By Lauren Evans in News on Aug 20, 2013 4:22 PM
Thanks to the arrival of Citi Bike, there’s been an appreciable increase in cops ticketing cyclists. What cops are still figuring out, apparently, is how to get the cyclists stop without knocking them off their bicycles into traffic!
25-year-old Emily Dalton alleges an officer did just that as she was pedaling her bike to work the morning of July 11. Dalton was riding along 8th Avenue in Chelsea when she glided through a light—she’s uncertain whether it was red or green. But according to at least one nearby officer, it was red—and she’d just ridden through it. His method of detaining her? The officer grabbed her handlebar as she passed, jolting Dalton from her bike and sending her sailing into the road.
Dalton, stunned and bloodied—though not seriously harmed—said she spent several minutes shouting at the officer, unable to understand why someone whose job it is to keep her safe was the reason she’d nearly been smashed by a car in the middle of 8th Avenue. “I was terrified,” she said. “I was in the middle of a New York street!”
The officer, she said, was unfazed neither by Dalton’s scraped elbows and knees, nor the fact that the severity of the crash managed to bend her bike tire and cause the chain to fall from the drive train. His only concern, Dalton said, was getting her ID, which at the time she didn’t think she had.
Shaken, Dalton retreated to a nearby bench. Another officer on the scene called an ambulance, despite the fact that Dalton said repeatedly that she didn’t need one.
“I kept saying ‘I just want to go, I’m fine, let me go, let me go,'” she said. “I was just so frustrated, and I was scared, and all I wanted to do was get out of there.”
The officer who made the grab continued to ask Dalton for her ID, which she finally found in her bag after emptying its contents on the ground. She ended up with two tickets—one for running a red light, and another for “failure to comply,” a charge which Dalton said was never explained to her.
The ambulance eventually arrived and iced her wounds—luckily, Dalton said, she was wearing a helmet, so her only injuries were scrapes. After more than an hour, Dalton was allowed to go to work. She never got an apology from the officer.
“He told me to follow the road signs, but he never once said he was sorry in any way, shape or form,” she said. “He never asked if I was OK.”
Daniel Flanzig, Dalton’s lawyer, said the problem isn’t just a rogue bad—or possibly just impolite—police officer. The problem is the fact that there’s no established system for pulling over a cyclist, in spite of the increasing need to do so.
“There’s no post-academy training on how to deal with this new culture,” he said. “There are bad cyclists, there are bad cops, and everyone has to learn how to get along.” He said that despite the existence of a voluminous code of conduct for a vehicular traffic stops, there appears to be no established protocol for stopping a cyclist.
“If she ran a red light and he pulled her out of the car, it would be crazy,” he said. “Why, if she was on a bike, would it be any different?”
Like it or not the lawyer for Dalton said something crucial to understanding this problem surrounding cyclists vs. cops. Urban Cyclists are essentially Anarchistic in their world view. One of the cardinal rules they live by is to avoid being identified. This means that licensing and license plates would send them into an apoplectic tizzy. But failing something like it there is going to be a continued problem where one policeman is unable to corral a single cyclist if they do not wish to receive a ticket.
Like their Skinhead counterparts in Idaho (yep the place where their favorite Stop Sign Law originates) they live to avoid being made to conform to anything resembling the kind of world they would have motorists live in. Just the thought of motorists not having to show license plates would mean that going forward no one violating the parking restrictions of a bike lane could be easily found. Right now any self-respecting Urban Cyclists with a SmartPhone can take pictures or capture videos of their evil nemeses in cages breaking the law. This is a condition none of them would ever wish on any other cyclists.
But I think this will have to change sooner than later. As the number of cyclists increases it will be come nearly unmanageable to attempt to deal with hordes of cyclists who are without identification. In fact it will soon become clear to the Tea Party types in the GOP that yet another means of trapping undocumented aliens is to make their vehicle of choice more identifiable. And when that happens bicycle licensing will become the steam roller law that any xenophobe could embrace. And embrace it they will.
Cyclists and their Advocacy Groups are going to have to get out front on this subject because it is not going away. Bike Share is ‘big business‘ for cash strapped municipalities. Those onerous late fees for Divvy are not a mistake. The fact that Oak Park and Evanston are considering this service means that they understand the dollars that such services bring. And there is even a parking lot ordinance in our future. With the number of bikes growing and the propensity of cyclists to do a very unsightly job of locking their bikes, municipalities will move to provide places where you can lock up your bike under the guard of a city worker.
The future will probably look more like that described by John Kass than not.