A Harlem BMX rider says the NYPD and the media overreacted when hundreds of young cyclists filled the streets in the Bronx on Sunday for a group ride. The 26-year-old, who goes by the name Dblock, says he and six friends went to the Bronx to participate in a "ride out" that had been promoted on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #everybodysrideout. Several hundred riders eventually took the Cross Bronx-Expressway en masse, interrupting motor vehicle traffic, as an NYPD helicopter whirred overhead.
Dblock, who is a member of the RR Cycle Squad 88, told Gothamist Thursday he thinks the media wrongly focused on the ride's impact on drivers, and not the harsh arrests he witnessed later that day, at Tenth Avenue and 57th Street.
"They put all of the negative parts on the news, but none of the good parts," Dblock said. "They didn't put the part about kids saying they like to bike to stay out of trouble. They just made us look bad."
An Inside Edition story published Tuesday, headlined "Groups of Cyclists Causing Congestion and Absolute Mayhem in the Streets, Investigation Finds," included accounts from at least one producer who participated in the ride out to "document the chaos."
According to Dblock, police came "out of nowhere" on bicycles and scooters and began forcibly arresting cyclists, some of whom are in their mid-teens. He referenced videos posted on Facebook that show police arresting a young man lying on the ground at 57th Street and Tenth. Another video, posted by Ronald Foster, shows a young man outside the 32nd Precinct in Harlem with blood on his knee and elbow. "Three hours held inside in handcuffs, no medical attention from inside," Foster says, adding that the 15-year-old is his son.
Sixteen people participating in the ride were arrested in Manhattan on Sunday and charged with disorderly conduct, according to the NYPD.
Group rides of fifty or more have been illegal in NYC since 2008. Streetsblog reports that the law stems from a Critical Mass crackdown following the 2004 Republican National Convention.
Attorney Daniel Flanzig, who primarily represents cyclists and pedestrians involved in traffic crashes, said there's no established protocol for safely pulling over a cyclist. In 2013, he represented 25-year-old Emily Dalton after a police officer knocked her off of her bike during a traffic stop.
"If you need to take him off the bike, you need to find a safe way to do it," Flanzig said Thursday. "There's no training that I'm aware of for police officers to have a cyclist safely stop or dismount."
The NYPD did not immediately comment on cyclist arrest protocols.
As for riding en-masse on a highway, "It's not a safe practice, let's put it that way," Flanzig said. "We appreciate their enthusiasm, and it was a beautiful thing to see, hundreds of people on bicycles. But perhaps the highway is not the best place to ride your bike."
"It sucks," Dblock said, of the Sunday arrests. "It makes some of the kids never want to ride no more. They could be selling drugs, they could be robbing people, but they are out riding bikes. They're not on their couch watching TV."
"They [the NYPD] don't like when we unite. It's power. They think we more than them," he added. "We don't got no weapons. 'Bikes up guns down'—that's everybody's phrase. That's the phrase that keeps these kids out of trouble."