Spring 2005, p.8

Cycling News
T.A. Legal Eagles Swoop to Protect Cyclists’ Rights

In December, T.A.’s legal committee submitted an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief to Judge William H. Pauley, who is presiding over the federal court case of Bray vs. The City of New York.

Whose streets? T.A. keeps an eye on the cops to ensure police are not harassing cyclists.
Whose streets? T.A. keeps an eye on the cops to ensure police are not harassing cyclists.

At issue in the case is whether or not Critical Mass rides must obtain a permit, and the lawfulness of the City’s clipping of bicycles locked to public signs, lamp-posts and the like. The case could set two potentially disastrous precedents. Should the court rule in favor of the City, thousands of formal and informal group bike rides would be in jeopardy, for any rides consisting of 20 of more cyclists would require a permit. T.A. is also concerned that the case might sanction the clipping of bicycles that are locked outside of bicycle racks.

While Judge Pauley has not issued a final ruling, indications are that the T.A. brief provided a timely and cogent support, protecting cyclists’ rights. To make sure that their dispute with Critical Mass does not affect day-to-day cycling in New York City, T.A. is also closely monitoring the actions of the NYPD and other government agencies. If we become aware of increased ticketing or harassment, T.A. will be quick to take additional action.

To protect cyclists’ right to ride unpermitted in groups, and cease reckless clipping and confiscation of bikes, T.A. has and will continue to work with our legal committee and the New York Civil Liberties Union. T.A. will also continue to push the City to adopt a rational policy to deal with abandoned bikes. The absence of such a policy leads to untold numbers of “stolen” bicycles every year. T.A. is planning to file similar briefs in any future cases, including the one currently in State court.

Below are excerpts from T.A.’s amicus brief in Bray vs. The City of New York:

On the ride permitting issue:“…the precedent of imposing such a permit requirement would also have a detrimental effect on many other group bicycle rides in the city. Every year in New York City there are millions of people who take part in thousands of formal and informal group bike rides.”

On the bike clipping issue:

“If bicyclists cannot leave their bicycles ‘upon any marginal or public street or any public place,’ the logical conclusion is that they can only leave them at authorized bicycle racks, and there are simply not enough racks in the city for this to be practical...The City claims 3,400 outdoor bicycle racks in the five boroughs. As there are 6,375 miles of streets (www.nycvisit.com), this means there is an average of only one bike rack for every two miles of streets.”

T.A.’s complete amicus brief is online at: http://www.transalt.org/press/testimony/041208amicusbrief.pdf

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