Vehicles for Social Change

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It's November 1, 3:30 pm and I'm about to get on my bike and ride uptown. At 67 degrees, it's a perfect day for biking - not (just) for my personal comfort, but the shock of the warmth reminds us that the city should be doing all it can to encourage more bicycling everyday. NYC's sustainability plan inexplicably does not seem make non-polluting mobility a priority, despite our low air quality/high asthma rates, our perfect flat tight terrain for cycling and the growing number of people of all ages and backgrounds on two wheels in any weather.

It ain't so safe here (I know of three riders hit by cars this week alone, one seriously injured) but riders are finding safety in numbers, and more are riding in groups as a normal part of their commute. You'd think there would be more encouragement for the motorists to slow down, share the road, and to face severe penalties for these all too frequent accidents, but in NYC, a summons is rare, even if a cyclist gets killed. Doesn't exactly encourage a renaissance in streetlife here, and now, they have added a new twist to the dangers here - arrest!

As you can see in detail on Transportation Alternative's website, the NYPD's New Bid to Criminalize Group Biking and Walking means that any group of ten or more cyclists traveling down a street who violate any traffic law, rule or regulation for more than two blocks can be arrested for parading without a permit.

It's not just cyclists being targeted: Every group of 30 or more cyclists or pedestrians, in any public street, must obtain a permit and approved route from the NYPD, even if they abide by all traffic laws. Groups without permits or groups that leave their permitted routes would be subject to arrest.

Yipes!! Fortunately, these rules are not final yet, and now is the time to voice your opposition to these climate changing threats, in writing or in person - there's a public hearing on Monday, November 27th. The rules can put into action immediately thereafter, so don't delay. Click and take a few minutes to reply...all sustainability advocates, regardless of where they live, can have a positive effect.

And save the date, Sunday, January 7th, 2007. This is Time's Up! next annual Memorial Ride. Let's hope we lose fewer riders than in 2005 (21 people) and that the city rolls out the red carpet for this practical solution to many of our community's environmental and social ills.


Thanks for this, Wendy.. Can't tell you how excited I was to see your name in the byline.

Welcome to WorldChanging.

- Dawn (also of o2 Toronto/Ontario)

Posted by: Dawn Danby on November 2, 2006 12:12 AM

Find out more about the free speech implications of the proposed rule at Assemble For Rights website at They have proposed a sound alternative, based on Washington DC's rules. City Council members are responding, let's hope thousands of citizens will too!

On the right - click the link to send the Mayor a message - here's what I just sent:

Please withdraw the NYPD's proposed 'parading' rule, and support the NYC First Amendment Act, which facilitates consitutionally protected protest activities while minimizing disruption.

Thanks much - it's the climate-friendly thing to do, too!

Posted by: Wendy Brawer on November 10, 2006 11:42 AM