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.