NYC: Rides of over 50 require permits

NEW YORK (AP) – Bicyclists and pedestrians who hit the city streets in groups of 50 or more for processions, races and protests must get permits under new rules adopted by the police.

The requirement, unveiled Friday, comes after months of debate, and will take effect in 30 days. Earlier proposals were attacked by critics and in court rulings as being too vague. The previous drafts would have required permits for a group of pedestrians gathered on a sidewalk.

Still, the new rules face lingering concern, especially from those who say they are an attempt to stop the monthly Critical Mass bike rides. Those rides attract cyclists who support non-polluting forms of transportation.

“We still do not believe that lawful rides, with as few as 50 bikes, should require police permits,” said Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. He nonetheless said the new rules were “a substantial improvement” over earlier versions.

Police spokesman Paul Browne said in response to criticism, “Some critics will find fault no matter how reasonably the rules are drawn.”

Christine Quinn, the City Council speaker, said she supports the new rules but promised to monitor them to ensure people’s civil liberties are not violated.