Mass bike riders convene on convention anniversary
September 3, 2008
By Jefferson Siegel
Last Friday was a night of milestones for the monthly Critical Mass ride. It was the fourth anniversary of the 2004 Republican National Convention ride that saw 264 cyclists arrested. It was the first ride since cyclist Christopher Long was knocked off his bike by a police officer last month. It was the last ride of summer and was bookmarked between this year’s Democratic and Republican conventions.
A larger-than-usual police presence met cyclists arriving at the usual Union Square starting point. Barbara Ross, a volunteer with Time’s Up!, the environmental advocacy group, held a large sign reading, “NYPD Keep 500 Feet Back.”
Others carried signs that said, “NYPD Keep The Ride Safe.”
“We hope it goes back to the way it was before,” Ross said of the pre-2004 rides when, the riders say, police escorted Critical Mass.
As soon as the cyclists left Union Square, two of them were stopped and ticketed on 14th St. for riding through a red light.
“I was kind of following everybody,” Irwid Moe, of Bushwick, said while waiting for his ticket.
Cyclists were ticketed at several locations, including Tompkins Square Park, along E. Third St. and on Sixth Ave. at W. Third St.
Just before 10 p.m., several hundred cyclists pedaled through Times Square, stopping for a “bike lift” near where Long was violently tackled off of his bicycle last month by a police offer in an unprovoked act. Tourists cheered them on as a line of police officers and commanders watched. The cyclists were followed by several dozen officers motor scooters.
More than a dozen cyclists received tickets during the evening, most for not having a light or riding in the center of the street.