Streams

Critical Mass Riders Win Lawsuit Against the City

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bicyclists who were wrongfully detained and arrested while participating in "Critical Mass" rides won a $965,000 lawsuit against the city. The 83 cyclists will receive $500 each for getting a minor citation and one plaintiff who was arrested multiple times and injured in the process could receive up to $35,000.

The civil rights lawsuit, filed in 2007, claimed police were out of line in targeting the cyclists, who say they were riding in a group for safety.

This settlement does not include lawsuits filed by some of the reported 264 people arrested during the 2004 Republican National Convention while on a Critical Mass bike ride. Before the 2004 Republican National Convention, the NYPD had escorted the riders through the city, blocking traffic for up to a thousand riders. But when the convention came to town Attorney Gideon Oliver said police began ticketing and arresting cyclists.

“It was only because so many people who were arrested went and fought the charges,” Oliver said, "that the police department shifted it's policy from making mass arrests to issuing mass summonses on the rides.”

Ken Coughlin, a plaintiff in the case, said that even with multiple wins in the courts the heavy police presence during the rides has reduced turnout. “A joyous event celebrating green transportation that takes place in hundreds of cities around the world is, for some reason, intolerable in this city,” Coughlin said. “The questions we all should be asking is why."

The police say cyclists on the Critical Mass rides violate traffic laws. They have used police on scooters, a mobile command unit and helicopters to follow the riders throughout the city.

The city said the settlement was in the best interest of all the parties.

CORRECTION: Plaintiffs awards ranged from $500 to $35,000 with an average award of around $5,000. While some of the awards were for minor citations, many of the plaintiffs were arrested, spent time in jail and had to make multiple court appearances. Also, people at an event covered in the course of reporting this story said the police crackdown led to fewer participants in Critical Mass rides, but Mr. Coughlin did not say this.

 

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Comments [6]

BikesNotCars

buzzsawmonkey: Your concern for the safety of cyclists is touching. Do you propose reining in jaywalking pedestrians in similar fashion? As "lawbreaking" as they might be, cyclists are doing us all a tremendous favor by choosing clean and blessedly quiet transportation. We need to all chill out and focus on the true threat to life and limb -- lawbreaking drivers.

Oct. 22 2010 10:59 PM
BikesNotCars

buzzsawmonkey: Your concern for the safety of cyclists is touching. Do you propose reining in jaywalking pedestrians in similar fashion? As "lawbreaking" as they might be, cyclists are doing us all a tremendous favor by choosing clean and blessedly quiet transportation. We need to all chill out and focus on the true threat to life and limb -- lawbreaking drivers.

Oct. 22 2010 10:49 PM
Steven M.

How many motorists have the police arrested for violating traffic laws? What a joke.

Oct. 21 2010 10:50 AM
Nathan from Brooklyn

Judging from this legal settlement, it seems more likely the NYPD are "the biggest scofflaws in this city".

Oct. 21 2010 10:19 AM
buzzsawmonkey

Bicycle riders are the biggest scofflaws in this city. They ride against the traffic, they ignore traffic laws, stop signs, and traffic lights, they ride at night in dark clothing without lights, or even reflectors. Many ride track bikes, which have no brakes, on the street. They ignore lanes---particularly bike lanes---and ignore the directional indicators on the bike lanes.

This city needs a severe crackdown on cyclists. Ticket the hell out of them. Arrest them. Make them buy license plates and insurance, make them use lights---and fine them harshly and confiscate their bikes if they do not learn to be good citizens.

Oct. 20 2010 01:33 PM
Peter from NYC from Manhattan


NYC has paid out $1 billion due to illegal and/or inappopriate NYPD actions over the past 10 years. Here's another $1 million coming out of our pocketbooks. Yet the madness continues.

While this is terrific news for the riders, when does the Mayor's Office get its wake-up call that this can't continue? It's time for Ray Kelly to pack up.

Oct. 20 2010 11:42 AM

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