on scooters or in cars. Last month, two officers on glorified mopeds collided while trying to corral an anarchic CMer. The officers wound up briefly hospitalized.

This insanity must stop. First, the cops have got to bust every rolling rebel who breaks a traffic rule. Cuff ’em when they don’t ride on the right, stop at the light or respect the niceties of one-way signs. Cyclists complain that the NYPD is oppressing them because cops don’t routinely haul away drivers for red-light violations. This is unfair treatment, they mewl. Discrimination! It’s nothing of the sort.

At the same time, city lawyers must search for a judge with his or her treads on the ground. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman does not qualify. Asked to enjoin a group of CMers from riding without a permit, Stallman split so many legal hairs that he ended up concluding the rides were not a parade or a procession or a march or a caravan or any “similar event of any kind upon any public street or roadway” that would require a permit. Basically, Stallman ruled, the rides are . . . nothing run by no one. And since they are nothing run by no one, he couldn’t bar them. But these rides are not nothing. What they are is dangerous.