YAHOO! It's gonna be a party on the New Years Eve ride, no doubt!Originally Posted by The New York Daily NewsJudge dismisses New York's bid to force bike rally to get permit
NEW YORK (AP) -- The city's bid to force cyclists to obtain a parade permit for a monthly Manhattan bicycle rally that has resulted in hundreds of arrests since summer was dismissed Thursday by a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III tossed out the city's countersuit and said the issue should be resolved in state court.
Although Pauley did not condone the cyclists' actions, he noted that police had not required the Critical Mass rallies to have permits for nearly a decade until officers began arresting riders two days before this summer's Republican National convention.
In addition, he said, police had for years aided the rallies by blocking cross-town intersections to allow cyclists to proceed without interruption and by letting them run red lights.
"After allowing Critical Mass rides in Manhattan for 10 years without permits," Pauley wrote, "the police department has acquiesced to the very conduct it now seeks to prohibit."
Pauley also cited testimony this month by assistant police Chief Bruce H. Smolka Jr., who said the department "can enforce the laws without an injunction, but an injunction would be helpful."
Pauley also denied the city's application to require cyclists to get a permit from the Department of Parks and Recreation to gather at Union Square Park before the start of each rally, saying that was an issue for state courts.
Cyclists had argued that since no one claims to organize the event, the issuance of permits would have been difficult. They said they do not need a formal organization because they have the same rights to streets as motorists do.
Attorney Norman Seagal, who represented five cyclists who had their bikes seized at a rally, said he hoped the city would accept the ruling.
"We believe that the judge was legally correct, and hopefully the strength of his legal argument will deter the city from seeking to appeal," Seagal said.
Sheryl Neufeld, of the city law department, said that she was disappointed in the decision and that the city was considering an appeal.
"To allow Critical Mass bike rides to continue in their present form continues to be a danger to the public safety," she said.
The bike rides started in San Francisco in 1992 and came to New York two years later. They generally occur all over the world on the last Friday of each month and are designed to make a statement about cyclists' rights and to protest urban areas' reliance on motor vehicles.
They became large enough in New York recently that police decided to tighten the rules, leading to the arrest of more than 260 cyclists during a ride days before the GOP convention in August.
Dozens more cyclists were arrested at subsequent rallies.