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Did Someone Set Up a Bicyclist Booby Trap in Prospect Park?

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 04: A cyclist rides in Central Park on April 4, 2011 in New York City. Central Park, long a center point to Manhattan`s burgeoning cycling community, has become ground zero of a battle between the New York Police Department (NYPD) and riders as the police have begun issuing tickets to cyclists for both speeding and not stopping at traffic lights. The NYPD has issued 230 tickets to cyclists for over $200 between Jan. 1 and March 15 of this year. The riders are beginning to fight back with a Facebook group and appeals to New York`s Mayor Michael Bloomberg to set traffic lights to
Photo: Spencer Platt/2011 Getty Images

New York bicyclists often feel that the city is out to get them in one way or another. Sometimes, it seems that their paranoia is justified. On Monday, Gothamist reported on the somewhat-strange case of Midwood resident Michael Wilhelm, who says that he was injured after he ran over a trip wire that was deliberately strung across the road that runs through Prospect Park.

Wilhelm and his friend, Yisroel Pupko, said that they completed three uneventful laps around the drive last Tuesday night. Wilhelm was riding a few feet in front of Pupko as they neared the park’s Bartel-Pritchard Square entrance:

I saw the rope the second before I hit it — I think the word ‘shit’ came out of my mouth, and that was it,” Wilhelm said. The next thing he knew, he was lying on the side of the road. “My legs were strangely folded. I couldn’t lay down, and my whole body was shaking. My friend was panicking, I think. He kept asking if he should call an ambulance. I kept telling him to call, but I couldn’t get the word out.”

Pupko immediately called an ambulance and the NYPD. Wilhelm was taken to a nearby hospital, where he spent two days being treated for six broken ribs and a fractured elbow. Meanwhile, Pupko told police officers that the rope Wilhelm hit appeared to have been “tied taut” with the intention of hurting someone. However, the accident report said only that the victim “ran over a rope,” and the cops ignored repeated requests to add more detail to the write-up. Pupko says that they also brushed off another witness who said that he’d noticed “suspicious looking” people hanging around the scene of the accident.

[The lieutenant] is patting me on the back saying ‘We’re trying to help you here, not hurt you,’ as if I’m this liar trying to fabricate the whole thing,” [Pupko] said. But when he insisted that the lieutenant take the report as a crime, he resisted. “He said ‘Your friend was involved in a serious traumatic incident, there are certain inconsistencies we have to clarify,’” he said.

Though Wilhelm says that he’s just grateful that his injuries weren’t even more severe, Pupko vowed to continue to press the police over the accident. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like that’s going to happen: An NYPD spokesperson told Gothamist that the incident had not resulted in a crime report, though he did suggest that “the rope was perhaps placed across the road as an accident.” At least for now, it seems that Prospect Park’s bicyclists are on their own when it comes to pranksters and their dangerous booby traps. Maybe they’ll look into the issue once something bad happens to someone on a Citi Bike.

Bicyclist Says He Hit Prospect Park Booby Trap