Strange Days-STOP!

Today was a really strange one.
First I got this tweet from Prolly that some bicycle cops were ticketing people for riding brakeless fixed gears on the Williamsburg Bridge. I really hope this is just some random police fluke and not going to set off a wave of unwanted attention where we have to argue the efficiency and equal stopping power of the bikes we all love to ride.
Picture 2
This could lead to more useless legislation favoring the police to make money on tickets and we the bikers to be stopped and harassed.

According to bike hugger this “to brake or not to have a brake” situation eventually lead to a 2006 law being passed in Portland Oregon mandating that all fixed gear bikes needed to be equipped with hand brakes.

similar ordinances have been enforced in Berlin.

The cops stopping people in NYC, must have a lot to do with the horrible design of the bike path on the Manhattan side of the Williamsburg bridge that dumps you right into the middle of two way speeding traffic. Instead of coming up with a better design, first they tried to put those speed bumps on the bridge which ended up injuring more bikers then controlling our speed. Then we fought and won to have those removed and now its a random sting operations with all kinds of bs stories like clocking our speeds on the bridge and parking police vans in the middle of the downward ramp.

What is a more efficient way to stop? Using your feet on a fixie or having to be stopped by the police to find out how you stop? OH STOP!

Thats right blame the type of bicycles we have. Its like blaming reckless driving on the fact that too many people have cars that can go over 150mph.

Speaking of not stopping and reckless driving…did you catch what happened in the East Village today?

This according to the NY Times.

9 people including an infant were injured by a speeding NYPD patrol car. Read the story here.

Hmmmm, maybe the police should be more concerned with controlling their own vehicles. Just saying.

And also, I got this email from local bicycle activist and advocate, Amanda Hickman.


I got jumped last night, riding on Franklin Ave, just before Willoughby.
There’s a schoolyard there, and always a few burned out streetlights. A
girl ran out into the street and was kind of dodging me and just as I
realized that I was probably in trouble, she called to her friends who
ran from between some parked cars. They tackled me, took my backpack
(from my basket, where I keep it because I carried a messenger bag for
too many years and my back is a mess now) and ran back into the school yard.

The thing I keep coming back to is the folks who came out to help me,
one of whom said several times that it happens “all the time” to
cyclists right there. I like to think of myself as pretty street smart
but I’ve never seen something like this. I’ve had kids try to chase me
on bikes of their own, but this three kid tackle move? WTF? I’m not even
sure what I could have done differently except maybe grab my bag myself
I guess.

I’m fine, I don’t actually own anything of value so most of what they
took they left under some stairs a block away, but I was really struck
by the “all the time” bit. Is this a thing?

These kids knew what they were doing.

I thought you might know. I thought you might be game to ask your
readers if you don’t.


Really sorry to hear that Amanda. Do others know of similar experiences in that area?

So maybe the NYPD, since they are so concerned with our safety, should Stop stopping us on the bridges and get over to these neighborhoods to stop the muggers from stopping the bikers.

7 comments to Strange Days-STOP!

  • jakerock

    What I have heard about that area is that it is right on the border between police precinct jurisdictions and nobody wants to deal with it. I have a few friends who live over there and a few that have left because of muggings and so on…

    Its really the only place in NYC that I have heard anybody talk about getting robbed or jumped regularly since Guliani’s reign. Its a mess over there. Be careful.
    BedStuy y’all!

  • jdogg

    Unfortunately the ‘useless’ legislation is already on the books.
    Section 1236 of the NY Vehicle and Traffic law requires a brake on the bike.

    They are probably enforcing the law as already written.

    Bridges and tunnels are favorites for the cops – there is strong enforcement at each tolled crossing – almost a cop per toll booth issuing tickets for expired inspections, window tint and loud exhausts.

    A traffic ticket is a traffic ticket to the cops, and on a bike, you are easier to target than a car driver. It is all about the Benjamins to the city government right now.

  • nerdifer

    I was riding down Willoughby around the same area last week. As I was waiting at the light a little kid from the sidewalk said “Don’t (something unintelligible ), miss” and then threw a rock at me. Luckily he missed and just hit my front wheel. The oddest part was that he called me miss.

  • Blem

    This weekend a few friends and I were egged and had rocks thrown at us on Willoughby while riding. The kids must have been no older than 10. What I found interesting was that they were screaming at us to get out of their neighborhood (which has been my neighborhood for almost as long as they’ve been alive). Never before, in my 8 years of living in Bed-Stuy, have I had this happen to me. Although that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened to someone else.

