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HomeTechWith a bullhorn and a radar equipment, an activist confronts the ‘Tour de France’ riders speeding through Central Park.
Jerome-Dewald

With a bullhorn and a radar equipment, an activist confronts the ‘Tour de France’ riders speeding through Central Park.

The spandex-clad “Tour de France” bikers in Central Park are being criticised by an incensed activist.

 

Since May, Jerome Dewald, 71, has spent several hours each day harassing cyclists who run red lights and speed through dangerous park intersections. He does this by using a radar gadget to monitor their speed and a bullhorn to try to humiliate them into slowing down.

 

“These Tour de France athletes can call you an a-hole while you’re in the crosswalk, but by the time you respond, they’ve already crossed the street 40 feet away. The bullhorn takes care of that issue, the Manhattan resident said to The Post while manning the crosswalk on West Drive near West 63rd Street recently.

 

“I’ve been attacked by a couple guys. One of the men threw a bottle my way. The horn was smacked out of my hand by one guy, he claimed.

 

Bicyclists are required by law to obey the pedestrian signals and stop light at the crosswalk.

 

Over the summer, Dewald’s act gained popularity. More than 32,000 people “liked” a video of him berating cyclists who run the red light on the “What is New York?” Instagram page.

 

In 2014, Connecticut mom Jill Tarlov died from injuries after a crash with a cyclist who had clocked a top speed of 35.6 mph in the park hours before the collision at the intersection.

 

Later, her relatives called the circumstance at the crosswalk a “time bomb.”

 

Dewald, a self-described activist and entrepreneur with a murky past, claimed that things have only gotten worse.

 

If we don’t take action to regulate traffic in the intersection, we’re truly skating on thin ice. Children would suffer harm, if not even death, he warned, mentioning the Fieldston School and the nearby YMCA.

 

More than 1,200 people have signed a petition on Change.org supporting Dewald’s one-man crusade. He claimed that he spends an hour there during the workdays and three hours there on the weekends to record cyclists, measure their speed with a Doppler radar gadget, and yell at them over the bullhorn.

 

With recordings of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” and “Stop in the Name of Love,” which he played through his bullhorn, he began his message in a more subdued manner. Dewald substituted a clip of Kevin Kline calling someone a “a-hole” in the film “A Fish Called Wanda” after realising the message wasn’t being understood.

 

When people are in the crosswalk, even when the light is red, “it is not uncommon for the Tour de France men, the guys with the $3,000 bikes and the $500 plastic pants, to come roaring through here at a pace of between 28 and 33 miles per hour,” he added. Additionally, they yell at you.

 

Among the irate advocate’s demands are better enforcement, a barrier between bike lanes and jogger lanes, rumble strips for bikes, an elevated crosswalk, better signs to prevent wrong-way cyclists, stop signs and signs to inform cyclists of kids crossing.

 

In his eventful past, Dewald has run a controversial PAC to support the legalisation of marijuana in New York City and was convicted in 2005 in Michigan on fraud and larceny charges related to two political action committees, one for Al Gore and one for George W. Bush, in the 2000 presidential election.

 

Mike Wittman, the widow of Tarlov, declined to respond since he hasn’t spoken to Dewald and doesn’t want to subject his family to reliving the incident of his wife’s passing.

 

DOT values crossing safety and accessibility in Central Park, according to Mona Bruno, a spokesman for the city Department of Transportation.

 

“For this reason, we’ve worked with the Parks Department for years to enhance route management and facilitate crossing. Our recent installation of accessible pedestrian signals at this intersection helps us meet our ambitious target of having 10,000 intersections equipped with APS by the end of 2031, she said, referring to the system of pedestrian signals that talk and vibrate.

Udit Ghosh

Udit Ghosh is a Journalist at Flaunt Weekly.

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