Volume 76, Number 44 | March 28 - April 3, 2007

City decides time’s up for Mass lawsuit

By Julie Shapiro

After a two-year legal battle, the city of New York has dropped its lawsuit against Time’s Up!

The lawsuit, filed March 22, 2005, targeted the monthly Critical Mass bicycle rides in Manhattan, in which large groups of cyclists ride together. The city sought to require that Critical Mass obtain a parade permit, and also wanted to stop Time’s Up! from promoting Critical Mass.

“We’re very happy that the case was dropped,” said Bill DiPaola, director of Time’s Up! “We’re hoping that this is a first step in a more positive relationship between bicyclists and New York City.”

The city was forced to drop the lawsuit after the Police Department instituted a new rule, said Sheryl Neufeld, senior counsel in the Administrative Law Division of the New York City Law Department.

The new rule defines a parade as a procession of 50 or more pedestrians, vehicles or bicycles, Neufeld said. The old rule did not specify a number of participants.

“Because of the rule change, the city had no choice but to discontinue its lawsuit against Time’s Up!…as it was brought under the old rules,” Neufeld said in a statement. “The City is confident that the new rules accommodate the needs both of individuals who seek to participate in parades, including group bicycle rides, and of those who wish to use the streets for travel.”

“This case was outrageous to begin with, and it depleted our finances,” said DiPaola, who was named in the suit. “We’re small and underfunded. [The lawsuit] cost one-third of our budget.”

DiPaola was particularly frustrated because Time’s Up! does not run the Manhattan Critical Mass, which has no leader, he said.

The next Critical Mass ride will be the first one held under the Police Department’s new regulations. Cyclists will meet this Fri., March 30, at Union Square’s north plaza at 7 p.m. to hear speakers, including Councilmember Rosie Mendez. The ride will begin at approximately 7:30.

The city hasn’t decided on any future action against Time’s Up! or Critical Mass, said Gabriel Taussig, chief of the city Law Department’s Administrative Law Division.

“We intend that the new regulations be enforced or complied with,” Taussig said.


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