Critical Mass ready for Halloween ride

Cyclists are donning Halloween costumes for Friday’s Critical Mass ride — the monthly event that has hit the streets the last Friday of every month for 14 years. They’re hoping that the spectacle, however, doesn’t attract too much heat from the NYPD.

Published October 26, 2007 by NY Metro 
By Amy Zimmer 

WEST VILLAGE. Cyclists are donning Halloween costumes for Friday’s Critical Mass ride — the monthly event that has hit the streets the last Friday of every month for 14 years.

They’re hoping that the spectacle, however, doesn’t attract too much heat from the NYPD.

Liane Nikitovich plans to wear a “sexy cop outfit,” with a beauty pageant-style sash saying “Miss Critical Mass NYC” and a hat with a police emblem on one side and, on the other, a logo from Times Up!, the nonprofit advocacy group that promotes the ride.

“It’s mainly a joke on what’s been going on with Critical Mass,” said Nikitovich, who joined the ride three years ago, right around when police began to crack down on it. “A lot of the officers tell us they don’t want to be there ticketing us, so it’s a wink to them.” Plus, she said, “I feel it’s hard for a cop to arrest someone dressed as a sexy cop.”

The NYPD adopted new permit regulations this year — which many believed were in direct response to Critical Mass — defining parades as any “recognizable group” of 50 or more pedestrians, vehicles or bicycles that proceed “upon any public street or roadway.”

Civil Rights advocates are continuing to fight the rules. Last week the New York City Bar Association’s president Barry Kamins sent a letter to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in response to comments she made in the New York Blade about the NYPD being allowed to “promulgate these rules without legislative input.” The association said the City Council shouldn’t defer to the NYPD and should amend the Administrative Code to define what a parade is and establish “specific, content-neutral criteria for issuing parade permits.”

Critical Mass has yet to obtain a permit for its monthly rides since the new rules took effect. Riders have been converging at Union Square, as usual, but then dispersing in small groups. And though the rides haven’t turned into ticketing frenzies, riders can’t be sure what to expect, explained Barbara Ross, a Times Up! volunteer.

“My concern is that the concept of a group ride is in question,” Ross said. “Everyone is starting to focus on bike safety, and most people agree the more bikes there are on the road, the safer it is.”