Yesterday, a Dutch tourist alleged that a cop threatened to ticket her for cycling while wearing a skirt in SoHo last spring. Jasmijn Rijcken says the officer told her that her skirt was dangerous because she could distract drivers and potentially cause them to crash—the whole thing sounded like a Jackie Chiles lawsuit in the making. Today, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne commented on the story...rather unsatisfactorily: "Whether this story bears even a modest semblance of what actually occurred is impossible to establish without being provided the purported officer's name and getting his side of the story."
Maybe we're reading too much between the lines, but that sure sounds like he's saying, "Totally could have happened, knowing these chuckleheads!" Rjicken, the general manager of the VANMOOF bicycle company in Amsterdam, was in town for the New Amsterdam Bike Show when the cop allegedly scolded her for cycling while sexy. She retold the story to the News, noting how she thought he was joking until he asked to see her ID. "I didn't even think for one second that my outfit could be harmful or disturbing," she said.
As we noted yesterday, it is decidedly not illegal to wear a skirt while cycling. You won't even find that "violation" under the NYPD's questionable "cheat sheet" for cyclist rules, which is part of their massive cyclist crackdown.
Commenter Jim Dyer on Streestblog points out this NY Times article from 1899 about a Chicago policeman who thought the use of bicycles by women degraded them morally: "A large number of our female bicyclists wear shorter dresses than the laws of morality and decency permit, thereby inviting the improper conversations and remarks of the depraved and immoral." Suddenly, it all makes sense: obviously a time-travelling bluecoat from 1899 landed in lower Manhattan that day, and upon seeing Rjicken, was terrified for her well being, lest some coarse and undignified peasants started hollaring at her.