Police car speeding in Central Park

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Anonymous's picture

Many would like to see Central Park made traffic free - myself included. But if it has to be open to traffic, at least the speed restrictions could be enforced.

But what hope is there of this happening when, on a quiet, cold Saturday afternoon, one is overtaken by a police car in the park, not sounding its siren and not flashing its strobes, at around 43mph, thus ruining the tranquility of my ride. The speed limit to vehicular traffic is 35mph. I saw only three other cyclists on the circuit, only one of whom was doing some serious riding. I don't think I've ever seen so few cyclists on a Saturday. And I didn't see any roller bladers and not too many joggers.

The offending police car kicked up a nice cloud of dust of salt as the road had been heavily salted because of Friday's snow and ice, which I could not avoid breathing in and could taste. I had to rinse with quite a lot of water to get rid of the taste and stop me from feeling nausius - difficult when the top of the bottle was all iced up.

Why should these morons with nothing better to do drive around the park wrecklessly? Is it just because they have the protection of a uniform and are armed? And if they were trying to get to the scene of a crime, why weren't these officers using their sirens and strobes?

Because the park had so few cyclists and no roller bladers, pedestrians were wondering all over the road, paying even less attention than normal. I actually found them more of a hazard than I do when the weather is warmer and there are more people about on foot and on bikes and blades.

And how do I know the police car was doing 43mph? Because he was close enough for me to see its speed ometer and the officer driving didn't give me too much time to get out of the way, or even sound his horn or anything to alert me to his presence, just the sound of his tyres and engine, which came up from behind rather too quickly.

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
Watch your back

On Sunday afternoon, I was in the running lane near the Tavern on the Green. I noticed a fellow in an electric wheelchair heading down that slight grade there in the right lane, just enjoying the out-of-doors. A cop car came speeding up from behind (probably over 30 mph), and as the fellow's head was below the cop's sight line, I was praying that he would slow down. He did, barely. But why on earth was he driving so fast to begin with? What a nice cover that would have made on the New York Post.

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
Contact information

The ever-helpful e-bikes supplies the following information (from several people):


NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board

Community Board 7/ Manhattan http://www.cb7.org/

Community Board 8/ Manhattan 212-427-4840

Central Park Precinct
86th Street and Transverse Road 570-4820


DOT , Iris Weinshall, Commissioner, and Parks, 1-800-201-parks
Weinshall's number is 212-676-0868
Contact the precinct captain at the Central Park Police Precinct, though that may be no good.


If you're complaining about police vehicles being driven recklessly, then you should contact the commanding officer of the precinct or police unit in question. Did you get any numbers off the police car, or at least date / time / location? You'll need some or all of that to file a specific complaint.

If the vehicles in question were from the Central Park precinct, you can call up the precinct and ask to speak to the commanding officer or the integrity control officer about your complaint. They'll try to fob you off on someone else, but don't settle for anyone less than the CO, ICO, or XO (executive officer). One of them is usually around during business hours.

Another way to address problems that originate in the Central Park Precinct is to attend the monthly Precinct Community Council meetings. Call the precinct to find out when these arrive. That way, you can raise your concern at a public meeting, with the commanding officer listening, in front of a group of volunteers who regularly monitor the precinct's performance.

As for other organizations, my experience has been that for low-level misconduct like this without a bruised and bleeding victim, the CCRB is useless. You can try them anyway, it won't hurt. Getting the press interested is always an option - IIRC the Daily News once brought their radar gun into Central Park and found that most of the speeders were official vehicles of one stripe or another.

Anonymous's picture
richard rosenthal (not verified)
A long rant about police work in Central Park.

"While you complain about squad cars on the road, one of your club members (not me), in his 60s and not at all a heavy duty, crank stomping cyclist, was ticketed by a police officer in a squad car for riding in a very gentlemanly fashion on one of the concrete walkways across the middle of the park. At least that squad car was up on the sidewalk and not on the road doing more damage than he did. The ticketing officer remonstrated the miscreant rider for presenting a hazard to mothers with baby carriages. Oh, did I mention this was on a mid-January day when the temperature was in the mid 20ºs and there wasn't another person in sight?

