Cyprus motorcyclists hold protest ride over police curbs

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NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Thousands of motorcyclists staged simultaneous rides through cities and towns in Cyprus on Friday to protest a police decree that they claim infringes on their constitutional right to unfettered mobility.

Motorcyclists gathered in Nicosia, the capital of the Mediterranean island nation, and four other towns before setting off.

Riders are upset over a decree that bans large-displacement motorcycles from some city streets during the predawn hours on certain days this month. Police say the measure is needed to combat noise pollution that has gotten out of hand because of illegally modified motorcycles.

Law enforcement officials say the chief of police can issue such a decree if it's “in the public interest."

Police eased some restrictions after talks with riders but motorcycle representatives insist on their complete lifting.

Residents near busy streets have applauded the police move, which they said was long overdue but motorcyclists insist it’s collective punishment for the misdeeds of a few scofflaws.

Cyprus Motorcycle Federation President Zannetos Koumashi told The Associated Press motorcyclists had been willing to work with police to catch scofflaws but now the decree has upset many and made cooperation more difficult.