In November of 2010, I was detained by two NYPD officers while riding my unicycle on the sidewalk near my home in Brooklyn. The officers took my ID and began issuing me a summons for bicycling on the sidewalk. I told the officers that I had been through this once before, and that under New York State law, unicycles are actually legal on the sidewalk. The officers took note of what I said and instead issued me a summons for obstructing pedestrian traffic, a criminal violation, even though there were no pedestrians in the vicinity. Not to take the situation sitting down, I decided to sue the NYPD for wrongful arrest. This lead to a great deal of press coverage. The New York Daily News went so far as to interview the former DOT commissioner regarding my case:
Former city Department of Transportation Deputy Commissioner Sam Schwartz sided with the cops, even if the letter of the law is not on their side. “I cannot condone unicycling, bicycling or tricycling by adults on the sidewalk,” said Schwartz, who writes the Gridlock Sam column for the Daily News. “Unicycling – even by an expert – on the sidewalk is particularly dangerous.”
Then again, if anyone could be secure on a one-wheeled vehicle, it is Kyle Petersen. For several years, the rolling legend has entertained crowds at MCU (formerly Keyspan) Park in Coney Island by juggling while bouncing on his pedal-powered vehicle. Now, Petersen is as much a symbol of the Cyclones as Sandy the Seagull or Wally Backman kicking dirt on an umpire’s shoes.
My story also got picked up on local television. Below you can watch me on PIX11: After all the charges against me were dismissed, PIX11 ran a follow up: