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‘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.

5 Comments to “‘Jerks’ Rhetoric, Bike Crackdown Leads To Brutal Assault Of Cyclist”


  1. StedyRuckus says:

    Did you watch your own linked video?
    Dude was in a deli going to the counter… where is the bicycle?
    Just because they gave him a ticket for riding on the sidewalk, doesn’t mean he was riding on the sidewalk. The surveillance video shows him inside walking to a counter, before the shit goes down.

    Blaming this on T.A. and NYC DOT is 1)incorrect - there is no bicycle riding 2)excuses the cops for blatant use of excessive force against a child.

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  2. I am speechless…that it happened is terrible. Being a cyclist myself, I truely hope it never happens, however (first source) stories have reached me of guns being pulled on cyclists.

    What I do not get…why do you blame TA and the DOT? Really…you are pointing your arms in the wrong direction. Some people bike like jerks. They mess up our reputation and make the streets unsafer for all cyclists - even the ones that do follow the rules, like many of the people I know. Sidewalks are off limits. Now that cycling is booming, it was about time to start a campaign on following biking rules and cycle polite.

    Do not, please, do NOT ‘excuse’ behavior of idiots like these by pointing at the people working their butts of for safer streets and doing a great job at it. Wrong enemy.

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  3. SVB

    Your argument is flat out bankrupt. There are jerks on every form of transit. There will never not be. It’s not our job to try and convince all cyclists to stop being jerks, and it’s not our job to prevent jerks from being cyclists. Frankly, since there will always be jerks out there, I’d rather more of them rode bikes than drove cars.

    But, they won’t. Cars give jerks more power, and insulate them from the negative side effects of jerkiness. And I don’t hear people threatening to take away car infrastructure because of the jerks. “If only there weren’t so many people speeding, we could keep the George Washington Bridge open for cars.” “Those inconsiderate double-parkers forced us to remove parking for all of Canal Street.” Never happens.

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  4. I can’t think of anything, in transportation or otherwise, that has been propelled to public acceptance and popularity with a campaign of finger wagging by its supposed advocates. What do people base this odd line of thought on?

    All I know is it is the same language that people who oppose bicycling outright use, either a “Now that…” or “But before”, in both cases making less lethal infrastructure rhetorically contingent on the good behavior of everyone who might use it. Where on earth is this idea coming from? Certainly not from any other kind of infrastructure you can name. It’s more like how one deals with children, which is telling.

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  5. Why is the NYPD giving tickets to cyclists for going through lights in an empty Central Park, but not to people who actually create real danger by riding on the sidewalk? (The 19 year old was not ticketed, he was given a warning)

    What the hell is with the NYPD ? I see cyclists on sidewalks, goin the wrong way on one way streets, running lights, I see people on track bikes with no brakes ride right past police officers who don’t even bat an eye at the flagrant lawbreaking. Then they’ll pull something like this. Who runs the police department? I get the impression cops have inadequate supervision on the street level, and no leadership at the department level.

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