Metro New York
By Amy Zimmer
OCT 26, 2007
WEST VILLAGE. Cyclists are donning Halloween costumes for Fridayâ€™s Critical Mass ride â€” the monthly event that has hit the streets the last Friday of every month for 14 years.
Theyâ€™re hoping that the spectacle, however, doesnâ€™t attract too much heat from the NYPD.
Liane Nikitovich plans to wear a â€œsexy cop outfit,â€ with a beauty pageant-style sash saying â€œMiss Critical Mass NYCâ€ and a hat with a police emblem on one side and, on the other, a logo from Times Up!, the nonprofit advocacy group that promotes the ride.
â€œItâ€™s mainly a joke on whatâ€™s been going on with Critical Mass,â€ said Nikitovich, who joined the ride three years ago, right around when police began to crack down on it. â€œA lot of the officers tell us they donâ€™t want to be there ticketing us, so itâ€™s a wink to them.â€ Plus, she said, â€œI feel itâ€™s hard for a cop to arrest someone dressed as a sexy cop.â€
The NYPD adopted new permit regulations this year â€” which many believed were in direct response to Critical Mass â€” defining parades as any â€œrecognizable groupâ€ of 50 or more pedestrians, vehicles or bicycles that proceed â€œupon any public street or roadway.â€
Civil Rights advocates are continuing to fight the rules. Last week the New York City Bar Associationâ€™s president Barry Kamins sent a letter to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in response to comments she made in the New York Blade about the NYPD being allowed to â€œpromulgate these rules without legislative input.â€ The association said the City Council shouldnâ€™t defer to the NYPD and should amend the Administrative Code to define what a parade is and establish â€œspecific, content-neutral criteria for issuing parade permits.â€
Critical Mass has yet to obtain a permit for its monthly rides since the new rules took effect. Riders have been converging at Union Square, as usual, but then dispersing in small groups. And though the rides havenâ€™t turned into ticketing frenzies, riders canâ€™t be sure what to expect, explained Barbara Ross, a Times Up! volunteer.
â€œMy concern is that the concept of a group ride is in question,â€ Ross said. â€œEveryone is starting to focus on bike safety, and most people agree the more bikes there are on the road, the safer it is.â€