And I got busted for it. I was out riding home from the West Village on a Friday night and after coming up the bike lane on 8th Ave I shot through the park at Columbus Circle. As I was riding up the east edge of the loop, I see lights and a cop car pulls up next to me, and one of the two officers asks me to "pull over." I was a little surprised when the other cop got out and asked me to dismount my bicycle. The only thing I could possibly think of was that a bike had been stolen matching mine's description. After taking my information, I waited about 10 minutes for them to run my record. I started to wonder if there was more to the story and then a black SUV pulled up and I overheard the driver asking one of the cops for directions and hearing the cops tell the man that the park was closed. The man responded with an apology and drove away. It was then I realized that technically I wasn't supposed to be there. They couldn't be giving me a ticket though, could they? How about a warning? If that was the reason I was "pulled over" I'd be pretty angry.
Well, that was the reason. I was dumbstruck when I was handed a criminal court summons. A summons is an order to appear in court, it's not a fine that I just pay and mail in. Either way this was going to be a substantial inconvenience. One of my personal weaknesses is that my facial expressions are at times pretty transparent to my emotions. Apparently blatantly rolling my eyes didn't make the one officer happy, to which he replied by asking me in an antagonizing manner "What's wrong, you look like you're not happy about this." Oh, that set me off. "Yeah? I look unhappy? I wonder why! Maybe because you just pulled me over and gave me a summons for RIDING MY BIKE IN THE PARK!?" I couldn't help it, I was so livid. We want back and forth for a little bit arguing about if there was a sign and if there was where it was and how I was supposed to see it at night. The cop ended the confrontation by walking back to the car and telling me to leave. What an ass.
Like I said, a summons requires you to attend court regardless of your plea, so of course I pleaded NOT-guilty. After various pro bono consultations with several informed acquaintances, I was prepared to make my case in front of the judge. My first argument was that the part of the law that was cited, item (1) rather than item (3) under part (a) of section 1-03 in Title 56 was not an item with a fine attached. Item (1) says that you may use park from 6am to 1am. Item (3) says you can't use them after the curfew, and that's the item with a fine associated.
My second argument was that I was not put under proper notice that such a law existed because the signs (which I went back and found later) we mere 6" wide dark green non-reflective signs that a pedestrians wouldn't even notice, let alone somebody flying by on a bicycle. Straight up lame.
Let's play "Find the Sign!"
Sitting in court, I had to listen to the 20 or so people before me go up and argue their violations. Most were for open containers or public urination. One was for soliciting ads, one was for going the wrong way down 2nd Ave. When I got up there, I whispered to the public attorney that I was going to plead not-guilty for this curfew violation and when he repeated that to the judge I received a confused look and the question "what were you doing in the park"? After explaining that I was riding home the judge responded by asking "don't you work in the morning, what are you doing out so late?" I replied with, "It was a Friday night, you honor, but even so, what the heck does that matter?" I didn't actually say the second part of that, but I sure thought it. Why are people giving me such a hard time about this?!? It's an embarrassment to our legal system! I then heard, to my surprise, the judge chuckle and say "get our of here kid, you're dismissed." I looked at the public attorney with a confused look to which he responded "That's a good thing, you're dismissed. You can leave." I didn't even get to use my arguments. Oh well.
The story would have been better if I had gotten a BUI...
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