This wheel’s on fire — Cyclones’ unicyclist sues city for $3M over wrongful tickets

This wheel’s on fire — Cyclones’ unicyclist sues city for $3M over wrongful tickets
Photo by Bess Adler

Call it a uni-bombshell.

The Brooklyn Cyclones’ juggling unicycle-riding vendor Kyle Peterson is suing the NYPD for $3 million after cops ticketed him twice for riding his one-wheeled wonder on a Classon Avenue sidewalk — even though it’s legal to do because the law doesn’t consider the unicycle a bicycle.

But the precedent-setting uni-lawsuit — which Peterson’s attorney filed on Nov. 15 — isn’t about the money, revenge or even Peterson himself. It’s about ending unnecessary summonses against unicyclists forever.

“And if you were to sue for $5,000, it would have no effect on future illegal summonses,” said Peterson’s lawyer, Paul Hale. “The only way to stop the city’s blatant and illegal activity is by going for the pocketbook.”

The one-wheeled drama started on Dec. 4, 2007, when Peterson was riding home near Madison Avenue at 3 am, according to court documents. Two plainclothes detectives stopped him in an unmarked car, detained him “for approximately 30 minutes in the dead of winter,” allegedly taunted him by singing circus music, then ticketed him for riding a bicycle on the sidewalk.

Apparently, the cops didn’t realize that city law defines a bike as a two- or three-wheeled riding apparatus. As such, Peterson’s case was quickly dismissed at a hearing.

But on Nov. 2, cops again ticketed Peterson on Classon Avenue after they noticed him unicycling on the sidewalk.

“I told the cops that I’d been through this before and that unicycling on the sidewalk is completely legal,” Peterson said on Monday.

But Peterson’s educational outreach blew up in his face — with no other way to summons him, the cops wrote him up for disorderly conduct instead, court papers show.

Peterson is retaining a lawyer for that case, too, and says the “bogus” charge will likely be dismissed as well. But he’s had enough with the summonses — not only because the unicycle is his main mode of transportation, but also because riding on a small, slow, one-wheeled vehicle in the street isn’t safe.

Then again, if anyone could be secure on a one-wheeled vehicle, it is Kyle Peterson. For several years, the rolling legend has entertained crowds at MCU (formerly Keyspan) Park in Coney Island by juggling while bouncing on his pedal-powered vehicle. Now, Peterson is as much a symbol of the Cyclones as Sandy the Seagull or Wally Backman kicking dirt on an umpire’s shoes.

Cops with the 78 Precinct — which issued both summonses — did not return calls by our wheelie strict deadline.