Unicyclist sues New York City for $3 million over pavement cycling fine

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

by Simon_MacMichael   March 21, 2011  

Unicycle Source US Library of Congress .jpg

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.

 

11 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

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.

posted by thereverent [313 posts]
21st March 2011 - 13:15

1 Like

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 Nerd

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8388 posts]
21st March 2011 - 13:44

2 Likes

crazy

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2288 posts]
21st March 2011 - 15:11

1 Like

Looking forward to the BSNY take on this. Devil

$3m? Nob off...

Chuffy's picture

posted by Chuffy [190 posts]
21st March 2011 - 15:17

1 Like

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

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7468 posts]
21st March 2011 - 15:45

1 Like

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.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8388 posts]
21st March 2011 - 16:11

0 Likes

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 Nerd

[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.

posted by step-hent [697 posts]
21st March 2011 - 16:30

2 Likes

Outgeeked. Mind you, it's been a while since uni Smile

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 Wink

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8388 posts]
21st March 2011 - 16:54

0 Likes

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.

posted by thereverent [313 posts]
22nd March 2011 - 13:13

1 Like

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.

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [291 posts]
22nd March 2011 - 17:35

0 Likes

How does a law suit for $3m and 'I'm not after a big payout' work then?!!

What does a 'big' payout look like?

Paul O

Paul O's picture

posted by Paul O [2 posts]
17th April 2011 - 22:58

1 Like