Unicyclist Suing NYPD for $3 Million (For Sidewalk Ticket)

11/22/2010 11:59 AM |


  • Unicycles into ploughshares.

I’ve been pretty clear about my dislike of unicyclists (look, I know some actual people who unicycle, and they are very nice, but still…). So it was with great some interest that I read of the story of Kyle Peterson, a circus unicyclist who is suing the NYPD for $3 million after he was given a citation for riding his unit on a Bed-Stuy sidewalk in 2007. Mr. Peterson suffered the unfathomable indignities of waiting outside while the ticket was being written, and of hearing the cops sing circus music to him (heh).

Admittedly, cops were in the wrong here: according to the law (which seems dumb), unicycles aren’t considered transportation, so it’s technically legal to ride them on the sidewalk (which is a terrifying thought for someone with dogs). But is this really worth $3 million of the city’s and, by default, our tax money? Does (light) mockery constitute police brutality? I respect Mr. Peterson’s right to redress police error, but $3 million just seems like rank opportunism.

Also, it should be illegal to ride a unicycle on the sidewalk (though Peterson recently got a ticket for “disorderly conduct” while unicycling on the sidewalk…).

2 Comment

  • I agree with the writers opinion of Mr Peterson’s right to redress, and agree that a $3 million dollar settlement seems extreme. This is why we have jury trials, and typically Juries are not generous to a plaintiff, rarely awarding the original amount requested in the suit. I did come away with an awkward feeling imposed by your reminding readers that it’s “our tax money”… as this fact shouldn’t effect our opinions of right and wrong. All in all, I believe we could all be a bit more sensitive and courteous to each other. Interesting article, thanks.

  • @bonobo
    Well, I think it’s actually pretty hard to think about “right and wrong” in the context of codified law without taking into consideration the punitive side of “wrong.” Is riding a unicycle on the sidewalk wrong (regardless of law)? Yes. We’re the cops “wrong” in this instance because they failed to issue the correct citation? Also yes. Would anybody care if Mr. Peterson was asking for, say, $50,000? Probably not (though, jeez, that’s still an awful lot of money for most of us).

    But $3 million is a huge payday for a technical wrong, and people will probably should care that it’s coming out of the city’s budget (and they should be angry at the cops for screwing up and costing us money).

    Obviously, we can’t always tie right and wrong to reward and punishment, but we can’t separate them entirely, either.