Jasmijn Rijcken, Dutch Tourist, Pulled Over by NYPD for Biking in a Skirt in Soho

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Rijcken on the Brooklyn Bridge, in the outfit she was later stopped in.
What did we learn last week? It's legal to be topless in public in New York City! The police even said so. Yet there is plenty of other prudishness to contend with, given a recent story, which we originally read on Lovely Bicycle!: A Dutch tourist named Jasmijn Rijcken, 31, was in town for the New Amsterdam Bike Show and was stopped by the NYPD while biking on Broadway in Soho because she was wearing a skirt. We spoke to her by phone to get her story.

She told us: "I stopped to check the map, to check where I had to go. This policeman was in a car, and he stopped next to me and got out of the car. I was like, 'Oh, my God, what did I do wrong?' I was by myself. I thought maybe I rode wrong or something. But he starts talking about the way I was dressed."

At first, she thought he wasn't serious. But it soon became clear that he was. "He said I was distracting cars, and that it was dangerous, I shouldn't wear these clothes on a bike." She was not wearing a helmet, she says, but the cop never mentioned that.

When we asked what the cop looked like, Rijcken described him as "maybe 35 or 40, a white guy." She didn't get his name. But "he was acting like I did something really stupid, and asked for my ID." Rijcken gave him her Dutch train ID, and he responded, "Oh, you're not from here." Fearing she might have trouble leaving the country for her flight back to Holland the next day, Rijcken apologized, and said she wasn't aware there was a dress code. She says the cop told her, "I decide what's a dangerous situation."

She was ultimately not ticketed, and returned to her hotel. "The next day I was really careful not to wear a skirt," she says. Feeling ashamed she hadn't been aware of "cultural differences" in New York, Rijcken didn't tell anyone about the incident for awhile. When she eventually did, posting the story on Facebook and LinkedIn, however, she got an overwhelming response in her favor.

According to a comment from NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne to the Daily News, there may be no getting to the bottom of this story unless the officer comes forward: "Whether this story bears even a modest semblance of what actually occurred is impossible to establish without being provided the purported officer's name and getting his side of the story," he said.

Of New York biking in general, Rijcken said, "It's sad to see that there is so much disrespect between cars and bikes. In Holland, you do both -- one day you're in a car, one day you're on a bike -- and you respect each other. In New York it feels like a big fight." Still, she says, "I thought riding in New York City was beautiful."

Meanwhile, Joanna Virello, organizer of the New Amsterdam Bike Show, is planning a ride of folks who bike in skirts as a show of support. We'll keep you posted on the details. If you or someone you know has been stopped for "inappropriate attire" on a bike, please let us know.

Update: Responding to questions about whether this was a guerrilla marketing tactic for VANMOOF (the maker of the bike she's riding, and where she works), Rijcken emailed the following:

"I understand that they say that. I actually never went to the press myself. I just posted it on our Facebook page. I would have never for a second thought that this would be all over the media. I never mentioned my bike because I don't think that it matters what bike it is. It's beside the point.

I don't know really what to say to people who doubt it. It perhaps shows how insane it is that the police did this."

[JDoll / @thisisjendoll]

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31 comments
Brown5506
Brown5506

What the hell? He just wanted your name and address. who can blame him!

Pyre
Pyre like.author.displayName 1 Like

Another vote for "inept flirt" -- essentially,"Excuse me, Miss, but you're dressed so prettily that you may distract drivers and cause a danger to traffic!" -- and when that didn't work, the officer fell back on keeping a straight face and citing rules whether real or invented (a drilled-in standard survival tactic).

If Jasmijn had responded differently, by flirting back, I think the entire rest of the encounter would have gone otherwise. Bad ethics on the part of the officer? That, at least. Certainly bad luck all around.

Mmmaggie50
Mmmaggie50 like.author.displayName 1 Like

It sounds like he was hitting on her.  Coward will never come forward I bet. 

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

Hey, when I ride a bike, I wear a pair of short shorts!  Always have, always will.  There is such a thing called "wind." 

Ragman69
Ragman69

Cops...to protect and serve! 

