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  1. #1
    Junior Member bluegirl's Avatar
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    police presence @ tonight's critical mass in NYC?

    has anyone heard any news/rumors as to how the police will be behaving tonight? i would have hoped they'd all be in times square making sure people stay in their little corrals, but one of my (non-cycling) friends is worried i'm playing with fire and that i might get arrested if i go to CM tonight
    "Get a bicycle. You will not regret it. If you live."
    Mark Twain "Taming the Bicycle"

  2. #2
    Senior Member vincenzosi's Avatar
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    Good luck to you. If you follow all the laws, you should be okay. A judge has already ruled that you don't need a parade permit, so as long as you follow traffic laws you aren't doing anything illegal.

    Be safe, and enjoy!
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    I wonder how the CM ride went last night?

  4. #4
    Car-Free Flatlander Stacy's Avatar
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    Despite anyrhing we may have read about CM not needing a permit, police were handing out the following

    NOTICE TO BICYCLISTS

    THE NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT REQUIRES YOUR COOPERATION IN COMPLYING WITH THE LAW AND PROTECTING THE PUBLIC FROM HARM.

    IT IS DANGEROUS AND ILLEGAL TO RIDE A BICYCLE IN A PROCESSION ON THE PUBLIC STREETS WITHIN NEW YORK CITY IF A PERMIT FOR THE PROCESSION HAS NOT BEEN ISSUED BY THE NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT.

    NO PERMIT HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR A CICYCLE PROCESSION FOR TONIGHT,DECEMBER 31, 2004.

    IF YOU CHOOSE TO RIDE IN A PROCESSION THIS EVENING, YOU WILL BE ARRESTED AND YOUR BICYCLE WILL BE SEIZED.

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR COOPERATION.

  5. #5
    Senior Citizen Discount fixedfiend's Avatar
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    From what I hear, it went over well with no police incident at the CM, afterparty and afterride. Whohooo.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stacy
    Despite anyrhing we may have read about CM not needing a permit, police were handing out the following

    NOTICE TO BICYCLISTS

    THE NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT REQUIRES YOUR COOPERATION IN COMPLYING WITH THE LAW AND PROTECTING THE PUBLIC FROM HARM.

    IT IS DANGEROUS AND ILLEGAL TO RIDE A BICYCLE IN A PROCESSION ON THE PUBLIC STREETS WITHIN NEW YORK CITY IF A PERMIT FOR THE PROCESSION HAS NOT BEEN ISSUED BY THE NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT.

    NO PERMIT HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR A CICYCLE PROCESSION FOR TONIGHT,DECEMBER 31, 2004.

    IF YOU CHOOSE TO RIDE IN A PROCESSION THIS EVENING, YOU WILL BE ARRESTED AND YOUR BICYCLE WILL BE SEIZED.

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR COOPERATION.
    I wonder what would happen if the CM riders handed the police back a flyer with a copy of the court's ruling attached?

  7. #7
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    The police would laugh at you?

  8. #8
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stacy
    Despite anyrhing we may have read about CM not needing a permit, police were handing out the following

    NOTICE TO BICYCLISTS

    THE NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT REQUIRES YOUR COOPERATION IN COMPLYING WITH THE LAW AND PROTECTING THE PUBLIC FROM HARM.

    IT IS DANGEROUS AND ILLEGAL TO RIDE A BICYCLE IN A PROCESSION ON THE PUBLIC STREETS WITHIN NEW YORK CITY IF A PERMIT FOR THE PROCESSION HAS NOT BEEN ISSUED BY THE NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT.

    NO PERMIT HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR A CICYCLE PROCESSION FOR TONIGHT,DECEMBER 31, 2004.

    IF YOU CHOOSE TO RIDE IN A PROCESSION THIS EVENING, YOU WILL BE ARRESTED AND YOUR BICYCLE WILL BE SEIZED.

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR COOPERATION.
    The key to all of this is the definition of "procession". Operating in compliance with the ordinary rules of the road for drivers of vehicles is not dangerous our illegal; it is protected travel. Doing so with a bunch of other, similarly operating drivers of similar vehicles is also safe, legal travel. We call this "traffic."

    Now, a "procession" is different from "traffic" because procession participants demand that the group operate in an unbroken formation. A procession's goal is that the group stay together regardless of external traffic interactions and traffic control devices, and the procession participants do not wish to have other types of traffic enter their group. Accomplishing these goals requires departure from the ordinary rules of the road, such as continuing together through an intersection as a group even after a traffic signal turns red. Depending on the conditions, departure from the ordinary rules of the road can be dangerous enough that special traffic control services be performed by competent professionals such as the police. This is why a permit process is required for processions.

    So, if a group of cyclists proceeds according to the ordinary rules of the road, they are not a procession; they are traffic. If they run red lights or otherwise plug intersections in order to keep their group together, they are a procession. If the police witness individual cyclists running red lights or failing to yield according to the ordinary traffic laws, the prudent response is to ticket those individuals - not arrest all the other cyclists who happen to be in the vicinity. If the police determine that a permit has not been filed for an organized procession where the majority of users are violating the traffic law to keep the group together, then their responsibility is to determine the identities of the organizers of the procession - and this shouldn't be too hard if they do their homework - and fine those organizers. But this shouldn't be necessary for a typical CM ride; simply ticketing the offending individual cyclists consitently should be effective enough to minimize future violations.

