Unjust ticketing of bikers

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Anonymous's picture

"A month ago, on a Friday night, I was in Central Park by the Delacorte Theater. I had just come from the Great Lawn Oval where I had been taking night photographs of the park and the view of midtown from the Great Lawn. I was walking due west, still east of the Park Drive and by the Delacorte Theater, and when I got just about to the roadway (10-15 feet) I mounted my bike and got ready to ride down (south) the park drive and go home. Just then, an NYPD van with 5 cops in it pulls up. The first thing I thought of was, ""They're looking for someone and they want to ask me if I've seen anything."" No. Not a chance. One of them comes out of the van and says, ""Do you know you're not supposed to be riding on the sidewalk?""

He asked me for an ID. I was so flustered and confused that I honestly couldn't remember if I had my driver's license in my backpack. So he threatened to handcuff me, confiscate my bike, and take me back to the station if I did not have an ID. He shined his flashlight into my bag and thank goodness I had my license.

Long story short, he kept me waiting for a good 15-20 minutes in the cold (it was below 30 degrees) while he sat in his warm van with the other 4 cops, writing a summons to appear in court for ""RIDING BICYCLE ON SIDEWALK"".

I did NOT ride any bike on ANY sidewalk. I was on the walkway, I admit, but I was literally 10 feet from the road and getting ready to leave. I had just packed up my camera and tripod from taking some night shots of the moon, the Great Lawn, and the midtown skyline.

The park was practically deserted except for a couple of joggers and a handful of dog-walkers (none of whose dogs had leashes, not that any of the 5 cops noticed) -- yet I was being threatened with being handcuffed like a common criminal for straddling my bike literally 10 feet from the curb after having walked with it for a full half-mile around the Great Lawn! How did I get into this mess! What did I do wrong! And what are my chances, if any, of fighting this? Has anyone else had a similar experience?

Meanwhile, after my run this morning, I was walking back home on the bridle path.... There were a lot of people jogging, and a couple biking on the path. A gigantic NYPD SUV drove right by the couple and pretended not to see them. WHAT???? I get ticketed for NOTHING, and these two people, in broad daylight, on a crowded path where it's all the more hazardous to the other park users, are ignored?????? Needless to say, I'm furious and have lost so much faith in our ""friends"" at the NYPD."

Anonymous's picture
Carol (not verified)

Go to court and fight it. There are several previous threads on this kind of thing, so do a search of the message board to get more info on how to fight it.

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
Drivers ticketed in Central Park? Not that I've ever seen.

"A former club member (now living in NM) was ticketed for riding across a sidewalk on a wintry, frigid, very early January morning a couple years ago. There wasn't another person in sight of him across the entire expanse of the upper field other than the police. Not anothe peerson. He was middle-aged, dressed befitting a businessman, and biking to drawing class at the Cooper-Hewitt with his drawing supplies. When he asked the cop how else could be bike from the west side of the park to the east, the constable told him to bike up to 110th or down to 59th Street.

Then there's the story of Ed R., known to the police for his activism. He was issued five tickets at the same time for varous infractions based on what the cop alleged he saw the cyclist do the previous day or some days previous. As it happens, Ed was able to prove he wasn't even in the city, much less the park on that day.

I've written this before here, but it's a fave, so I repeat it. Driver is in park when park is closed to cars. Driver exits at 90th and Fifth. Driver waits at a red light before doing so. Driver waits right next to a cop on a scooter. I ask the cop, ""Why didn't you ticket him. The park is closed to cars."" Cop's breathtaking reply, ""Ah, he knew what he was doing was wrong.""

So there you have it: if any of you are ever apprehended in the course of knocking over a bank, or committing a murder, just explain to the cop you know what you're doing is wrong. He'll let you go.

As for the police ticketing cyclists in the park and not drivers, the thing to keep in mind is: catching cyclists is easy. It's more difficult to go after a car and who knows what might be in one.

The police claim they keep no records of this. They seem to have records of citations given for all manner of things, but, oddly enough, or so they claim, they just don't have the break out tickets issued by the Central Park unit. Yeah, right.

Question: Have you, have ANY of you, ever ONCE seen a driver ticketed for being in Central Park when it is closed to cars or for speeding? I haven't.


Anonymous's picture
Tony Mantione (not verified)
Cars in the park

"I often wonder what can a poor soul do??? we just gonna hafta get outta the way.... It happens ALL the time in Prospect Park. All a motorist need to do is turn on the flashers and bada-bing,,, free access to the park drives. And oh ,yes they wave @ the police parked along the sides, and the police wave back.In addition if cyclist are in the ""driving"" lanes they start to honk and yell for we should get out of the way because we are inpeading their progress.!! And I was ticketed for clibing the curb cut and dismounting to walk my bike. The officer all the way on the other side not having a clear view due to the parked cars in front of me ,insisted I was riding on the sidewalk. it's worth a trip to the court to plea my case ....That officer must have had a slow day . 12;15 am, the coldest day of the year, wind houling 25-35 MPH ,frezeeing cold , not a soul on the sidewalks ..But @ least he froze his hands writing the ticket ...Ciao"

Anonymous's picture
Steve Baron (not verified)

Been there, done that. Was told by the officer I wouldn't be fined. Women with baby buggies complain, he said. (Down with buggies.) In fact, I had to make a court appearance where all the lawyers were seen all morning being moved to the front of the line. So what is four hours for a good cause?

The fine was only $75, plus $50 supplement. First Offense. BUT the gentleman in front of me, also on social security, claimed poverty and was a writer, and paved the way for my freedom.

How many bikes did I count riding over the next week? Many. The precinct and I had some discussions about the danger of riding on the transverse roads, with pot holes and high-speed traffic and riding against traffic on 72nd Street.

My advice: move to New Mexico.


Anonymous's picture
lenna (not verified)
sidewalk riding ticket

I also received a ticket for riding on the sidewalk in December. (wasn't really riding, just pulled up on sidewalk to park at meter-but not important). I sent in my summons w/ a not guilty plea. And one month later, got a note that it was dismissed. Always fight, don't ever give in.

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