Full Story of My Arrest on Sunday

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Christina Thede's picture
Christina Thede
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The first part of the incident is the part that no one witnessed (that I know of) and everyone has been filling in why that cop was chasing me.  What happened was I was riding up Amsterdam on the right hand side.  The black car that we now know was the police car was double parked in the right lane.  I started to pass the car on the driver's side, when the driver opened the door into my path.  As a community of cyclists, I know you all must know this is a big danger and concern for those of us who bike in traffic. Anyway, I braked suddenly to avoid a collision.  A delivery bike behind me ran into me from behind because I had to stop so suddenly.  The driver of the vehicle and I had a brief verbal exchange, but I continued on in the right lane.  It was then that he got back in the car and pursued me.  I realized he was following and got scared, worried that this might be a severe case of road rage and who knows what he might do.  I crossed over to the left side of the street in order to shake him off.  This is where the witnesses' stories pick up.  He skidded his car perpendicular to traffic, blocking my path.  Ok, now I'm REALLY scared.  I got off my bike and started to walk it up to the side walk between the parked cars. That's when he got out of the vehicle and grabbed me from behind.   I started screaming for help and struggling thinking I was being assaulted or that he was trying to take my bike.  Suddenly, more cops showed up, and at that point I was turned over to the uniformed officers.  I was frisked, cuffed, and put in a police van, driven to the Central Park precinct (where the original plain clothes officer was from), and held for about an hour.
 
I am not accused of running a red light.  The charges against me are disorderly conduct and reckless operation of a bicycle.  Witnesses also seem to think I was charged with resisting arrest, but that's not true either.  I wanted to share this story with you (after consulting my lawyer) so you would have the accurate story and not what witnesses sort of assumed.  I am thankful that many of you have been on my side from the beginning, even without the full story.  For legal reasons, I probably won't be able to answer futher questions or participate much in discussion about this.  I just ask that if you or someone you know have photos or video of any part of this incident, please contact me at [email protected]
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so sorry

This is a terrible story and our thoughts are with you. Good luck and fight hard.

DHudes's picture
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precinct

Now what bugs me is why an officer from the Central Park precinct is doing on Amsterdam Avenue in the first place. Very clearly from http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/precinct_maps/precinct_finder.shtml the precinct boundaries are those of the park. I could understand an officer on Central Park West dealing with the park side of the road (e.g. parking violations). Amsterdam Ave. is entirely another matter, that's in the 20th precinct until 86th St.

It would seem Wishnia has excess resources if he is deploying them outisde his precinct. I urge you to pursue all avenues of action of any kind against NYPD for this incident. Even if filing a complaint about the officer being out of his precinct doesn't help you directly, it is equivalent to the prosecution tactic of piling on unrelated charges which may or may not survive at trial.

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Deployment to Chirping Chicken

I think they are allowed to take food breaks outside of the park, cops gotta eat. The outrage for me is the gross abuse of power. First the senseless tickets, then the early morning speed traps with made up speed limits. Now, manhandling and arresting a female cyclist because of a common NYC cyclist / motorist exchange.

Yeah, those apologies seem really geniune now. What are they smoking in Central Park?

hot off the press
http://gothamist.com/2011/04/06/cop_nearly_doors_cyclist_then_chase.php#

Christina:
parallel or perpendicular?

Christina Thede's picture
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Perpendicular.  There are a

Perpendicular.  There are a few small details he got a little off (although that one is kinds important to understand the scene), but the spirit of the article is good, I think.

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So sorry

Christina, I'm so sorry this happened to you, I can't imagine how scary this must have been.  Good luck with everything and keep us posted when you can.  

Also, I have pointed out mistakes in Gothamist articles in the past and they are pretty good at making changes.  It may be worth telling them to make that parrallel to perpendicular change, as it could illustrate to the readers just how irrational this asshole cop was acting.

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Cameras everywhere

Christina:

The cops are not going to help you with their surveillance video on this. Perhaps your attorney can request the help of the JCC security. It was still light out at 6 PM, so they might have the whole thing on HD.

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Outrageous and disgusting

Show those morons the Buck.Stops.Here.

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Surely the honorable officr wrote himself up for violating §1214

New York State Vehicle & Traffic Code:

§1214: No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving 
traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering 
with the movement of other traffic
BVan Nieuwenhoven's picture
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Oh boy

That comment thread on the Gothamist post is full of some very special people. 

