Joining Minneapolis, Louisville, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and the nation’s capitol, New York City instituted a curfew last night meant to curb ongoing protests against lynchings of black and brown Americans by police. For reasons unknown, and at Mayor de Blasio’s behest, this curfew also included service stoppages for app-booked mobility options like Citibike and Revel scooters.
The hastily implemented curfew was announced by Governor Cuomo around 4pm yesterday, and sent as a city-wide emergency text alert just before 8:30pm. These announcements did not include notice of reduced mobility options for New Yorkers who might potentially be trying to get home from graveyard or overnight shifts at essential jobs. Revel or Citibike do not appear to have sent push notifications to customers with their respective apps installed either.
Announcements by these companies were sent out via Twitter well after the city-wide text alert. In Citibike’s case, its tweet was sent less than half an hour before the curfew was set to come into effect.
“Once we learned of the curfew order, we began discussions with DOT [Department of Transportation] about how it applied with Revel. A little before 9 PM, DOT asked us to end operations for the evening. As a partner of DOT and all the cities we serve, we agreed to take that step,” a Revel spokesperson told Gizmodo. “Regrettably, we were unable to give our riders the advance notice they need; and moving forward, we will aim to do so to the best of our ability.”
Citibike later clarified what happened in a series of tweets which clarified that future curfews would also result in service interruptions. “We disagree with this decision and believe it is important for the system to remain open and provide a reliable transportation option,” the company wrote.
What’s most confusing though is why these services were directed to close at all. The MTA continues to operate bus service, as well as subway service until 1am. Private cars were not banned from use on roadways within the city either. And although ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft (which operates Citibike) have halted service in other cities in coordination with local curfews, both were working normally between 11pm and 5am last night.
“Our teams on the ground are working closely with each individual city to best support them based on their needs and the local situation. Some cities have requested that we suspend operations during curfew hours while others want to ensure Uber is available for essential services,” an Uber spokesperson wrote to Gizmodo. Uber was in contact with city officials and continued to operate last night based on their guidance, this spokesperson said. We’ve reached out to the Mayor’s office to clear up this discrepancy but have yet to receive a reply.
The curfew—and a doubling of the police force from the previous night to an estimated 8,000 officers—did little to discourage protesters, with large groups demonstrating in the Bronx, Midtown, Williamsburg, Crown Heights, Bed-Stuy, and elsewhere. Police across the country have been met with harsh criticism not only for the disparity in treatment towards black and brown people most recently exemplified by the killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd, but by their use of force against protesters and press.
One restaurant owner, David McAtee, was shot by police in Louisville, Kentucky who had turned off their body cameras. Photojournalist Linda Tirado was permanently blinded by a rubber bullet fired by police, while several reporters, identifying themselves as such, were pepper-sprayed. Viral footage of NYPD officers beating protesters with billy clubs or ramming them with vehicles have continued to enflame tensions locally. Law enforcement’s widespread use of tear gas that targets the respiratory system while we’re in the midst of a pandemic has been widely condemned.
In the scheme of things, bikes and scooters are the least of our problems right now—but it’s nonetheless horrifying that entire modes of transportation can be shut down at the snap of a finger, especially ones that are cheap and fill the needs of New Yorkers who can’t afford an Uber or traditional cab.
Before it even took place, Mayor de Blasio announced last night that he would enact a curfews starting at 8pm on Tuesday and extending through the rest of the week. Revel and Citibike will continue to halt operations, and ridesharing companies have been mandated to cease as well. “We were just told that Mayor de Blasio and NYPD are mandating that rideshare companies stop operating tonight, from 8 PM - 12:30 AM,” a Lyft spokesperson told Gizmodo. “We know this is difficult for those who rely on Lyft, especially essential workers and those needing to get home. We are working hard to reach an agreement that best supports New Yorkers.”
Updated with a statement from Revel, Lyft, and information on the curfew extension.
Looking for ways to advocate for black lives? Check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved.