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Hero of the Week? The Cyclist Who Calls Placard-Abusing Cops ‘Assholes’

This cop left his or her squad car parked in the bike lane in Columbus Circle — and was more than mildly criticized. Photo: Rich Mintz

Wow, that cop is a real asshole!

Cyclists and others who detest the general chaos on our streets have long deplored how police officers tend to park wherever they want — but now one man is putting a colorful adjective on it.

Photo: Rich Mintz
Photo: Rich Mintz
Photo: Rich Mintz

"This NYPD officer is an asshole," reads a new flier that activist Rich Mintz slapped on squad cars in the bike lane in Columbus Circle on Thursday.

The flier then shifts to directly address the officer: "Parking in the bike safety infrastructure is illegal, even for police! Someone will be killed in traffic and it will be your fault. What is wrong with you?"

Mintz posted pictures of his efforts on Twitter.

"Stop parking BEHIND THE SAFETY BARRIER in the Columbus Circle bike infrastructure like it’s the Employee of the Month space," he wrote. "We’re not going to stop until this ends."

Mintz has been documenting police parking in bike lanes, including transit bureau officers in the newly built infrastructure on the southwestern corner of Central Park, but this is the first time he's posted such forceful language to demonstrate his frustration. (The NYPD declined to respond to a request for comment from Streetsblog.)

Overall, the online response was favorable...

https://twitter.com/BuySomethin/status/1225469760814620674

... but non-white activists cautioned against such direct action.

"Gonna leave this particular direct action (which I support!) to our white friends," tweeted @eparillon, whose account bio is illustrated with the flags of Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago.

And the keeper of the ultimate clearinghouse for placard perversion — the Twitter account @placardabuse — had some misgivings but lots of respect.

"I am also reluctant to encourage people to put themselves into situations where they could have a confrontation with an officer who has already demonstrated a level of disregard for the law and the safety of others," the account overseer told Streetsblog. "But I recognize the courage of somebody who does that to make their point in a non-violent way. We keep struggling with what recourse honest citizens have when their Police Commissioner blatantly allows (if he doesn't tacitly encourage) his subordinates to break the law and endanger the public."

Mintz agreed his approach isn't for everyone.

"This kind of aggressive and visible public action isn’t for everyone! It’s for people who have de facto social protection," he posted. "I could still be arrested! But if I were, I would make it extremely embarrassing for the police and some elected officials."

That larger point, of course, is that polite complaints have neither changed police behavior nor truly altered public opinion that cops should be allowed to use the streets however they wish. NYPD officials have long said they do not want officers parking in bike lanes, but have not stamped out the problem. And many cyclists have been killed an injured after being diverted from the relatively safety of a bike lane into traffic because of an illegally parked car.

It's one thing to mutter under one's breath. It's another to call out cops publicly with clear language.

Download your own flier here. Mintz has other similar fliers for other offenses and other drivers on his website.

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