Judge Lewis Kaplan Rules on NYC Critical Mass Laws

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Judge Lewis Kaplan Rules on NYC Critical Mass Laws

When I read about this yesterday, I was disappointed but not surprised. It was a tough decision to not post about it but that’s mostly because I didn’t really know how to put it all into perspective for readers of this blog. What I will say is that Critical Mass is a touchy subject. I personally don’t ride in it and I’ll keep my opinions to myself. Still though, ruling that an arbitrary number of 50 cyclists requires a permit is a bit, well, unconstitutional in my opinion.

Streetsblog presents an interesting argument
on Judge Lewis Kaplan’s 56-page ruling citing the following excerpt:

Read on below.

Large groups of cyclists may well be more visible than individual cyclists and may take up less space than large groups of vehicles, but countervailing factors such as their lack of predictability and their tendency to try to stay together in a moving column, even if this means going through a red light, nevertheless endanger other travelers and disrupt orderly traffic flow. Their presence may add traffic volume that otherwise would be absent.

This reality was borne out by a video clip of the September 2007 Manhattan Critical Mass ride shown… at trial. As the Court noted at the time, the clip shows a cyclist engaging in dangerous behavior by pulling out and to the right of a motor vehicle that itself was in the process of pulling out of the bike lane to its right. The biker comes up from the motor vehicle driver’s blind spot and passes the motor vehicle on the right just as the motor vehicle begins to pull to the right and out of the bike lane. I find that the video demonstrates the danger of the cyclist’s actions.

The video he is referencing is above (at the :37 second mark). So I get it now, a car is parked in the bike lane and the result is the cyclist’s “unpredictable” action (riding around the car), leading to a ticket? Please pull your head out of your ass Judge Kaplan.

Again, I’m not arguing for or against Critical Mass. I just find Judge Lewis Kaplan’s thesis statement a bit weak and misinformed. Maybe if he spent more time on a bike in this city he’d be a bit more sympathetic. Like that will ever happen.

Read the rest of the Streetsblog entry here.