On Friday, Streetsblog broke a story about a Dutch woman who claims a cop stopped her for biking in a short skirt and threatened to give her a ticket for distracting horny motorists. Since then, the Daily News and other news outlets picked up the story (naturally the News didn't attribute Streetsblog), even getting NYPD spokesperson Paul Browne to comment—"impossible to establish" whether it happened, Browne said. And since Friday there has also been increased speculation that because the woman, Jasmijn Rijcken, is a "guerrilla marketing" wiz for VANMOOF—the bicycle seen in the photo—this is nothing more than a viral marketing hoax.
Commenters on Gothamist and commenters on Streetsblog believe that Rijcken made the whole thing up to get publicity for VANMOOF, and even "Radical Experimental Bike Lane Lobbyist" Aaron Naparstek seems to think it's probably a bogus story. You don't have to be a skeptic to believe she's lying for her bosses' benefit; on Rijcken's own LinkedIn profile she writes, "Today's critical people need to be captivated, entertained and surprised. So that's what we do. We reach your customers where they least expect it and keep the attention. The Heroes observe, stand out, create and aren't afraid of the unknown. We provide marketing in disguise and make YOU the talk of the town." And Twitter user Work Cycles says, "Of course it's just guerilla marketing and not true. Vanmoof is known for just that here in NL, and they're damn good at it." (Here's an example.)
But Rijcken, who was in town for the New Amsterdam Bicycle Show and has since returned home, is standing by her story. She points out that she didn't run to the media after the incident, which happened in the beginning of May, but posted her story on May 23rd to the VANMOOF Facebook page. This was subsequently shared on the New Amsterdam bike show Facebook photo wall last Thursday. We assume this is how it caught Streetsblog's eye, then Gothamist's, then the Daily "we don't attribute any stories to the Internet sources we poach from" News.
Responding to allegations that she was lying to promote the bike company, Rijcken wrote on Twitter, "I wish it was [a guerrilla marketing stunt]. but unfortunately i am not the only one who this has happened to. its very offensive and discriminating." And Streetsblog editor Ben Fried tells us, "Jasmijn's been saying the same thing going all the way back to May 3rd. The Facebook photo that led the press to pick up on her story didn't appear online until May 23rd. While I wouldn't put it past an ingenious guerrilla marketer to fabricate an event like this, given what we know right now the simplest explanation is that she told the truth."