Here, for me, is the greatest grievence I have against police in cars in the park: quite simply, they don't do their job. Have you, for example, ever ONCE seen a driver ticketed for being in the park when it was closed to vehicles? Have you, for example, ever ONCE seen a driver ticketed for speeding? No? Neither have I...but then I've only been riding in the park 22 years.

On the other hand, the police aren't completely lacking in conscientiousness: I do know of a cyclist (not me) being ticketed for failing to signal his change of lanes in the bike lane when he crossed into the runner's lane to pass someone.

I do know of a cyclist (not me) given five tickets at the same time. (His real violation was that he was a supposed leader of a protest ride in the park.)

I do know of a cyclist (not me) who was given a ticket some weeks AFTER he supposedly committed some violation when the police officer said he recognized him from before. Uh, as it happens the cyclist was provably not in the city when that police officer asserted he saw him break the law in the park. Again, it just so happens this was a park-cyclist activist.

I do know of a cyclist (not me) being ticketed for exceeding the speed limit. Actually, he wasn't merely ticketed; he was hurled to the ground and injured quite badly by the police officer who also saw fit to confiscate his bike and, gosh darn, wouldn't you just know, it turned up missing for quite a number of days. No matter: he was so badly injured from being tossed to the ground, he couldn't ride. This occured at the end of a group ride as it was stopping. It seems the officer was embarrassed when his scooter went over as he was alongside the group and, in his embarrassment, simply hopped up and collared the next rider to come along...whose father, quite coincidentally, owns a NY bike shop.

But lest you get too enraptured at how conscientious Central Park police can be--no, not the ones on foot who are often found in clusters chatting among themselves and coming on to women for twenty minutes at a time [the length of a lap] (well, those on scooters and in cars cluster among themselves and chat for great lengths of time, too: after all, how long can you spend reading the Post?)--here's a story.

I was right behind a car that was in the park when the park was closed to cars. It passed a police officer as he exited the park at 90th St. I came upon the officer a moment later and asked him why he didn't ticket the driver. His response? ""Aw, he knew what he was doing was wrong.""

There you have it. Anytime you think to knock over a bank, perpetrate a fraud, or commit murder, just acknowledge you know what you did was wrong. You're off the hook.

One last rant: As I circle the park, lap after lap after lap, day after day after day (which is not to imply I regularly or often do laps), I don't see a single police officer. Why? Are they all in plainclothes, the better to catch the bad guys? I think not. After all, one of the reasons to police officers wear uniforms is to have them seen so they are a deterrent to the bad guys and a comfort to the good guys. No, they're simply not there.

...Except when you do see one, you're more than likely going to see three, four, or five--if on foot, all grouped together, facing inward so t"

Anonymous's picture
Lukas (not verified)
This is America......

"It is interesting to listen to everyone complaining about the cops ruining the ""tranquility of my ride"".

This is a petty disruption of your life, and might be insulting to some. You're talking about dust - and I think you meant nauseous. What about when police infringe on civil liberties????? Cycling in the park is a luxury. It's not like they detained you, arrested you and took you to the station and changed the course of your life forever.

I am a white/professional and don't have to worry about those things. That's why when a cop rides too close me when I'm on the road (where vehicles operate by the way) I don't think I've been ""wronged"" by the system.

Just keep in mind that cops and cars were here first.....

And as far as compliants go, cops kill people and stick up for each other. Lying about something simple like speeding is as easy as breathing from them.

I can't believe that no one else brought up that point. I guess cycling is a white man's sport."

Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
Why is cycling a white man's sport?

"Why do you assert that cycling is a white man's sport? I've seen plenty of non-white people riding and women too. In any case what is the relevance of such a ridiculous assertion to the argument about certain members of the NYPD who seem to be happy to take the law into their own hands and drive around the park in a cavalier fashion?