Honestly, I think there's a lot of people out there who want to kill us, thanks to 30 years of crazy delivery cyclists and media nonsense like "Bike Bedlam". Well, forget that, it's more like "Everyone-Else Bedlam" lately. I think we're the only ones who DON'T want to see others harassed, hurt, dragged off the road, jailed, etc.

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"there's a lot of people out

 

"there's a lot of people out there who want to kill us, thanks to 30 years of crazy delivery cyclists"

Nice way to single out delivery guys as the bad cyclists, as opposed to "us" (or presumably cyclists that look like "us", whoever that is).

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There are a lot of scofflaw

There are a lot of scofflaw cyclists.

But the ones you see consistently on sidewalks and/or riding against traffic and/or blowing through redlights with abandon are delivery riders. And while I know there are some jerks in spandex out there, too, they are a drop in the bucket compared to an entire industry that seems to refuse to give any respect at all to the rules of the road. And this industry has done more to poison public opinion against cylists than any other goup (or bike lanes, or hipsters, or the DOT Commisioner, in my opinion) in Manhattan, at least.

While I personally have seen hundreds, if not thousands of violations, I have yet to see a delivery rider getting a ticket.  Unlike my spandex clad brethren who racked up 230 tickets in one month in Central Park, largely during scarcely occupied hours.

 

BVan Nieuwenhoven's picture
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They ARE different from us.

They ARE different from us. Here's why:

The densest areas of the city for road traffic and pedestrian traffic are also the densest areas for messenger services and food deliveries. 

The vast majority of people riding bikes in central business districts are making deliveries. Even though bike commuters and recreational riders are increasing in numbers, they've still got us on road miles traveled in the places where more people will come into contact with them. They work entire shifts going back and forth among their dispatching office, pickups, and deliveries - all in the same neighborhoods. Meanwhile, we don't do our training laps around Rockefeller Center or Union Square.

I see far more delivery riders in Manhattan (than bicycle commuters), they're out more frequently, and I'm squeezed closer to them. The places we ride don't have the pedestrian density of Midtown Manhattan. Almost the complete opposite. Thus, most pedestrians only see one side of the story.

Also: we're focused on safety. They are working against the clock, and some of them take risks to cut time - not all of them, but enough of them to make it a problem.

Most people, including me, get much stronger impressions from the "risky" guys than the ones who ride by legally without incident. Such as it is whenever I use First or Second Avenues in Manhattan, where I absolutely percieve (true or not) that wrong-way food delivery guys outnumber all other cyclists 3:1.

This is why so many people are unreasonably afraid of getting mowed down by a cyclist and think we're ALL maniac road-users. Our success in riding safely, plus our travelling habits, mean that we have very little impact on the minds of most people. That's good! But on the other end of the spectrum, some messengers and food servers pick up tons of negative attention when they take risks that put other people in danger. 

Are some of the cyclists-at-work part of the "good cyclist" group? Of course. And do "we" occasionally take law-flouting shortcuts? Well... don't tell anyone, but some people in a certain New York cycling club I know might go half a block wrong-way down a side street to get to a building that would be six blocks away otherwise. And... keep this a secret... some of those riders have been spotted slowing down at a red light, looking all ways for a clear path, and then "going through" without waiting for green. It's horrible, really.

But there's a lot more of their road-miles in the "bad cyclist" group than our road-miles. And their road-miles are set among a much bigger group of observers than our road-miles. (Did I mention their accident rate is certainly much higher than the accident rate of all the other cyclists? We're still the safest large city in America when it comes to this stuff, but still...)

So, yes, the collective of messengers and delivery riders cause issues that are, in scope, unique to their group. Those issues increase safety risks and cause accidents for other road users - more than the overall frequent cyclist population. And those accidents gather more attention than anyone's good riding habits.

I'm gonna single them out until I no longer see them doing something dangerous at least once every 5 blocks on my daily commute. (15 blocks long)

sgnoka's picture
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You're blending a lot of

You're blending a lot of different things, which make me wonder about the answers to these questions:

Is the reason that people out there want to "kill" cyclists primarily the delivery guys?  Is the Central Park crackdown due to delivery guys?  Does NYPD - which is pretty clearly the driving force behind the crackdown inside and outside the park - particularly concerned with delivery guys, or another groups of cyclists (or perhaps all cyclists)?
And lastly, do you participate in any sort of online or physical community that would inform you of any uptick in tickets to delivery guys?

