As the former executive director of an organization promoting bicycling for transportation purposes (as well as walking, mass transit, and sustainable development), I can tell you that one of the biggest problems bicyclists face, in most cities across the United States, is uninformed and hostile police. New York City is apparently no exception. Hostile and illegal treatment from the police is an ongoing problem there. Luckily, some wrongfully treated cyclists are getting compensation for the wrongful treatment. BikeRadar reported last month:
New York City agreed to pay $965,000 to 83 cyclists who claimed they were wrongfully arrested during Critical Mass group rides dating from September 2004 to January 2006.
The civil rights lawsuit was ignited in 2007 by 83 cyclists arrested in Critical Mass rides over the 17 month period. According to Barbara Ross, press contact for the city’s long-time cycling advocacy and environmental group Times Up! there were more than 83 arrested but some chose not to be in the lawsuit for various reasons.
Good news for the cyclists in this lawsuit. However, there are many more who never get compensated for ill treatment by the police.
“This settlement is a victory for a wide-range of cyclists who realize the potential for a safer, more bicycle-friendly city and keep on riding in the face of years of unjustified harassment and arrests by the NYPD,” Bill DiPaola, director of cycling and environmental advocacy Time’s Up! said.
Barbara Ross, the organization’s press contact, thought it was a decent settlement but that going to trial would have been a better option. “I believe it was a fair amount for most of the plaintiffs, not all. But the best outcome would have been going to court and exposing all the dangerous, costly, unconstitutional tactics by the NYPD during that time period which continue to this day.”
Congratulations to those 83 cyclists in New York, their supporters, and their lawyers, but we’ve still got a long way to go.
If you’re a big bicycling fan, you may also want to check out and join the Biking Revolution of Love and Freedom News page on Facebook.