CAMSHEEL
CAMSHEEL

This is funny  what is the big deal  ladiess bycycle is for lady to ride with a skirt that is why bycyles are made  with the bar down.  So you can walk topless wow! but riding with a skirt on is worng?

Euro
Euro

CAMSHEEL This is funny  what is the big deal  ladiess bycycle is for lady to ride with a skirt that is why bycyles are made  with the bar down.  So you can walk topless wow! but riding with a skirt on is worng

 What are you talking about?

Gäst
Gäst

To clear things up, i searched her name and the second link was "http://nl.linkedin.com/in/jasm..."

Is it that hard to do it yourself? It's clearly fake as she is SELLING bicycles

Her profile states;

"Jasmijn likes to shock the market""In 2009 Jasmijn returned to The Netherlands and joined the brothers Carlier in launching urban bike company VANMOOF""There are hundreds of ways to reach the customer, so looking beyond the usual is an absolute must”. "Guerrilla marketing, PR & social media marketing"

CAMSHEEL
CAMSHEEL

WOW! You can walk topless but get stopped riding a bycycle in a skirt?  Sorry but i find that funny guessing ok to ride bycyle topless with helmet? Oh yes remember to where jeans.

Euro
Euro

 You CAN walk topless in an American city? R u kidding?

Theresa Benjamin
Theresa Benjamin

Yes. That's a law in NYC. Also there's a link to it on top of the story. I think that was the point.

Native43
Native43

First u should'nt use the "F" word here in comment second I believe the cop just wanted to talk to the pretty model, ya think...

Lovely Bicycle!
Lovely Bicycle!

This is an admirably even-handed write-up, including your treatment of the question of the incident's veracity. 

What alarmed me about the story, was that as soon as I posted about it on twitter, I received comments and emails from female readers describing similar things happening to them (not necessarily in NYC). When I wrote about it on Lovely Bicycle, there were further comments attesting to the same. If police are using some misguided notions of "dress code" to intimidate or flirt with women cyclists, that is not acceptable and PDs should educate their officers in what constitutes appropriate conduct. 

Thank you again for your coverage.

Mongo
Mongo

So The Village Voice is getting 'news' articles off of Facebook pages now? 

Avihil1
Avihil1

This is not America's leg-acy !

Euro
Euro

This is so funny.Being European I must say that it seems there is a quite bit of a difference between America that Hollywood wants us to believe exists and the real America.Actually, what I just read is scary.

Rebecca Twigg
Rebecca Twigg

Publicity stunt (despite the disclaimer) ** or ** some cop FLIRTING-- however ineptly/inaptly.

Upper-middle-class (or rich) white women sure so get an inordinate amount of attention on this blog, don't they?

Cops do dumb shit-- and helpful shit-- all the time but this is a non-story.

M Mackenzie
M Mackenzie

The culture of New York City is not the culture of the rest of the country, or even the rest of the state of New York. The City has become like Singapore or other police-state like cities around the world thanks to that fascist little mayor and his jack-booted police force. Only in New York City is it illegal to smoke outside in the middle of a city park. Only in New York (and maybe Beijing and Moscow) can a black man get shot 41 times by half a dozen cops for pointing a cell phone at them. New York may have made its streets safer for tourists, but at what cost. It must be hell to live there if you love personal freedoms.

Thisthat
Thisthat

I think it's funny you mentioned beijing like that. It's one of the safest cities I've ever lived in. A young woman can walk around anywhere safely at night (except the foreigner club area of Sanlitun filled with drunk western guys). There is certainly a lot of racism but a black guy ain't gonna get shot. Political protests? That a different story.

faunicoke
faunicoke

 She is a liar

John
John

How do you know that she is lying?The N.Y. cops are known world wide for playing god and lying about the truth and taking payoffs,OORR are you a N.Y. finest two?

Homerj
Homerj

Whatevs! Im not a fan of cops, but this seems like a BS complaint... Other articles point at how this is a publicity scam... If you're gonna complain about cops, make it a legit complaint... She didnt get ticketed, and she didnt get a name...

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