I'd urge you to think about these things.

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to them it's all cyclists

the dog walkers and smokers and the rest of the rabid anti-cycling crowd point out all sorts of incidents which overwhelmingly, when examined, involve commercial cyclists. I have yet to see any police presence whatsoever ticketing cyclists at West End Ave. and W72nd St. yet I see, daily, commercial cyclists making a left on red against traffic and then onto the sidewalk for a few blocks at a fair speed etc. all while not wearing a helmet or identifying vest (but obviously delivering food for someone). I did see one incident of a Dominos pizza delivery guy doing similar things but most of them obey the rules and all have a helmet (whether fastened or not) and uniform.  The residents of Manhattan, esp. UWS and UES, recount incidents of cyclists injuring pedestrians without recalling that the pedestrian was jaywalking at the time. In rare cases, we have had one incident years ago I vaguely recall of a delivery cyclists riding on the sidewalk coliding with an elderly man and fatally knocking him down. The residents then clamor for something to be done about cyclists. The police find the cyclists in Central Park make excellent prey: we were plentiful and easy to hunt, no need to spread patrols all over Manhattan North to find some when you can just park on the Park Drive and in 5 minutes along will come a group ostensibly breaking the law whether speeding at over 15 mph or running red lights because the Drive is closed to automobile traffic. By comparison, an officer spending an hour at W72nd and WEA might get one or two scofflaws.

 

BTW, NYPD periodically parks a marked car on W72nd to watch for automobile violations. They ignore delivery cyclists breaking the law in front of their eyes. I have seen it many times.

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A couple of direct and

A couple of direct and indirect answers to this, or at least food for thought:

The most pedestrian DANGER comes from cyclists from cheap delivery outfits who don't follow the rules or who hire ridiculously reckless cyclists.

The number of road VIOLATIONS are not spread evenly either, but technically "we" are much less-than-perfect along with anyone else on a bike. (or in a car or walking down the street) But it's more a matter of failing to fully adhere to the traffic code than putting anyone in DANGER. Our light-running compares to jay-walking, not wrong-way avenue-riding.

The NYPD really has greater things to worry about either way. But occasionally patrolmen get put on details that involve enforcing mamby-pamby violations in the park. No one's yet been stopped by a homicide detective or a captain.

The stuff in the park is not related to commercial cyclists. It's related to pedestrian injuries and complaints inside the park - and city-wide politics. 

Recreational and competitive cyclists have surely been in incidents in Central Park where they have failed to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. Yet the problem didn't suddenly become more intense, nor did the police suddenly have extra resources lying around. They're doing it because the powers-that-be are tired of hearing about it (including the many incidents where pedestrians complained after failing to properly yield to cyclists, not the other way around), and because the (bike-loving) transportation commissioner blamed the police commissioner for the (deeply-unpopular) citywide response to the big blizzard that left thousands of people stranded. They're doing it because the media is obsessed with the story and it makes it look like they're doing SOMETHING to stop people from getting run over. (even if it's pretty much the least-effective way to reduce DANGER) No one is reporting on other crackdowns; no one from the NYPost was on-scene last year when tickets were being handed out for double-file riding in Fort Lee.

Is there any way to communicate with the commercial cyclists from cheap restaurants and messenger outfits? Well, all of these jobs are off-the-books, have zero experience or school requirements, don't pay benefits, and sometimes don't meet minimum wage requirements. It's not an organized, well-educated, society-embracing workforce to say the least. And I don't think their employers want to even acknowledge they exist - not to people who keep records of anything, anyway. 

Not all the restaurants are this bad, of course, but the places who are making any attempt to keep their commercial cyclists legitimate are not the ones who are causing the problems. Yes, I've seen delivery riders with the helmets and vests as required. (yes, the city/state has different rules for commercial cyclists than for everyone else already) I bet it doesn't sit well with their bosses if they get into accidents or cause a lot of reported close-calls with the neighbors - so I bet they do something about it when it happens.

