NYPD Emerges as New Focus for NYC’s Livable Streets Movement


Arrest Her! T.A. membership coordinator Abby King tears up the streets on a "sport utility bicycle."

With their rampant illegal parking, refusal to enforce basic traffic laws and unwillingness to treat pedestrian injuries and fatalities with any level of seriousness, the Police Department is establishing itself as the New York City government agency most in need of Livable Streets reform (is that cheering I hear coming out of DOT headquarters?) Close to the top of the list of things that need to change: The way that the NYPD treats cyclists.

A few weeks ago we caught blogger Robert Jones' story of being harassed and detained by police in Brooklyn for momentarily riding his bicycle on a sidewalk to avoid being hit by a city bus. While the police action was obviously excessive, riding a bike on the sidewalk is, technically, illegal so what are you going to do? If the cops are looking for an excuse to stop you, riding on the sidewalk will do the trick.

Now another story of NYPD cyclist harassment comes along and this one appears to be completely unjustified. Abby King is Transportation Alternatives' generally law-abiding 23-year-old bookkeeper and membership coordinator. This is what she says happened to her on Wednesday, November 14:

Today I was harassed by four plainclothes cops and summonsed for disorderly conduct while riding down the Second Avenue bicycle lane in the East Village obeying all traffic laws. I was riding the T.A. Xtracycle and was forced into traffic by a black sedan parked in the bike lane. As I passed by I said, “Bike lane!”

The car, driving in the bike lane, followed me and forced me to stop by sandwiching me against the lane of parked cars. A plainclothes police officer jumped out of the sedan and began writing me a ticket. He claimed that I kicked his car as I passed him. But the Xtracycle is giant and difficult to maneuver. It would have been near impossible for me to kick their car and still keep my balance. The officer did not put his name on the ticket and wrote “Refused” in the line where I was supposed to put my signature.

After handing me the ticket the officer ran back to the car and sped off. I caught up to them at the next light and again asked for their badge numbers and told them that they had mistakenly written “refused” on the signature line (they never asked me for my signature). Both the driver and the ticketing officer again refused to give me their names or badge numbers and drove off.

Pathetic. If you believe that you were harassed by police or ticketed unfairly while riding, tell TA about it.