Yesterday, bicyclists and politicians protested the NYPD's attempt to change parade permits. The NY Times explains the police proposal:

The proposal, up for debate at a public hearing yesterday, would define a parade, which requires a permit, as a procession or race of 30 or more “vehicles, bicycles or other devices moved by human power, or ridden or herded animals proceeding together upon any public street or roadway.”

Under the proposal, if the procession continued for more than two city blocks and if the group did not follow all traffic regulations, the threshold for a permit would drop to 10 people. Recent court rulings have said the rules are too vague.

By that reasoning, it might mean that many gatherings would require permits, like rallies, funeral processions and bike tours of the city. Of course, the proposal seems to be targeted at Critical Mass, which police have made its number one target on the last Friday of the month. Civil rights lawyer Norman Siegal said, "The NYPD is attempting to define ‘parade’ and the circumstances under which New Yorkers need to obtain a permit simply to ‘get’ Critical Mass. What is most likely to occur is the rules will be selectively enforced. Favored groups that engage in favored activities would be subject to minimal enforcement. But for the disfavored ... like the Critical Mass bike riders, the new rules will stifle, or seriously impair, their activities."

am New York reports that the NYPD denies that funerals or wedding processions would require permits - so far! And here's a statement from City Councilwoman Gale Brewer about the permit proposal:

The proposed changes by the NYPD would still place an onerous responsibility on the daily lives of New Yorkers. In effect, they promise to discourage New Yorkers from engaging in ordinary, everyday and universally accepted practices of bicycling and walking by installing fear of arrest; these proposed regulations have a chilling effect on completely innocuous and non-disruptive traditional activities, such as walking and cycling tours. We know that these proposed regulations are a response to the challenges posed by the Critical Mass bicycle rides during the Republican Convention and on-going. But, as a result, is it really necessary that New York be the only city in the world requiring a parade permit to organize a walking or cycling tour? It will not be a benefit if groups of visitors decline to use the walking and cycling tours of our City in favor of vehicles, simply to avoid obtaining the required permits and route approval.

Stay tuned to see what happens next - the NYPD doesn't need mayoral or City Council approval to change the rule.

Photograph by skidder via Contribute