State Senator Marty Golden, Flashing Parking Placard and Threatening Arrest, Bullies Cyclist Out of His Car’s Way
In Albany, Golden is one of the chief obstructionists of expanding New York City's speed camera program, which is impervious to placard corruption and has flagged the same car he was riding in last night for several violations over the past few years.
State Senator Marty Golden tried to bypass a traffic jam on Third Avenue in Brooklyn last night by having his chauffeur drive in a bike lane. When Brian Howald refused to vacate the bike lane to clear a path, Golden pulled out a parking placard, claimed he was a police officer, and threatened to take him to a precinct, Howald says. As Howald tried to get a picture of Golden in the passenger’s seat, he says the chauffeur drove against traffic and ran two red lights to get away.
In Albany, Golden is one of the chief obstructionists of expanding New York City’s speed camera program, which is impervious to placard corruption and has flagged the same car Golden was riding in last night for several violations over the past few years.
Golden’s office has not returned Streetsblog’s request to confirm and comment on the incident. Photographs taken by Howald and others throughout the day confirm the passenger was Golden, wearing a tie with a distinctive cross-hatch pattern.
Howald posted about the encounter on Twitter last night. He told Streetsblog he was biking south on Third Avenue and 14th Street at 7:50 p.m. when he hit a traffic back-up. Drivers were trying to use the Third Avenue bike lane to bypass the jam, then merging back into the motor vehicle lane to get around him.
One driver refused to merge.
“A driver pulled up behind me, and the passenger rolled down the window, said something about ‘getting over,’ and gestured to the right,” Howald said. He thought the passenger wanted to access a nearby parking lot, and that his bike was blocking access to the curbcut. “So I moved forward about 15 feet, but the driver didn’t pull into the lot, he just continued to drive in the bike lane behind me. I refused to move, I told him I was in a bike lane and he shouldn’t drive in it. At that point the passenger told me to pull over.”
When Howald refused, the passenger “waved a placard and said he was a police officer, and again told me to pull over.”
“I sort of freaked out for a moment,” Howald said. “I said, look, I’m in the bike lane, I’m allowed to be here, to which he responded he’s going to take me to the precinct. I feared that I was going to be cited for doing something perfectly legal, so I started to bike away.”
But after a few seconds, Howald realized that the placard lacked an NYPD shield. It was mainly green, not the black typeface of a police placard.
“So I went back toward the car, and I said, ‘That’s not an NYPD placard,’ and he said, ‘How do you know?’ I said I’ve seen a lot of placards, and I know an NYPD placard when I see one. He called me an asshole, and I took out my camera.”
That prompted the passenger to roll up his window. “When I asked which precinct he’s from, the driver starts driving forward, entering 15th Street, still in part of the bike lane,” said Howald. “But he couldn’t get through because traffic was backed up for multiple light cycles.”
The driver then veered left into oncoming traffic, Howald said, but still couldn’t advance far after reentering the southbound side of Third Avenue. Howald quickly caught up at Hamilton Avenue, where the driver then went through a red light but was immobilized by gridlock.
When space opened up, the driver pulled away, but Howald was able to catch up again at 19th Street, where the driver had turned left and was stopped at a red under the BQE. While Howald tried to take more photos, he says, Golden was hiding behind his sun visor and blocking his face with his hand. “He would move his head and move the visor to shield his face,” Howald said.
As soon as a gap in northbound traffic opened up, the driver ran the red and peeled off. Still, Howald caught up at a light on Fourth Avenue and 34th Street, and was able to get a picture of Golden’s face.
@SenMartyGolden, is this you?
— Brian Howald (@bdhowald) December 12, 2017
The tell-tale detail was the passenger’s tie, which matches the tie Golden was wearing in photos posted by his Twitter feed from events that day.
Detectives Endowment Association Holiday Party with Jim Schry, Michael Palladino, Lou Matarazzo, and Tom Scotto pic.twitter.com/lWiYaPw6cL
— Senator Marty Golden (@SenMartyGolden) December 12, 2017
— Senator Marty Golden (@SenMartyGolden) December 11, 2017
So began a cycle of:
• me catching up to the car at a red light
• passenger maneuvering to hide face
• driver coasting through crosswalk to deny me a clear photo
• gunning the engine to blow the light at speed as soon as there was a gap in traffic.
— Brian Howald (@bdhowald) December 12, 2017
The same car Golden was riding in last night, a Cadillac with license plate number T327SD, has racked up several speeding and red light violations.
After Howald posted his story, open data sleuths found that the driver of the Cadillac was cited for: three school zone speeding violations and one red light violation in 2017, three school zone speeding tickets in 2016, and four school zone speeding tickets and one red light violation in 2015.
The episode highlights a huge but hidden effect of New York City’s parking placard system. Placards are essentially a form of currency for elected officials, and they engender a drive-everywhere culture. The same people who vote on initiatives like speed cameras or congestion pricing, which stand to benefit the majority of New Yorkers who get around by walking and transit, travel cocooned within their cars, flashing their placards to convey authority and impunity as needed.
A political ally of New York City’s police unions, which oppose speed cameras, Golden attended a holiday party for the Detectives Endowment Association, the second-largest police union in the city, the same night he accosted Howald.
As the senior Republican representing a New York City district in the GOP-held State Senate, Golden is an especially powerful gatekeeper in Albany. Golden has obstructed speed camera expansions during multiple legislative sessions, including 2017, preventing the city from installing enforcement measures that have proven to save lives.
Despite a push from Mayor de Blasio and tireless advocacy work on the part of traffic violence victims and their families, the Senate did not hold a vote on a bill that would have expanded the program this year. No Senate Republicans sponsored the bill, which cleared the Assembly. Golden referred to the bid to expand the program from 140 to 750 cameras as a “non-starter.”
Update: Golden’s office sent the following statement:
Senator Golden spoke exclusively to NY 1 News on this and it will air later. Those are the only comments he will be making on this at this time.