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New York bike riders gear up to be arrested

March 30, 2007|From Newsday

NEW YORK — Participants in tonight's Critical Mass bicycle ride are expecting arrests if police enforce new regulations requiring a permit for rides of more than 50 cyclists.

The monthly gatherings routinely draw hundreds of riders, and tonight's will be the first under the new rules.

"I'm afraid we are going to see a return to the police actions of 2004 and 2005," said Marilyn Horan, who has been participating in Critical Mass rides for a decade. "Police could once again block off streets at both ends, corral and arrest cyclists." Police arrested scores of riders in August 2004, when the city was hosting the Republican National Convention, and about 50 in April 2005.

The Police Department instituted the controversial regulations last month without City Council input. They define any group of 50 or more cyclists, pedestrians or vehicles as a "parade" requiring a permit.

Critical Mass participants say the rules are designed to crack down on their event.

They also say the group has no central organization, and thus no person designated to apply for the permit.

Paul Browne, the Police Department's chief spokesman, defended the regulations.

"Persons who break the law, whether individually or in groups, remain subject to summons or arrest," he said. "A parade permit gives groups the ability to engage in conduct that would otherwise be illegal, whether it's groups on foot marching up Fifth Avenue on St. Patrick's Day or cyclists running lights together."

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