Those that know me know that I have as little fondness for bicyclists as I do for gas-guzzling SUVs; I guess frequent near-death experiences caused by cycling take-out deliverers has embittered me.
However, I have been watching the standoff between the NYPD and the Critical Mass bike ride-- a rather free-form event that takes place on the streets Manhattan (as well as in other cities) on the last Friday of every month-- with increasing interest.
A little history: Critical Mass in NYC has been going on for over a decade, with spotty attendance; it is only in the last two years that it has reached epic proportions, and the conjunction of this year's August 27th event with the opening of the RNC caused it to morph into a huge anti-Republican protest. Naturally, the NYPD under the Bloomberg regime, began to take notice, and indeed moved in on the August event and arrested many participants. These arrestees became the first to experience the harrowing conditions of Bloomberg's impromptu "holding pen" on Pier 57 (Little Gitmo.)
During the September event, the police once again moved in and arrested some participants, as well as impounding locked bicycles along the route, citing "blocking traffic" and "parading without a permit," etc. It has become clear that the City Administration has it in for Critical Mass in a big way.
These cases have made their way through the courts and just yesterday a judge ruled that not only may the City not impound locked bicycles indiscriminately, but that he would not grant an injunction by which the City sought to prevent the ride from happening.
Of course, the incredibly ruling Norman Siegal of the NYCLU was involved in this case due to the Constitutional issues that were involved.
Anyhow, this month's Critical Mass is slated to occur tonight, Friday October 29, with participants assembling at Union Square North at 7 PM. There is a very loose Hallowe'en costume theme involved as well, so it should be colorful indeed!
I guess I have revised my opinion, at least about some bicyclists-- any enemy of Bloomberg is OK by me. And let's face it, environmentally speaking, bicyles ARE better than cars. I just wish the dude who delivers your order of Sum Yung Gai wouldn't ride on the sidewalk!
Late-breaking info on Critical Mass is available through the Time's Up website: