So I got a little lazy this morning and didn't take my bike for a ride as I usually do. Around 4 pm I look out my window and the day was so beautiful that I decided to ride to Orchard Beach (I live in the South Bronx). I come out of my building and get on my bike. My building has an entrance that connects to the sidewalk in front of it, so I ride about 40 meters from the lobby door to the ramp on the corner (my speed was probably less than 3 m/h), and when I'm about to the get off the sidewalk this cop pulls up right next to the sidewalk ramp, he's driving a scooter. He's making a signal with his hand, and I'm thinking that he's giving me the right-of-way. I got off the sidewalk and ride next pass the scooter very slowly, making eye contact with him (you never want an NYC cop to think that we're fleeing, specially if you're a minority, and you have dreadlocks, and you don't want to get beaten up), and just when I'm about to ride across the streets he tells me "Can I have your ID please?".
At that point I wasn't even realizing why he stopped me, since I'm just coming out of my building, riding slower than a turtle and ready to get on the street. Then he proceeds to tell me that what I was doing was illegal, and asked me the typical w-t-f-do-you-care questions like "where do you work", "do you live around here' blah blah blah.
Apparently this guy (who was black, I'm Hispanic) thought I was a crackhead with dreadlocks riding a bike, but then when I looked at him in the eye, and spoke in clear English, and told him that I work in the technology field he immediately changed his demeanor. All of a sudden he was polite, all nice, and gave me the typical "I wouldn't had stopped you if I knew you were a nice guy" speech. Thanking me for the fact that I'm the only cyclist in the area whom wears a helmet, to which I replied that I'm probably the only person around here that does a lot of things, and that's why I'm moving to Queens. Then he tells that he "has" to give me the ticket, especially because this happened in the projects and NYC Housing Authority really cares about this stuff (Of course they often ignore failing elevators) and and even calling me by my first name. He was almost apologizing to me, "you know, I didn't put you in the system, and you can actually get this ticket cleared if you just tell them that you're a hard-working guy and blah blah blah".
I don't know how true that is. I'm pleading not-guilty and we'll see what happens.
I'm not one of those cyclists that rides on the sidewalk all the time. I prefer the streets. I ride in almost all the major streets in the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens and I don't have a problem with this, and maybe that's why this really made me angry. It's just one of those things, you know, this city doesn't give a f*** about cyclists, and I'll still take the sidewalk on some dangerous places like sections of Queens Boulevard ( A.K.A. The Boulevard of Death). Ironically, this wasn't even one of those situations.
I wanted to tell this guy so many things like where yellow cabs force you out of the lane on purpose, or when people block bike lanes, or why do we allow our maniac cab drivers to always be on the phone, but I just chose to give him short answers.
Anyway, the only thing left for me is hope that someday, somehow, things do get better for us in this city.