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  1. #1
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    What's in a parade

    As has been mentioned in at least one thread on this forum, the NYPD has revised its regulations on what constitutes a parade. In effect, any group of 20 cyclists on the road or 35 pedestrians on the sidewalk must have a parade permit. Any group of 2 cyclists or pedestrians who violate traffic laws must also have a parade permit. Failure to have a permit results in citation. The impetus for this change is the request of a NY state judge at a case involving the arrests of Critical Mass riders, who suggested that the parade regulations are too vague, and that they NYPD should define the term. See http://www.5bbc.org/nypdparade.pdf for the text of the new reg.

    IMHO, NYPD has overstepped the bounds of reasonableness and that many otherwise peaceful, law-abiding activities will be affected (club rides, field trips, tour groups, funeral processions). I plan on making my opposition known, but wanted to see if others on this forum knew of similar (or different) parade regulations in other cities. I will do my own research, but would like to avoid reinventing the wheel if possible. Thanks for your consideration.

  2. #2
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    A parade, as a type of procession, normally would require that participants violate the normal traffic laws in order to keep their group together in time and formation. The requirement of violating the traffic laws is why the police have a legitimate interest in a parade permit process.

    If a group of people traveling together or simply at the same time are willing to alter their timing and formation in order to comply with the ordinary traffic laws, then there is usually no need for the police to be involved. If traffic is high enough the police may wish to provide supplemental traffic control, but that's about it; one does not need a permit to go to a public place regardless of the amount of traffic already on the road.

    The straightforward way to enforce parade permit violations is to ticket unpermitted parade participants for whatever traffic violations they commit. Quite simply, lack of a parade permit implies no immunity to traffic laws. It should never imply prohibition from using open public roads in compliance with the traffic laws at a particular time and place.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by gtmandsager
    As has been mentioned in at least one thread on this forum, the NYPD has revised its regulations on what constitutes a parade. In effect, any group of 20 cyclists on the road or 35 pedestrians on the sidewalk must have a parade permit. Any group of 2 cyclists or pedestrians who violate traffic laws must also have a parade permit. Failure to have a permit results in citation. The impetus for this change is the request of a NY state judge at a case involving the arrests of Critical Mass riders, who suggested that the parade regulations are too vague, and that they NYPD should define the term. See http://www.5bbc.org/nypdparade.pdf for the text of the new reg.

    IMHO, NYPD has overstepped the bounds of reasonableness and that many otherwise peaceful, law-abiding activities will be affected (club rides, field trips, tour groups, funeral processions). I plan on making my opposition known, but wanted to see if others on this forum knew of similar (or different) parade regulations in other cities. I will do my own research, but would like to avoid reinventing the wheel if possible. Thanks for your consideration.
    Funeral processions have legal status in the traffic laws, but if you've ever noticed, the vehicles are marked and they have police escorts corking the intersections. Not the same thing as Critical Mass.

    The other activities will be affected, but I doubt the NYPD will be citing those other peaceful, law-abiding activities. They will be citing Critical Mass. But let's be honest about terms here. While Critical Mass is peaceful, it can hardly be called "law-abiding," can it? If Critical Mass were a "law-abiding" activity, it would just be a group of riders out riding and obeying the traffic laws....

    And there likely would have been no confrontation between the NYPD and Critical Mass in the first place, and thus, no need for a clarification of the parade regulations.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order
    If Critical Mass were a "law-abiding" activity, it would just be a group of riders out riding and obeying the traffic laws....
    Not under the new regulations, which require that any group of over 20 riders -- even if they're obeying every traffic law -- have a parade permit. Personally, I'm not concerned with Critical Mass, and I agree that there is a large segment of the ride that is not "law-abiding." However, NYPD's reaction is a drastic measure that effects far more than just CM.

    As far as relying on NYPD's use of discretion when deciding whether to ticket a local club ride of 21 riders, that's not the way that the relationship is supposed to work, especially when it involves a fundamental right like association. NYPD has a burden to prove, not just assert, that at 20 riders, a group poses such a danger to public safety that a restriction on assembly is appropriate.

    The reason for my post was to see if other cities have taken similar steps in defining what constitutes a parade and thus requires a permit.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by gtmandsager
    Not under the new regulations, which require that any group of over 20 riders -- even if they're obeying every traffic law -- have a parade permit. Personally, I'm not concerned with Critical Mass, and I agree that there is a large segment of the ride that is not "law-abiding." However, NYPD's reaction is a drastic measure that effects far more than just CM.

    As far as relying on NYPD's use of discretion when deciding whether to ticket a local club ride of 21 riders, that's not the way that the relationship is supposed to work, especially when it involves a fundamental right like association. NYPD has a burden to prove, not just assert, that at 20 riders, a group poses such a danger to public safety that a restriction on assembly is appropriate.

    The reason for my post was to see if other cities have taken similar steps in defining what constitutes a parade and thus requires a permit.
    Sorry, I misunderstood your previous post to be comparing Critical Mass to "other" law-abiding activities. My mistake.

    I think you raise some very interesting points here. If the point of a parade permit is to allow for a legal violation of the traffic laws, and if a group is traveling en masse but observing all traffic laws, then the new parade regulations appear to be a departure from the meaning of "parade." And of course, that raises all sorts of interesting questions about fundamental rights, as well as selective enforcement of the law. Who will be cited? Will 21 people assembling to protest the war be cited? What about 21 striking union members? Or 21 club riders? Or 21 stock brokers going to lunch? Or 21 Japanese businessmen siteseeing in Manhattan? Lots of interesting legal questions raised by these new regulations.

    As regards your question, I don't know. I'll see what Portland requires.

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