Saudi Arabia on the Hudson: NYPD Officer Stopped Cyclist For Wearing Skirt

When Jasmijn Rijcken, the general manager of the VANMOOF bicycle company, traveled from Amsterdam to New York in late April, she was excited to see what she’d heard described as a city that had embraced bicycling. It wasn’t NYC’s new protected bike lanes that defined her ride through the city, however, but the New York Police Department, currently in the midst of a major crackdown against cyclists.

Jasmijn Rijcken was stopped and almost ticketed by an NYPD officer for biking in this outfit. Her skirt, the officer said, was too distracting for drivers.

Rijcken was in town for the New Amsterdam Bike Show on April 30. After she had dismounted on Broadway in SoHo, an NYPD officer stopped, berated, and threatened to ticket Rijcken for wearing a skirt while cycling, which, it must be noted, is entirely legal and common. Rijcken says the officer told her that her skirt was dangerous because she would distract drivers and potentially cause them to crash.

“I was standing there next to my bike, looking at my map, and then this police guy stops and starts telling me about my skirt,” reported Rijcken. “At first I thought he was making a joke or maybe even a compliment, but then I found out he was serious because he got really mad.”

The officer got out of his car and threatened to ticket her, said Rijcken, even though, it bears repeating, there is no law against biking in a skirt. The justification for a potential ticket was the danger her exposed skin posed to everyone on the street. “That was the bottom line, that I was very dangerous,” said Rijcken. “I think every woman, even when walking in a skirt, would be dangerous then.”

According to Rijcken, the cop’s words were not merely an empty threat. He took her ID and only began to back down when he saw that she was Dutch. She hurriedly explained that in Amsterdam, it’s common for women to bike in skirts. In the end, the officer told her she should change into pants and let her go.

At the time, Rijcken said, she wasn’t sure that she hadn’t broken the law. “If you’re by yourself in a different country and a police guy comes really angrily at you, you get scared,” she said.

This is not the first time an NYPD officer has stopped cyclists for completely frivolous non-offenses. In April, a private school administrator received a ticket for biking with a tote bag on her handlebars. The police have not responded to a Streetsblog inquiry about Rijcken’s allegations.

Her harassment at the hands of the police has colored Rijcken’s perception of not only New York City but the United States. “I was shocked,” she said. “In Holland, people refer to America as the country of freedom.”

  • because a womans body= a sexual object that serves no other purpose other than to excite/distract you. her legs were cycling, not walking down a runway

  • Ksesto

    well if she’s in great shape and it’s viral marketing yah!!!   i bicycle in the streets of downtown Toronto everyday and have t admit it’s a joy to meet people in the cars, or on another bike.   Really beats being agresssive in a car

  • Ksesto

    well if she’s in great shape and it’s viral marketing yah!!!   i bicycle in the streets of downtown Toronto everyday and have t admit it’s a joy to meet people in the cars, or on another bike.   Really beats being agresssive in a car

  • Driver

    If this actually happened in SoHo it is very likely it was caught on a security camera somewhere.  I doubt such footage exists though. 

  • Edifier69

    you’re making the mistake of not blaming the cop for this.  “I was following orders,” is not an excuse.  If someone tells you to do something that you know is wrong, and you do it, you are not a good person.  Simple as that.

  • Bill C

    “Freedom” is a matter of perception or “just another word” as Janis Joplin told us. Mayor Bloomberg has given the NYPD license to harass and ticket New Yorkers for trivial, often nonexistent offenses. Many of these summonses are summarily dismissed, so what is the point? It seems to be a tremendous waste of resources and taxpayer money. On the other hand they can serve to alter patterns of behavior that are more conducive to public safety.

  • Fatuousplatitudes
  • Dee

    Seriously the gams are not that hot. Look cankly to me. Just get over it.

  • This is OUTRAGEOUS, that police force is TOTALLY unfair! she did NOTHING WRONG! they are SO sexist!

  • Yabbadoo

    this is the most intelligent response I’ve read in ages. you’re absolutely right. Nobody in the right frame of mind would ever stop someone with a face like that for being too sexy. come on man look at those glasses! it’s a hoax! she’s tryin to seel the van der hoof bike which – as we dutch all know – is crap quality from taiwan built rusty parts. funn to see how many people fall for it.

  • Jmp62

    As we have seen from the New York Police in 1. The ticketing for not cycling in a bike lane and 2. Almost getting ticketted for wearing a skirt, it isn’t necessarily an anti-cycling attitude, but an anti-normal weight attitude, as the average New York Police Officer would clearly not be supported by anything less than a cycle made out of RSJ’s! Glad to see our English bobbies embrace cycling wholeheartedly and practice the same themselves either when on or off-duty. 

  • Triathlon13

    I’m sorry for the ignorance of NY’s men in blue!

  • Ginger_Prince

    Land of the Free with the most Rules?

  • Kennyboss

    You would think they had better things to do with there time but then again it`s safer than tackling a mugger

  • eric

    Looks like Streetsblog has deleted every comment that does not agree with their assessment. I guess censorship is alive and well.

  • Jaypeewhy

    It’s a PR con to promote the bike, Jasmin is the PR and Marketing bod for Canmoof bikes.  Nice try!  http://ontfront.blogspot.com/2010/06/vanmoof-bikes.html

  • Papisyn
  • Lvignes

    suspect it’s a marketing ploy..

  • Jim

     “In Holland, people refer to America as the country of freedom.”
    Ummm, NO ONE in Holland says this.

  • mt

    Jasmijn: “Money should not be the determining factor in the marketing mix. More important is taking time to find unique and genius communication solutions. I am pumped to continuously use new weapons to create awareness. There are hundreds of ways to reach the customer, so looking beyond the usual is an absolute must”.Jasmijn likes to shock the market!

  • Nony Mouse

    “Use new weapons” – there can be damage done to the reputations using marketing weapons. So whilst I commend the use of a free marketing tactic, I wonder about the morality of doing so at cost to the already poor view the world has of the police in the US which now is slandered with being similar to Saudi in terms of its views on women’s legs? Trouble is that the story is so believable… 

  • Anonymous

    I bet it was just a creepy way for the cop to talk to girl. “I was standing there next to my bike, looking at my map, and then this police guy stops and starts telling me about my skirt,”= Creepy. Doesn’t the guy have better things to do

  • this is realy good and i got the material here that i searching for.

  • Over the River

    At one time America was the country of freedom, but George W. Bush put a stop to that.

  • cheap bras

    Amazing write-up! This could aid plenty of people find out more about this particular issue. Are you keen to integrate video clips coupled with these? It would absolutely help out. Your conclusion was spot on and thanks to you; I probably won’t have to describe everything to my pals. I can simply direct them here!

  • Jos de Slegte

    When I was in NYC and saw such a Dutch beauty passing
    by I should have ask her the way even when I should know. I think this police
    work is the same. A created opportunity to speak with the attractive dressed
    girl. 

    If he really wants forbid this way the girl dresses
    herself it shows how poor the USA became under the Bush government.

  • Anonymous

    The Bush government has not been in power since 2007. Did you know that the New York Police Department is controlled by the mayor of New York, not the United States Federal Government, which is led by Barack Obama, a democrat?

  • James

    I wish there was some sort of follow-up story on this so that we could have an excuse to tell this story again.

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