September/October 1998, p.5

Bike Helmet Harassment

Early August featured a police crackdown on adult cyclists not wearing helmets in Midtown and in Jamaica's 103rd Precinct. Since only kids 13 and under are required to wear helmets, the police were ticketing cyclists for obeying the law. This new low in police harassment of cyclists was triggered, at least in Midtown, by Chief of Police Louis Anemone, who detonated after seeing cyclists riding outside of the (substandard and often blocked) Sixth Avenue bike lane. Outraged by this anarchical behavior, he ordered cops in Midtown to spend the rest of their work day ticketing cyclists for anything they could think of.

Meanwhile, off in the 103rd, the spree was the brainstorm of a traffic safety officer who was sure that the helmet law covered all cyclists. The misguided officer responded to T.A.'s offer to fax him the relevant Vehicle and Traffic Law by saying that he was sure the police legal division would back him up.

It seems that ignorance is bliss to quota-filling cops. But the tens or hundreds of cyclists in Manhattan and Queens who must now go to court to nullify the tickets represent time wasted and a reminder that cyclists continue to be viewed as a lower class of citizen by the top cop and his less-informed minions.