  • I had a similar experience at Franklin and Dekalb, one block south. A young kid ran out from the bus stop at the corner and punched me in the face/neck while his friends looked on. It didn’t stop me from riding forward or really hurt me (he seemed about 12, with a small fist; it wasn’t a hard punch), so we kinda just exchanged insults as I kept going. But it makes you realize weird stuff can happen.

    I wanted to remind folks that there’s a program called SafeWalk that offers people an escort when they’re traveling alone every Friday night from 11 pm to 2 am. It’s usually meant for people walking, but since we’re on bikes we could ride with you anywhere in the service area (including this spot). You can reach the service at 866.977.9255 during its hours of operation.

  • Amanda

    I somehow missed that Mike actually did blog my story (I’m still fuming over a 2006 ticket for riding my bike in a cross walk under a sign that clearly stated that bicycles should “Use pedestrian signal and crosswalk.” I knew if I read anything about cops ticketing cyclists I’d just get all roiled.)

    Mike actually emailed to ask if I have suggestions (and to make sure I’m okay, which I basically am. Tho I haven’t replaced my phone yet. Anyone got an old AT&T / Cingular phone lying around?)

    I have a lot of suggestions. Ride swinging a lead pipe in front of you at all times. No … that is a terrible idea. I wish I had suggestions that could change the character of the city so that there aren’t kids out looking to mug anyone on a lovely summer night.

    The only real suggestion I’ve got is to be aware that this is not unthinkable. And then all the standard muggery advice. Yell, scream, act unpredictable. Unless they’re armed in which case I have no advice beyond “obey.” Trust your instincts and if you’re creeped out don’t be ashamed to yell for help. As loud as you possibly can.

    That, and don’t think that writing phone numbers in a phone book in your bag is a good backup for the numbers on the sim card of the phone in the same bag. It isn’t. The one thing they kept for no apparent reason was my little moleskine phone book. (it still kind of creeps me out that they kept that.)

    And don’t put your bag in a rear basket totally unsecured. It was loose. No bungee, nothing. Just sitting there waiting to be lifted out.

    I’ve had a couple of near mugging episodes in the last few years recently. Got chased by a kid (12? 13?) on a bike. Rode as fast as I fucking could. Squealed to a stop in front of some people who were about to cross the street and stammered something like “Please wait with me. Please.” The kid disappeared. Got surrounded by some kids (same age) on a dark corner one night. I think they asked for the time, but I realized instantly that they’d circled me completely. I threw a tantrum. Something along the lines of “oh no fucking way i’m sorry but I do not have time to fucking get mugged tonight. fuck this shit but no. No, no no.” I had this archival art box with me, one of those giant cardboard boxes that secretly costs $80 or something. And it was snowing. They walked off. My husband and I got chased on foot by some older kids once. Started screaming for help at the top of our lungs and they kind of peeled off. Actually not one person on that residential block came to their windows or anything but that is another story.

    I guess the moral of all these stories is: yell, yes. Holler, yes. But don’t get lulled into any false sense of security that you’ve seen all the ways a person could get mugged in this town.

    I saw what was coming too late to do anything about it. I was lost in thought. That stretch of Franklin is quiet, there aren’t a lot of cars. I was thinking about how I had totally underestimated how amazing it would be to see so many people sitting around in midtown after dark (I was on my way home from getting a drink in Hells Kitchen.) I was thinking about what I needed to do at work tomorrow. I was thinking of anything but my immediate surroundings.

    And I guess the other part of my suggestion, is for gods sake talk to your neighbors. Unless you live in Westchester or something. I know these kids thought I was some fucking white girl moving in on their neighborhood and they were doing their civic duty to protect their turf. And if you’re too good to engage in a conversation with the guy on the next stoop, his kids or nephews or whatever are going to think the same thing. They’re going to think “fuck all these white people with their bicycles. I can show them.” New York City is pretty awful about giving kids more rewarding things to do with their time and I kind of bet that mugging me was the most fun these kids had all night.

  • Amanda

    PS. I’m sorry that I cuss like a truck driver. I don’t know where it comes from.

    PPS. I highly recommend taking a ride through Times Square. It is a bummer to lose that nice straight shot downtown, but the number of people sitting out enjoying the air is really a wonderful thing to behold.