The city has made huge strides towards making it a safer, better place for cyclists. There’s the recent rule mandating that commercial buildings permit indoor bike storage. Then there’s the boom in the population of cyclists. And of course, there’s the ongoing re-plumbing of city streets to make them safer, oftentimes involving constructing bike lanes physically separated from traffic, Copenhagen-style. There have been growing pains, to be sure, such as the skirmish — pitting Williamsburg’s hipsters against neighboring Hasids — over whether to install, or remove, a bike lane. Bike culture is clearly prospering in NYC, leading Bicycling magazine to rank NYC as the 8th best cycling town in the USA, a mammoth success given the city’s size and the pint-sized cycling utopias — such as Boulder, CO — that topped it .
Against this backdrop, the legal wranglings of a cop who apparently angrily knocked over a cyclist-protester are more sideshow than significant, but the case is a lightning rod for the city’s cycling activists. The NYT reports the trial just got going yesterday, revealing the caricatures the two sides are using to tar one another: the cyclist, as a confrontation-seeking hippy; the cop, as a hair-trigger thug. The stakes are potentially high for Patrick Pogan, the former police officer (he retired shortly after the incident) charged with knocking over the cyclist in 2008. If convicted on all charges, he could face up to four years in prison. See the now infamous video of this incident, below.