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Law bans pedalling 2- or 3-wheeled devices; city says he broke spirit of law, if not the letter

A circus performer is suing New York City for $3 million after he was issued with a ticket for riding his unicycle on the pavement. Kyle Peterson, from Brooklyn, received the ticket in 2007 for contravening a city ordinance forbidding the riding of a “two-or-three-wheeled device” on the pavement.

It doesn’t take Rumpole of the Bailey to work out the main thrust of his argument.

Peterson also received a ticket for disorderly conduct during the incident, but the city is determined to fight his lawsuit and has filed a motion to have it dismissed, says the New York Daily News.

The newspaper adds that while Peterson may not have contravened the letter of a law aimed to protect pedestrians against cyclists speeding along the pavement, the city believes that he most certainly broke the spirit of it.

"The difference between a bicycle and a unicycle is negligible," insists city lawyer Vicki Zgodny.

"It goes without saying that a bicycle and a unicycle are capable of traveling at high speeds.

"The riding of a unicycle should be reserved for the circus, and not the streets of New York City."

In an earlier court hearing, both tickets against Peterson, who says that police held him for an hour while they ran background checks, were dismissed.

The acrobat, who in the past has performed with the Big Apple Circus, explains that when he was stopped on his unicycle, the police "began singing circus music."

He maintains that he is not after a big payout, but rather that he just wants to be able to ride his unicycle whenever and wherever he wants.

"I disagree that I'm putting anyone in danger by riding my unicycle 5 mph on an empty sidewalk at 3 in the morning," he says.

 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

11 comments

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thereverent [432 posts] 5 years ago
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The newspaper adds that while Peterson may not have contravened the letter of a law aimed to protect pedestrians against cyclists speeding along the pavement, the city believes that he most certainly broke the spirit of it.

Maybe, but in a court the letter of the law is generally more important.

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Simon_MacMichael [2466 posts] 5 years ago
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thereverent wrote:

Maybe, but in a court the letter of the law is generally more important.

You'd be surprised. I'd imagine that if this went before a court in England & Wales, the judge might be minded to apply what's called the "mischief rule," ie look at what the law was designed to do, and might hold that even though a unicycle clearly has just the one wheel, it should fall under the legislation in question  26

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OldRidgeback [2657 posts] 5 years ago
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crazy

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Chuffy [201 posts] 5 years ago
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Looking forward to the BSNY take on this.  19

$3m? Nob off...

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dave atkinson [6258 posts] 5 years ago
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Quote:

It goes without saying that a bicycle and a unicycle are capable of traveling at high speeds.

does it? you can't freewheel on a unicycle, nor do they generally run a very high gear

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Simon_MacMichael [2466 posts] 5 years ago
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dave_atkinson wrote:

does it? you can't freewheel on a unicycle, nor do they generally run a very high gear

I remember a few years back seeing a guy zoom past on a unicycle when we'd just staggered out of a pub by Victoria Park. Absolutely hammering down, it was. And yes, he was on the road. Chapeau, albeit a conical one with a bobble on top.

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step-hent [723 posts] 5 years ago
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Simon_MacMichael wrote:
thereverent wrote:

Maybe, but in a court the letter of the law is generally more important.

You'd be surprised. I'd imagine that if this went before a court in England & Wales, the judge might be minded to apply what's called the "mischief rule," ie look at what the law was designed to do, and might hold that even though a unicycle clearly has just the one wheel, it should fall under the legislation in question  26

[LaywerNerdActivate] English judges have to look at the intention of legislation as evidenced by the text which parliament chose when enacting it. The mischief rule is a tool used in determining that intention, but with such a specific law referring to two and three-wheeled vehicles, I'd say an English judge would more likely take the view that, if parliament had meant to include one-wheeled vehicles, they would have said so (unless that judge was the now-deceased Lord Denning, who did what ever he fancied and usually achieved some sort of justice). Otherwise we could be applying the rule to people on stilts too. [LaywerNerdDeactivate]

I like the consistency of suing for $3million and then claiming you don't want a big payout. Good skills.

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Simon_MacMichael [2466 posts] 5 years ago
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Outgeeked. Mind you, it's been a while since uni  1

Don't suppose it can be argued that politicians would be unaware of the existence of unicycles, given the number of clowns that politics seems to attract  3

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thereverent [432 posts] 5 years ago
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I had meant more that Mr Peterson should have a good chance of getting the ticket revoked.
His claim may well be rejected under the mischief rule, but you never know with US Courts.

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hairyairey [300 posts] 5 years ago
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His chances of success depend on his attitude and I think sueing for $3 million looks like a publicity stunt. T

he sensible thing to do would be to appeal on the basis the law doesn't apply to unicycles not look for a ridiculous sum of money (consider that in the UK the compensation for being killed by an uninsured driver is around £7,000). However I guess that doesn't sell as many papers.

I think he'll lose the case but gain more money from the publicity.

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Paul O [2 posts] 5 years ago
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How does a law suit for $3m and 'I'm not after a big payout' work then?!!

What does a 'big' payout look like?