I know it’s early on a Tuesday morning, the weather’s miserable (at least where I am), and the pound is falling faster than Geraint Thomas at a grand tour… but don’t worry, because it’s anti-cycling bingo time again!
And boy, do I have a rather unusual one for you this morning…
Over the weekend, the New York Post (basically the American Sun) interviewed a so-called activist who spends an hour every weekday and three hours at the weekend tracking the speeds of cyclists at a Central Park junction with a radar gun – before shouting at them through a megaphone.
“An aggravated activist is calling bull on Central Park’s spandex-clad ‘Tour de France’ bicyclists,” reads the Post’s opening paragraph. Line!
71-year-old Jerome Dewald told the paper: “If you’re in the crosswalk and these Tour de France guys come flying through, they can call you an a–hole, but by the time you say it back, they’re already 40 feet down the road. The bullhorn solves that problem.
“I’ve had a few guys assault me. One guy threw a bottle at me. One guy slapped the horn out of my hand.”
A video of the dandily dressed self-styled entrepreneur (we’ll get to that later) putting his megaphone to use managed to garner over 32,000 likes on YouTube last month.
Dewald says his campaign was inspired by the tragic death in 2014 of Jill Tarlov, who was killed in a collision with a cyclist at the junction. The cyclist was reported to have reached 35.6mph earlier in the day in Central Park. However, Tarlov’s widower told the Post that he has not spoken with Dewald and does not want to relive his wife’s death.
> NYC controversy: Cyclist not charged in Central Park collision that put pedestrian on ventilator
Nevertheless, the 71-year-old claims that things have got worse since 2014 and that “kids are going to get hurt, if not killed” by speeding cyclists in the park, unless better enforcement and infrastructure are introduced soon.
He continued: “It is not uncommon for the Tour de France guys, the guys with the $3,000 bikes and the $500 plastic pants, to come flying through here at a speed of between 28 and 33 miles an hour when people are in the crosswalk, even when the light is red. And they yell at you, too.”
Your bingo card may be filling up fast, but there’s a twist coming up that not even the caller saw coming.
In 2005, Dewald was convicted of fraud and larceny charges in Michigan for his role in organising two political-action committees during the 2000 presidential election – one which raised money for Democrat Al Gore, and one backing Republican George W. Bush.
“Dewald simply used the 2000 presidential election to create an air of legitimacy for his illegitimate objective: to funnel money to his for-profit consulting firm under false pretences,” Sixth Circuit Justice Ronald Lee Gilman, responsible for reinstating Dewald’s conviction after a successful appeal, said in 2014.
A later campaign organised by Dewald – this time focusing on marijuana legalisation – also came under scrutiny after other activists questioned his motives.
At least he’s worrying about “$500 plastic pants” now…