Do NYPD officers despise cyclists, or just think they're filthy savages who must be kept in their place to protect civilized society? It's a question we've been wondering a lot since the department's absurd cyclist crackdown began in earnest this Spring, which saw cyclists ticketed for such things as riding with a tote-bag on the handlebars, speeding in an empty Central Park at dawn, and running stop signs at empty intersections. Now, to shed a little light on the NYPD's fetishization of cyclists, one unidentified cop—who also happens to commute by bicycle—speaks.
The interview with "Officer X" appears in the latest issue of Transportation Alternatives' magazine Reclaim. The Q&A kicks off with the magazine asking the cop straight up: Do police officers hate cyclists? The four-year NYPD veteran explains:
No. But a lot of things have changed since the Critical Mass incident in 2007, when that rookie cop pushed a cyclist off his bike in Times Square. Now whenever an officer views a cyclist, he immediately associates them with Critical Mass riders and that incident. Even when I ride my bike to the precinct, I get that: “You riding Critical Mass? You one of them?”
As a cop, you don't want to see another officer go down like that, even if what he did is totally wrong, and that is going to open up your eyes. That young officer tried to do the right thing. Rather, he tried to do what he perceived as the right thing to control a situation. But he was wrong, and he got caught. He could have served time because he perjured himself. It's upsetting: upsetting on the side of cyclists - for me personally - and very much upsetting on the side of police officers. Incidents like this cause a black eye for our department, and we don't need anything else against us.
You can read the whole interview in full here; it's pretty illuminating, and features this silver lining: "In the next two to three weeks [late July/early August] you may see a sudden decline in the amount of summonses issued to everyone: cyclists, motorists, everybody." And that does seem to be what we're seeing! It's our Cyclist Spring! Sidewalk wheelies for everyone!