Jerome Dewald, 71, has devoted several hours every day since May trolling speeding, red light-blowing cyclists at a deadly Central Park intersection.
Published: 2022-09-25 12:37 pm
Activist takes on Central Park’s speeding ‘Tour de France’ cyclists with bullhorn, radar device
nypost.com

An aggravated activist is calling bull on Central Park’s spandex-clad “Tour de France” bicyclists.

Jerome Dewald, 71, has devoted several hours every day since May trolling speeding, red-light-blowing cyclists at a deadly park intersection — using a radar device to track their speed and a bullhorn to try to shame them into slowing down.

“If you’re in the crosswalk and these Tour de France guys come flying through, they can call you an a–hole, but by the time you say it back, they’re already 40 feet down the road. The bullhorn solves that problem,” the Manhattan man told The Post while recently stationed at the crosswalk on West Drive near West 63rd Street.

“I’ve had a few guys assault me. One guy threw a bottle at me. One guy slapped the horn out of my hand,” he said.

The crosswalk has a stop light and pedestrian signals, which cyclists must obey by law.

Dewald’s shtick went viral over the summer. A video of him blasting cyclists who blow through the red light earned more than 32,000 “likes” on the “What is New York?” Instagram page.

(image)
The 71-year-old on West Drive near West 63rd Street with the bullhorn he uses to call speeding cyclists “a–holes.”
J. Messerschmidt/NY Post

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.

Her family later described the situation at the crosswalk as a “time bomb.”

Dewald, a self-styled entrepreneur and activist with a checkered past, said things have only gotten worse.

“We are really skating on thin ice if we don’t do something about controlling traffic in the intersection. Kids are going to get hurt, if not killed,” he said, citing a nearby YMCA and Fieldston School.

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Dewald said he is concerned about children getting hurt or killed if the city doesn’t crack down on bike riders speeding in the park.
J. Messerschmidt/NY Post

Dewald’s one-man campaign is backed by a Change.org petition with more than 1,200 signatures. He said he spends an hour each weekday and three hours on weekends at the location videoing cyclists, tracking their speed with a Doppler radar device and telling them off with the bullhorn.

His messaging started out gentler, with recordings of “Stop in the Name of Love” and Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” that he played through his bullhorn. When he realized the message wasn’t getting across, Dewald swapped in a clip of Kevin Kline saying “a–hole” in the movie “A Fish Called Wanda.”

“It is not uncommon for the Tour de France guys, the guys with the $3,000 bikes and the $500 plastic pants, to come flying through here at a speed of between 28 and 33 miles an hour when people are in the crosswalk, even when the light is red,” he said. “And they yell at you, too.”

(image)
Dewald said he’s even been assaulted by a few of the “Tour de France guys.”
J. Messerschmidt/NY Post

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.

Dewald’s action-packed past includes running a PAC to fund marijuana legalization in New York City that came under scrutiny, and a 2005 conviction in Michigan on fraud and larceny charges tied to two political action committees — one for Al Gore and one for George W. Bush — in the 2000 presidential election.

Tarlov’s widow, Mike Wittman, declined to comment, saying he has not spoken with Dewald and doesn’t wish to have his family relive the episode of his wife’s death.

A spokeswoman for the city Department of Transportation, Mona Bruno, told The Post, “DOT values crosswalk safety and accessibility in Central Park.

“That’s why we’ve worked over years with the Parks Department to improve roadway management and make crossing easier. 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.

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