I've recently started to think about what it would mean if only COMMERCIAL cyclists were required to take road tests, carry licenses and ride registered bicycles while working. It couldn't hurt if these guys had to sit through a road-rules class and pass an exam to get their wheels. It could also implement a system that prevents frequent violators from continuing to work on bicycles; it could go beyond personal citations that (currently) don't restrict their road privileges, their bosses won't reimburse and that they just skip paying anyway. I could see this causing a political uproar despite the big public safety benefits (stomping on civil rights, unfair to immigrants, hostile to small businesses, etc.), but I'm thinking that most arguments against it are bunk and it could be reasonably implemented. It would also shut up most of the people who say we ALL need licenses, even kids on tricycles.

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_it's a process...
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You wrote a lot, but I'm very

You wrote a lot, but I'm very curious about what appears to be a foundation to your arguments:

"The most pedestrian DANGER comes from cyclists from cheap delivery outfits who don't follow the rules or who hire ridiculously reckless cyclists."

Is there some evidence to back this up?

And while we're at it, I'm curious about evidence of what someone else wrote:

"the dog walkers and smokers and the rest of the rabid anti-cycling crowd point out all sorts of incidents which overwhelmingly, when examined, involve commercial cyclists"

=============

 

And this is noteworthy:

"The places we ride don't have the pedestrian density of Midtown Manhattan. Almost the complete opposite. Thus, most pedestrians only see one side of the story......Also: we're focused on safety. They are working against the clock, and some of them take risks to cut time - not all of them, but enough of them to make it a problem."

Us. Them. Us. Them.  Us. Them.  So different.

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Sure.
It's all about the specific rules that the different cyclists break to suit their own purposes. For commuting and rec. cyclists, that's mostly the stop/go routine at lights and right-on-red sneaking. For commercial cyclists, it includes (anecdotally) lots of wrong-way riding and sidewalk barreling as well as more aggressive red-light beating. If you don't believe me, do your own observational survey or ask around. In any case, those additional violations are more of a safety risk than the others because of the greater risk of a serious collision. It's just common sense.

If it sounds like "us/them" it's because the scofflaws for each group are each best handled with an approach that suits their particular circumstances. The worst commuters and recreational cyclist scofflaws are probably doing some pretty dangerous stuff but there are fewer of them and they are harder to find - while delivery scofflaws could be approached with a public information campaign, checkpoints on the avenues, and a crackdown on the business owners as outlined by existing city codes. It may not even rely so much on citations as it would on supervisory presence, which would persuade commercial cyclists to be on their best behavior in a situation where they (not commuters or athletes) would have the most exposure to police and the most to lose. I think that would most benefit public safety.

So far, the only enforcement action has been targeted at recreational cyclists who are flouting the law but doing it in a way that hardly affects pedestrians. In the meantime, the police are ignoring violations that bring greater dangers. 6am red lights in Central Park are less of a menace than sidewalk riders on Sixth Avenue during evening hours.

Do you have any reason to believe the opposite is true... That commercial cyclist bad behavior is, in sum, lesser than the bad behavior of commuters and recreational riders? Please explain.
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   "That commercial cyclist

 

 
"That commercial cyclist bad behavior is, in sum, lesser than the bad behavior of commuters and recreational riders? Please explain."
 
I didn't say that. In terms of facts (who causes the most incidents - that is numbers of incidents - or or who is most disliked) I don't actually know. I won't say that one is worse than the othre because I am aware of my ignorance.
 
CLam's picture
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US, Us, us, us and THEM, Them, them, them

Some people are willing to flout the law FOR safety, some people will flout the law for personal convenience without regard or consideration for others. A person can be either in any given moment.

Balancing different values–
Different behaviors annoy, bother, enrage different people. Some people value order, not everybody values safety. Drivers have their cage and air bags so their main concern is other vehicles. What percentage of the 200 pedestrians fatalities /yr are result of pedestrian inattentiveness? What is an acceptable number of accidents in this city? If you are in the camp of “One injury is too many”? Then let’s ban cars from Manhattan.

http://www.streetsblog.org/2011/02/07/269-people-killed-in-nyc-traffic-c...
It looks like the 59th street (Queensboro/Ed Koch) bridge is a bad place to be.

Not all bikers value safety to the same degree. If you’ve ridden regularly for 5 or more years, then you’ve done some form for this–
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dv-ISen-UTQ&NR=1
(okay, maybe not @5m30sec)

I’m guessing the recent CP crackdown has something to do with this type of riding (in CP when its crowded). BTW, There was a scooter cop in CP cruising around at 3/4 PM today, but not ticketing anybody.