    -Steven Goodridge
    http://humantransport.org/bicycledriving/

  9. #9
    Car-Free Flatlander Stacy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sggoodri
    The key to all of this is the definition of "procession". Operating in compliance with the ordinary rules of the road for drivers of vehicles is not dangerous our illegal; it is protected travel. Doing so with a bunch of other, similarly operating drivers of similar vehicles is also safe, legal travel. We call this "traffic."
    Ironically, immediately following CM's departure from Union Square, a Procession of Police Motorcycles, Scooters, and a Public Safety Van, headed west on 14th street, parallel to CM. Then on Fifth Avenue, there was a Public Safety Van parked in the Bike Lane. Were they just providing an example of what cyclists are not allowed to do?

    Problem is, without a copy of Commissioner Kelly's Pocket Dictionary of NYPD Legalease, it's a bit hard to know whether you and the cops agree on the precise definition of procession.

    Stacy

  10. #10
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    What's worse than that, Stacey, is that the police themselves have no idea what a procession is. At the Brooklyn CM, for two months running, I've asked the borough commander who was there to run the show from the police side, how many riders and what kind of behavior would constitute a parade or prcession & he has decline to answer two months in a row. In addition, at the last Bklyn ride, I had to define NY city & state traffic law regarding bikes for him, as he appeared not to know what it was...so we went with my interpretation of the law in November.

    If they're gonna show up to "police" all the outlaw bikers who ride CM, you'd think at least the commanding officer, the most senior policeman there, would at least brush up on the laws he's there to enforce, huh?

    I'm glad the ride went smoothly. Hope your NYE was fun throughout, and that your New Year is good as well.

  11. #11
    Car-Free Flatlander Stacy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laika
    What's worse than that, Stacey, is that the police themselves have no idea what a procession is.
    Exactly! And no guarantee that the Police won't change their definition halfway through the route, or that the definition won't vary from one cop to another.

    Stacy

  12. #12
    Senior Member vincenzosi's Avatar
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    I think it's important to note that there was only one arrest at this CM. The police probably didn't have their usual chip on the shoulder hard-on about CM, and the riders all behaved themselves. Channel 7 news, trying to give you the hard hitting stories, seemed almost disappointed that the ride was peaceful. They should everyone pushing off from Union Square and then a couple of blocks later stopping at a traffic light, and you could almost hear the disappointment in the anchor's head that some cyclist heads weren't cracked.

    This is a major step for CM, and goes a long way toward proving that not everyone that takes a bike to the streets on the last Friday of the month is a hooligan intent on causing mayhem.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stacy
    Exactly! And no guarantee that the Police won't change their definition halfway through the route, or that the definition won't vary from one cop to another.

    Stacy
    My point is that finding the correct legal definition for procession and holding the police to it is the key to protecting the rights of cyclists who travel in groups *and* upholding the police departments' ability to enforce the actual traffic laws that do improve public safety. Police must take actions and judges must make legal decisions based on what the law actually says. If there is no applicable legal definition for procession, then common-use dictionary definitions may apply. The relevant Webster's dictionary definition is "a group of individuals moving along in an orderly often ceremonial way". The American Heritage dictionary definition that is applicable is "A group of persons, vehicles, or objects moving along in an orderly, formal manner." Here the important distinction is the orderly, formal, ceremonial nature of the movement, since traffic control devices and intruding traffic would ordinarily disrupt the geometric arrangement of the procession, as in the case of a parade or funeral procession.

    The citizens have the established right to assemble peacefully, and they have the right to travel from one place to another. This implies that they must have the right to travel in the vicinity of one another, as long as they obey the traffic laws. When traveling in such a manner they are simply traffic. Only when they must violate the usual rules of the road to stay together and/or in a particular formation are they unusual from a traffic safety standpoint, and therefore justifiably considered a procession.

  14. #14
    Junior Member bluegirl's Avatar
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    one of my friends showed me the flyer the cops were handing out and i just laughed at it and said it was BS.

    i don't understand how the cops can rightfully arrest someone and seize his/her bike for a traffic violation.

    the police presence seemed much lighter than last time, though i was usually near the front. at least they didn't have the helicopters following us.
    "Get a bicycle. You will not regret it. If you live."
    Mark Twain "Taming the Bicycle"

  15. #15
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluegirl
    i don't understand how the cops can rightfully arrest someone and seize his/her bike for a traffic violation.
    Apparently they aren't arresting cyclists for traffic code violations. They are arresting cyclists for violation of the parade permit requirement.

