5BBC Sues NYPD to Protect Group Cycling
On March 27, the 5BBC and several other affected parties filed a lawsuit in Federal court, asking a judge to stop the NYPD's new rules that would let the NYPD ticket or arrest any "recognizable group" of 50 or more cyclists that ride together without first obtaining a parade permit from the Police Department.
Suing city government is not one of the ordinary roles of the 5BBC. But organizing group bicycle rides is. The NYPD's parade rules essentially outlaw large bike rides, under the dubious claim that bicycle rides are a danger to public health and safety.
Although the NYPD rule changes were apparently intended for use against the monthly "Critical Mass" rides, the rules also apply to any 5BBC day trip that might draw 50 or more riders, and perhaps even to the 5BBC Montauk Century.
We looked into applying for permits for our rides, but found that it was a bureaucratic nightmare. The rules for parades are totally inappropriate for bicycle rides. For example, 5th Ave on a Sunday is prohibited, even though most of 5th Ave is an official NYC bike route. The width of every roadway in the route must be listed in the permit, and the 5BBC would have to appoint a "Chief Officer" for each "parade", who would be "Responsible for the Strict Observance of all Rules and Regulations of Said Permit" (see for yourself here).
We could have stood by, ignored the new rules, and let the police arrest bicyclists at Critical Mass and hoped that they wouldn't come for us. But the 5BBC board decided that we could not do that, not when the civil rights of all bicyclists in New York City and indeed group bicycling itself was under attack.
All of the major documents of the suit are available on line at the 5BBC's casefiles page. Status updates and new files will also be posted there as they become available.
In the meantime, the most important thing you can do to help fight the City's misguided policies is to ride your bike, preferably with the 5BBC on our day trips and on the 5BBC Montauk Century. Also, if you're not a 5BBC member, or haven't yet renewed for 2007, we need your support.