The Economist, Cities Guide: New York
March 7, 2006
In a long-running battle between the city and a group of committed cyclists, Michael Stallman, a state supreme court judge, ruled in favour of the latter. Critical Mass, a protest collective, gathers on the last Friday of every month to cycle in Manhattan in support of cyclists’ rights, among other political issues. During the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York, police arrested over 260 participants in a Critical Mass gathering for parading without a permit and “disorderly conduct”. Traffic officials argue that the cyclists have little respect for traffic laws and road safety, and have regularly arrested participants. But Judge Stallman rejected the city’s lawsuit to halt the gatherings, ruling that the group did not meet the city’s definition of “a parade or procession” and so they do not need a permit. He argued that criminalising the ride could flood the courts with petulant cyclists, and urged the two sides to reconcile. The city plans to appeal the decision.