I apologise for mis-spelling nauseous. Thankfully, it is a condition from which I rarely suffer and a word I seldom use in writing, which is why I did not know how to spell it. How clumsy of me not to consult my Oxford English Dictionary!

Whether the police drive wrecklessly in the park or on the street, there is still no excuse for it. I agree that the incident I reported was a minor misdemeanour compared with officers covering up unlawful killings by their professional colleagues. And it was a minor event compared with allegations of officers using violence on cyclists in the park. But you should remember that the whole idea of the park's original planners was to allow city dwellers the opportunity of escaping the rigours and dangers of heavy traffic on the streets, so to have a police car driving by unnecessarily spoils what the park was intended for.

You are simply plain wrong to suggest that cops and cars ""were here first"". I'm not sure when the bicycle was first introduced to the US, but in Britain it was around long before cars and modern, organized, professional police forces. The first recognised bicycle was an invention attributed to a German inventor, Baron Karl von Drais von Sauerbronn, circa 1816-1817, although it didn't have pedals. In Britain, the modern Metropolitan Police, London's equivalent of the NYPD, was established as a professional force by Sir Robert Peel in 1829, and its officers were known as 'Peelers'. I believe the precursor to the NYPD was the Dutch Burghar Guard, established in the 1650s, so on that basis, yes the police have been around for longer than bikes. However, in its early days, it had just eight unpaid nightwatch patrolmen on the watch for fires and native raids. It was not until 1845, inspired by the 'Peelers' in London, that New York City became the first city in the US to establish a full-time police force of professional offers.

I should point out that I never intended to discredit the NYPD and did not criticize the force as a whole, merely one of its officers. Unfortunately, it is a sad fact of life that probably every force in the world has a rotten element within its ranks and the officers that fall under that category are a disgrace to the uniform they wear. The NYPD and the Metropolitan Police in my native London are no exception."

Anonymous's picture
Lukas (not verified)

"Thanks for the background on the ""peelers"".

Enjoy your tranquility. Hopefully your life will continue to be as trouble-free as it seems now.

Just remember that in your attempt to bring some sense of righteousness to cycling, you need to look over your shoulder and be aware of your surroundings. No matter how much noise we make, cars will always disrespect cyclists. You are correct, bicycles may have been created first, but cars are still bigger....

As far as being a ""white man's sport"", I know cyclists of other ethnicities but I found it odd that in about 10 messages no one pointed out that cops driving recklessly isn't the only injustice they bring to society.

Be cool....."

Anonymous's picture
frank (not verified)

"actually, there are some equally bad/worse things. one morning while the park was still closed to vehicular traffic, a police car made an illegal left turn into the west 90th entrance to the park. how do i know it was illegal? i had the green light and i crashed trying to avoid the police car. even worse than my bike handling skills was the fact that the policemen involved showed only perfunctory interest in my resulting ""road rash."" and, when i called the precinct to suggest that perhaps the officers were at fault, the policeperson who responded could not have been more offensive, suggesting that only i could have been at fault. inspector byrnes redux, no doubt. oh well."

Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
Let's take action

I think I might urge club members who witness such incidents of the police's abuse of priviledge, especially those who have suffered injury as a consequence, to make a written note of the officer/s and car concerned, ask people around to be witnesses and call on the club to make a formal, written complaint to the NYPD with precise evidence.

Anonymous's picture
Shymember OK (not verified)

Anyone ever try drafting behind a blue and white?????

Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
Could be asking for trouble

If you draft behind a police car in the park and keep up with it, you run the risk of being booked for breaking the 15mph speed limit that applies to bikes in the park. A sign of rules and byelaws in the park, close to the 72nd Street entrance on the west side states the speed limit for bikes as 15mph. And personally, I wouldn't trust such a car not to stop suddenly without warning, causing a rear-ending.

Anonymous's picture
Shymember OK (not verified)

Cyclist vs. The City of New York -

- maybe buy a few new bikes after getting out of the hospital. Any one here work for NYCC - NEW YORK CORPORATION COUNSEL :-) ???

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