Marty Golden Would Have Gotten Away With Impersonating a Cop, If It Weren’t for That Meddling Cyclist

Who do you believe? Brian Howald, who has nothing to gain from saying that Golden used his parking placard to impersonate an officer. Or State Senator Marty Golden, who has everything to lose.

This is how we'll remember State Senator Marty Golden — pretending to be a cop to intimidate a cyclist. Photo: Brian Howald
This is how we'll remember State Senator Marty Golden — pretending to be a cop to intimidate a cyclist. Photo: Brian Howald

State Senator Marty Golden has been in damage control mode since he was caught using a bike lane to bypass traffic in his chauffeured Cadillac. Golden’s PR strategy consists primarily of publicly insulting and intimidating the person he bullied in that Brooklyn bike lane Monday night, Brian Howald.

Howald, who was riding on Third Avenue and refused to clear the way by vacating the bike lane, says Golden flashed a parking placard, claimed he was a police officer, and threatened to take Howald to a precinct for standing his ground. When Howald figured out the placard didn’t belong to an officer and tried to get a picture of Golden’s face, the chauffeur took evasive action, driving against traffic and blowing two red lights.

Golden has been extremely tightlipped since then, refusing to talk to most media outlets, including Streetsblog. His public statements rely on two core assertions: He did not impersonate a police officer (which by the way is a criminal offense), and Brian Howald is a crazy, aggro cyclist. Golden is betting that by evoking the well-worn image of hotheads on bikes, he can get people to overlook a case of serious misconduct by an elected official.

On Tuesday, Golden spoke only to NY1, claiming that on the night in question, his car was in the bike lane to avoid blocking the box. He said Howald needs to “get a life” and that “if he’s doing it to other drivers — other vehicles — he is leading towards a cyclist road rage.”

On his Twitter account the next day, Golden continued the attack, saying Howald took “personal responsibility for the policing of traffic” and “unnecessarily escalated this situation and created an unsafe environment for all involved.” That was followed by this swipe:

Two stories are being told from different perspectives, but this isn’t Rashomon. One account has internal consistency, a logical arc, and hard-won credibility. The other does not.

Brian Howald gave the same detailed telling of events in different conversations with multiple news outlets. He was accosted by someone in a car who demanded that Howald cede street space he had every right to occupy, a situation that will ring true to anyone who has biked on New York City streets.

When Howald asserted his right to be in the bike lane, the car occupant pulled out his badge of authority — his parking placard — said he was a cop, and threatened to haul Howald to a police precinct. After realizing the threat was empty, Howald tried to identify the perpetrator by taking pictures of him and his vehicle. He eventually succeeded.

Because Howald’s pictures indisputably show Marty Golden in the passenger seat, Golden can’t pretend it wasn’t him. What Golden can do is deny he committed a crime and impugn Howald’s character to discredit the allegation.

Golden’s story, meanwhile, is a jumble. He told NY1 his chauffeur was in the bike lane to avoid blocking the box. But Howald’s pictures show Golden’s car in the bike lane mid-block between 14th Street and 15th Street. If the driver only entered the bike lane to get out of the way of cross traffic, shouldn’t he have immediately merged back into the motor vehicle lane instead of driving further down the block in a bike lane?

The rest of it makes even less sense and relies on negative cyclist stereotypes to do the heavy lifting. Howald, equipped only with a bicycle and a phone camera while facing Golden in his multi-ton Cadillac, purportedly worked himself into a “cyclist road rage” (or it was all part of Howald’s masterplan to foment mass “cyclist road rage” via social media, it’s not really clear) and “unnecessarily escalated this situation and created an unsafe environment for all involved.”

The implication seems to be that merely by taking pictures, Howald forced Golden’s driver to run red lights. A proper, non-road-raging cyclist would have meekly stepped aside and let the Cadillac continue on down the bike lane. Then none of this unpleasantness with the placard, and the threats, and the reckless driving would have happened.