    This is what I think the police have backward. They should be ticketing all the cyclists who violate the traffic laws, not arresting those who happen to be bicycling in groups. The police think they are enforcing the parade permit requirement effectively, but they aren't, because it is impossible to determine reliably if an individual cyclist intended to be part of a parade or not - a bicycle alone does not demonstrate intent the way a white hood, strike sign, or flowered float does. And in my opinion, only the organizers of an unpermitted parade should be fined for failure to obtain a permit. The traffic law is what should be applied to the individual participants - and by traffic law I mean obedience of red lights and other rules of the road that cyclists can easily obey while riding in a group.

    The only arrests I've heard of for traffic violations are where cyclists would not identify themselves or were otherwise uncooperative with the officer giving the citation, preventing the citation from being served.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by sggoodri
    Apparently they aren't arresting cyclists for traffic code violations. They are arresting cyclists for violation of the parade permit requirement.
    Actually, in November, the arrests were preemptive...people didn't even have a chance to paradde before the nets came down.

  17. #17
    Senior Member vincenzosi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laika
    Actually, in November, the arrests were preemptive...people didn't even have a chance to paradde before the nets came down.
    I swear, I feel like a broken record sometimes. I must've said exactly that about a million times. People keep saying the police were only arresting people who were doing something wrong. What people who weren't there, yet think they know what happened, don't understand is that they were pre-emptively bagging people just, basically, for being there before they even did anything.

    Glad someone else is finally saying it. Of course, it would be another New Yorker...
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  18. #18
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vincenzosi
    I swear, I feel like a broken record sometimes. I must've said exactly that about a million times. People keep saying the police were only arresting people who were doing something wrong. What people who weren't there, yet think they know what happened, don't understand is that they were pre-emptively bagging people just, basically, for being there before they even did anything.
    I do condemn NYPD for arresting cyclists just for being on bikes at the time and place of a CM ride. The police believed that they were enforcing the parade permit requirement given the knowledge of a planned CM ride. The problem is that it's completely unenforceable on individual cyclists. There is no permit requirement for showing up somewhere on a bike, and the proper enforcement action for a moving violation is a traffic ticket.

    A lot of CM supporters try to create a cyclists-versus-police or cyclists-versus-motorists conflict where it need not exist, and this looking-for-trouble attitude only encourages the kind of groupthink and thoughtless backlash that gets innocent cyclists arrested. But I expect the police to be more professional; they should understand which actions are allowed under the law (cycling where there are lots of other cyclists) and which are not (running red lights, failure to yield, operating at night without a headlamp, etc.). But when you combine cyclists who are looking for a conflict with imperfect police officers who haven't been educated (or care) about the finer legal points, this kind of mess is bound to happen. The solution is to get the cyclists to work with the police and to build an understanding about safe and lawful cycling. But this requires CM participants to want a solution rather than a fight.

  19. #19
    Senior Member vincenzosi's Avatar
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    The police believed that they were enforcing the parade permit requirement given the knowledge of a planned CM ride.
    No they didn't. The believed that they were about to stop a bunch of hooligans on bikes from riding in the streets. If they were enforcing the parade permit, they would have had to have waited until someone actually started riding.

    A lot of CM supporters try to create a cyclists-versus-police or cyclists-versus-motorists conflict where it need not exist, and this looking-for-trouble attitude only encourages the kind of groupthink and thoughtless backlash that gets innocent cyclists arrested.
    Nothing to create, my friend. What I saw with my own eyes wasn't cyclists looking for a fight, it was police overstepping their boundaries. The CM riders I saw being harassed weren't saying a word or doing anything illegal.

    As for your your request for cyclists to work with the police, I'd like that to. In a perfect world, it would be great. But the sheer lack of professionalism police in this city have when dealing with cyclists (see how the truck that doored and killed a messenger wasn't even ticketed for it? That's just one example) is inexcusable. Cyclists aren't public servants, the police are, and they should be the one wanting a solution, not to crack heads, confiscate bikes, and harrass riders.

    I'm really tired of the burden of making the change being put on cyclists, particularly in this city. There are plenty of organizations doing the work you speak about, and in spite of those organizations, the hard work they've done, and the significant results they've had, there's still the problem.
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  20. #20
    coitus non circum. Mars's Avatar
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    Hear hear. The police are charged with upholding the law. Authority is not given to them to overstep that boundary by one inch. Cyclists or other disenfranchised groups do not need to seek police permission or tolerance to exercise their legal rights. A judge has ruled that the police have not interpreted the law correctly in their previous actions. If they continue with this harassment, badge numbers and names should be recored and complaints filed. They should be disciplined or fired, not reached out to.

  21. #21
    Junior Member bluegirl's Avatar
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    i'm glad i showed up late to the Nov CM ride, otherwise i could have been one of the cyclists who was arrested for just being at the starting point of the ride. i cork intersections during the ride, but if i'm worried i'll be arrested, i take off. but i can't do much if the cops are going to arrest me for just breathing.

    i've seen groups of motorcyclists zipping around brooklyn in what would be defined as a "procession". i'm sure they don't have to worry about their motorcycles being confiscated.

    on a side note, i was asked to define "police" on an IQ test i was doing today. a list of expletives came to mind, but i held back (oh, that polite canadian upbringing)
    "Get a bicycle. You will not regret it. If you live."
    Mark Twain "Taming the Bicycle"

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