The financial incentive (and adrenaline rush) to the messengers is the same motivation for food delivery guys. If you hate food guys’ running lights, are you willing to wait at all lights yourself? WE would conceivably give up salmoning as a group behavior because WE travel from point A to point B, period. I’m guessing it would add 3 to 5 minutes to EACH delivery if food guys had to circle an extra 1 to 3 blocks. Are you willing to pay MORE for cold pizza, if you’re the second stop?

My point is–

What do WE (whoever you want to include) value as a group? Remember a lot of US drive, run, walk, and have dogs, kids. What are you willing to change, now that bikes are no longer off the radar. Finger pointing usually confuses the issues and doesn’t get you closer to what you value.

–CL –
I think “cops on bikes” is needed in CP weekends. Education and information for restaurant owners is another good idea. Cars and trucks are still the biggest threat to safety.

------------

Us and them
And after all we're only ordinary men
Me, and you
God only knows it's not what we would choose to do
Forward he cried from the rear
And the front rank died
and the General sat, and the lines on the map
Moved from side to side

Black and blue
And who knows which is which and who is who
Up and Down
And in the end it's only round and round and round
Haven't you heard it's a battle of words
The poster bearer cried
Listen son, said the man with the gun
There's room for you inside

Down and Out
It can't be helped but there's a lot of it about
With, without
And who'll deny it's what the fighting's all about
Out of the way, it's a busy day
I've got things on my mind
For want of the price of tea and a slice
The old man died

–PF

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJJJ7ec1eAo

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This is so terrible and I

This is so terrible and I hate that it happens more often than the news would like to mention.  We do need to be careful.  What's strange is that he would just target you for no reason.  How do you describe it?  "a brief verbal exchange".  Clearly, this is not provocative.  Clearly, you said nothing to set him off.  I wonder why he would chase you down and act like this???   

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You ask, I answer: police love power & authority

The following is from: http://newyorkbike.com/

Have you ever known the response of police to outside criticism, even constructive criticism, to be anything other than punitive? I haven't. Several years ago I was riding in the park in the evening when cars were not permitted in the park. Out of the semi-darkness came a car at speed and headed in the wrong direction, i.e. towards me. It was a police car. No lights. No siren. As it sped past me, I yelled, "Lights!" 

Was the officer who was driving intent on apprehending some malefactor? If so, busy though he was, he, nevertheless, found he could take out time from his hot pursuit to harrass me. A few moments later I heard a car behind me. I cut into the bike lane (where bikes are not supposed to be when cars are not permitted in the park). It comes upon me, buzzes me as it passes within inches of me. It is the same cop car. Whee! Police having fun!

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It's not against the law to

It's not against the law to curse out a police officer.  Or anyone. I'm not saying that that's what she did, but even if she did, it's not illegal.

 

 

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FYI:http://www.patspapers.com

FYI:

http://www.patspapers.com/story_stack/item/pittsburgh_police_taser_pirates_fan_video/

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=93e_1217420304

http://gothamist.com/2008/07/28/cop_caught_on_video_assaulting_cycl.php

In theory, you really need to do a LOT to a cop to get a harsh response, legally. They are trained to defuse situations, not escalate them. And they do have better things to do than to beat up cyclists and drunks and clog up the courts with them.

But in practice, you sometimes need to do nothing at all. They'll just come and kick your ass because they feel like it. From that moment on, the burden is on you to prove they have clearly broken the law. If it's just your word against theirs (and often there are two or more officers on scene and filing affadavits afterward to cover everyone's backs), and there are no external witnesses or survelliance recordings, there's almost no way to demonstrate excessive use of force or false arrest. You have to remember, these cops who like to beat up people are REALLY GOOD at creating a paper trail that gives them probable cause and justified use of force in almost any situation. (even if they perjure themselves in the process; they're really good at getting away with that, too)

Most cops aren't like this, but it'll be your bad day if you run into any of these special few.

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I never thought delivery

I never thought delivery cyclists were such a problem, at least in my neighborhood, (Park Slope), till I got a dog. Now I walk around a lot more. I'm always jumping out of their way and worried they'll run into my dog.

I'd like to see delivery bikes banned. It would be safer for everyone and we wouldn't be getting blamed for the delivery guys transgressions.

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