Golden, with his history of speeding and red light running, is hiding behind the classic New York City trope of the angry street cyclist, the aggressive “kamikaze” willing to take crazy risks for a strange, unfathomable cause.

If Golden can get people to hold that image in their mind’s eye, they won’t perceive what’s happening here: A powerful man caught in the act of abusing his authority, trying desperately to evade consequences by attacking the person who outwitted him and posted evidence on the internet for everyone to see.

  • qrt145

    “A powerful man caught in the act of abusing his authority”

    Golden didn’t even have any authority! He was abusing the authority that he pretended to have by impersonating a cop.

  • gneiss

    It’s important to also point out that this illegal driving behavior is not an aberration, but part of a well established pattern. Over the last three years, the vehicle he was traveling in has racked up 33 violations, including 10 for speeding in school zones. Suggesting that Mr. Howald was being “aggressive” on a 25-lb bicycle in the bike lane when Senator Golden has a well documented history of dangerous driving and contempt for traffic law in his SUV is patently absurd.

  • Isaac B

    It gets “better”.

    I’ve donated to TA and Streetsblog and asked them to send cards to Golden’s office (7408 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209).

  • 1976boy

    Lock him up

  • Barry Grant

    Ah right so he committed a violation (driving in a bike lane) to escape *another* violation (blocking the box) and as we all know, in the world of entitled, bottom feeding, scum sucking, hypocrite politicians, two wrongs do indeed make a right.

    Can anyone tell me if he received violations for speeding in a school zone and odd or an even number of times?

  • Ken Dodd

    At least we now know why he’s so opposed to speed cameras.

  • Jesse

    Props to Howald for the having the courage to stand up to a bullying driver even in the face of his false claim of authority. Anyone who bikes in NYC knows how dangerous it can be to stand up to an aggressive driver.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Perhaps drivers could relate to this situation. They are stuck in traffic on a limited access highway, at a dead stop or something close to it. When a vehicle that is not an emergency vehicle blows by in the breakdown lane, so it wouldn’t be stuck in traffic.

  • Vooch

    Howard is a hero for exposing the corruption and graft of Golden who has been milking the taxpayers of NYC since his bogus disability claim of 1983 ( when he was 33 years old )

  • Vooch

    Golden killed a women in 2005 and got away with it

  • reasonableexplanation

    In driver culture, this is considered a dick move.

  • Right. So he is saying that drivers should then understand that it’s also a dick move to use the bike lane for the same purpose.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Absolutely! In fact, they already understand it, which is why, like the douche driving down the shoulder, it’s only a tiny portion of drivers who do these things. With a big population, a tiny portion is still a lot of people though!

  • c2check

    Or in NYC, the guy using the empty parking lane to squeeze past other cars (eg at an intersection) before cutting back into the proper travel lane—a move I see pretty frequently around here.

  • Isaac B

    The bike lane Golden’s driver reportedly cut through was in use by a cyclist.

    The analogy here is someone who swerves off the road and tries to cut across your front lawn, except he can’t because your daughter is playing on it. So he tells her he’s a cop and threatens her.

  • Adamlaw

    An arrogant public official violating the law by impersonating a police officer and threatening an innocent law abiding citizen with physical harm, fear and arrest is criminal conduct that needs to be investigated by the State Senate, DA’s office and/or AG’s office at a minimum. Nobody especially a public official is above the law.

  • Bernard Finucane

    Which is why you surround driving lanes with metal posts.

  • Peter Engel

    Continuing cop privilege. Marty hasn’t been one in 35 years but still thinks and acts like one.

  • Peter Engel

    So how does one do that? Obviously we have to pressure the media to keep on it. So far de Blasio and the NYPD have said zilch.

  • Peter Engel

    I’m happy with him just losing a committee and leaving office. Most importantly, take away the placard for the public’s safety.

  • Ken Dodd

    They never stop.