If the peace and quiet around Mayor Bloomberg's mansion or the forced sterility of Union Square isn't enough to convince you that the NYPD is using your tax dollars appropriately, let this arrest of a cyclist and Vietnam veteran after not breaking the law assuage you.
On Friday, a group of around 30 Critical Mass riders on their way to Union Square, accompanied by a phalanx of approximately 40 NYPD officers. According to several of the ride's participants, around 8:45 p.m. the group of cyclists moved off of the bike lane on Lafayette Street to avoid a limousine and make a right turn on Astor. This maneuver is clearly within 34 RCNY § 4-12(p), which allows cyclists to leave designated bike lanes "when preparing for a turn" or "when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions…that make it unsafe to continue within such bicycle path or lane."
Regardless of the statute, cyclist Robert Nash was stopped by police for exiting the bike lane. When asked by his fellow riders why Nash was being detained, the sergeant at the scene seemed to stumble on the charges. Nash finishes his sentence for him: "Improper use of a bicycle!"
Nash had his military ID, but because it didn't list his home address, the police gave Nash a choice: give your address and receive a summons, or be "locked up," a common enough ultimatum. Nash declined, and was taken to the 9th Precinct. Later he was transferred to The Tombs, and he was released the next morning after the DA's office declined to press charges.
An NYPD spokesperson confirmed that Nash was taken in at 9:01 p.m., but couldn't verify what he was charged with or how long he spent in jail. "He was arrested for some violation." We contacted the Manhattan DA's office; a spokeswoman noted that because Nash's charges were dropped, his record was sealed. So there was no way of knowing exactly why Nash was arrested in the first place? "No."