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Archive for February, 2011

‘Jerks’ Rhetoric, Bike Crackdown Leads To Brutal Assault Of Cyclist

February 24, 2011 By: Peter Smith Category: Advocacy

Dangerous rhetoric directed at cyclists should not be tolerated, much less condoned, by any of us. Gosh forbid any of us actually participated in anything so crazy and reckless.

We warned that the verbal attacks by NYCDOT and TA would lead to cyclists being physically attacked even more than they already were — and now we have at least one physical attack, caught on video, that lends credence to this argument:

The cops will not be charged, in part, because there will be little to no pressure applied to them for one or more reasons, which include, but are not limited to:

  1. NYCDOT and TA have given the police and other citizens even less reason to treat cyclists respectfully, and
  2. The full surveillance video hasn’t been released, so none of us can see the full beat-down.

It is theoretically possible that this is just another case of police brutality by steroid-popping cops — like the cop who tackled an unsuspecting cyclist, but it seems unlikely — whatever crime had allegedly been committed was already done/over with. The cops needed a pretext, and bicycle ‘advocates’ gave them one. Riding on the sidewalk an arrestable offense? In the new New York, yes. At least the Critical Mass cop was arrested, if not eventually convicted of assault (though, he was convicted of lying) — but his victim was white. Will this assault on a non-white victim make the Huffington Post? I wouldn’t count on it. Even if we could count on overcoming the race issues, this is a new New York City — one that slanders cyclists as ‘jerks’.

If this violence was not caught on surveillance camera, we might never have known about it. Who knows how many cyclists these cops beat up, arrested, and humiliated off-camera.

And if police officers, who are sworn to ‘protect and serve’, are doing this to citizens, imagine what type of free reign non-officers have to harass and terrorize cyclists. It’s a scary proposition. I wouldn’t want to be a cyclist in NYC right now — especially not a cyclist of an easily-identifiable minority race.

Hopefully the head of NYCDOT, Janette Sadik-Khan, and the head of TA, Paul Steely White, call off this attack on cyclists and cycling in New York City before anyone else is seriously hurt and humiliated, or worse. It’s time for cycling ‘advocates’ to renounce their harmful rhetoric and speak about the respect that every human being deserves, even cyclists, and they should do this even if it is not a popular position with drivers.

And it should go without saying that the reason people ride on the sidewalks is because there is no safe and comfortable place to ride on the streets in that area — that’s on the Mayor and City Council, and NYCDOT/JSK. I can’t tell the exact location of the deli/sidewalk in question, but the Google Street View shows no bike lanes in and around Westchester Square, and the Google Maps Bicycle Layer shows about zero bike lanes in and around that area. There are plenty of things NYCDOT and TA can be doing instead of attacking cyclists with reckless rhetoric.