By MELISSA PFEIFFER The New York Times columnist M.D. Anderson has been the subject of a spate of attacks on his bicycling advocacy over the past few years, particularly by a group calling itself BikePower.
The organization has been criticized for its use of “bicycle shaming,” in which critics charge that the group’s members are riding bikes in places where they aren’t supposed to, like on public sidewalks, to “test the limits of our democracy.”
The group has also called the city a “bikie capital” that “has been given to the big bike companies to sell us to the highest bidder,” and the idea that people are riding on the streets to do so is “racist.”
And in recent months, the group has launched a series of lawsuits against city agencies, demanding that they cease and desist from collecting data about bike usage and charging fees for users.
In February, it also launched a petition drive, which now has more than 500,000 signatures.
In response, the city announced that it was pulling data from its website and charging users for access to the site, and that the city would be collecting the data from all bikes, not just those registered in New York City.
“It’s a clear effort to intimidate, to silence, to stifle the voice of a community that is trying to be heard,” said Eric Kinsman, a spokesman for the advocacy group, BikePower NYC.
“This is a way to intimidate and silence anyone who wants to speak out against the city and to get more of the money and the power of the city to fund these bike shaming operations.”
And it’s not just BikePower that’s taking a swipe at Anderson.
The New Yorker magazine recently ran an article about a cyclist who has sued the city for not collecting data on his usage of public transit, arguing that it’s illegal.
The cyclist, a New Yorker named David V. Vartanyan, told the magazine that he was biking home after a night of drinking at a bar with friends when he noticed an officer stopping his car in the middle of the street.
Vartyan, who is also a registered Democrat, says he didn’t realize the officer was a cop because he didn-t see him there before, and then he realized it was a cyclist.
He says he was driving on the sidewalk when the officer asked him to move along and that he didn t have a ticket, but he was told that he’d have to pay a $200 fine.
“He said, ‘Do you want to pay that?’ and I said, No, I don’t want to,'” Vartan told the publication.
“I just said, I have no money.
I said to the cop, ‘Can I ask you to give me your name?
I don t know who you are.'”
The officer, according to Vartantanyan’s lawsuit, responded, “No, you don t have to.”
The officer then ordered him to “walk on the ground.”
Vartancanyan was subsequently arrested, fined $2,000, and taken to a nearby precinct, where he was handcuffed and fingerprinted.
“The police are the ones who should be in charge of enforcing the law, not the people who are riding bicycles,” he wrote in the complaint.
The NYPD said in a statement that it has taken action against the organization.
“While we have not yet determined exactly how these charges were filed, the NYPD has initiated disciplinary action against Mr. Vanyan for his actions, which violate the NYPD’s policies and procedures,” the statement read.
“Mr. Vantanyann’s actions are illegal and we are conducting an internal investigation into this matter.”
A spokesperson for the NYPD also said that it would be releasing more information about the case “in the coming days.”
The New Yorkers Civil Liberties Union also weighed in, saying in a letter to the New York Attorney General’s office that it “is deeply troubled by the fact that a New York police officer has targeted and targeted and attacked one of our most important civic institutions: the city’s bicycle infrastructure.”