standard (UPDATED) Tripped Up in Prospect Park! Family-Man Cyclist Injured by Rope Trap; Motives Unknown

Michael Wilhelm, 45, of Midwood, was injured while riding in Prospect Park (Photo by Matthew Taub)

Michael Wilhelm, 45, of Midwood, was injured while riding in Prospect Park (Photo by Matthew Taub)

UPDATE: We received the following information from Yisroel Pupko: “It’s been confirmed as a crime. The deputy inspector and sergeant were very helpful in getting it switched over.”

A mischievous rope trap in Prospect Park was a local cyclist’s undoing.

The accident scene (Photo by Yisoel Pupko - used with permission)

The incident scene (Photo by Yisroel Pupko – used with permission)

“My friend and I drove to the park with our bikes strapped to the back of the car,” Michael Wilhelm said, laughing. It was all he could do, a Midwood father of five, now indefinitely out of work, saddled with multiple rib fractures and some glaring bruises to the knees and arms.

“I always tell my kids: ‘the streets are dangerous,” Wilhelm said. “‘Use the park, that’s where you’ll be safe.'” He shook his head.

It was a warm night last Tuesday when the 45-year-old real estate manager and a friend decided to go an a recreational bike ride through Prospect Park. Traveling along the designated path, they filled their exercise quota with about four laps when they embarked on one last go-round.


Photo by Matthew Taub

“We had passed through the section near 15th Street and Prospect Park West several times,” Wilhelm said. “Whoever did this acted quickly.”

The rope involved in the "trap" (Yisroel Pupko - used with permission)

The rope involved in the “trap” (Yisroel Pupko – used with permission)

Neither Wilhelm or his friend noticed any changes on the last approach. But before they had time to react, a rope firmly tied across the entire pathway–from a telephone pole on one side to a fire hydrant on the other–caught Wilhelm’s front wheel and sent him flying.

“It could be kids playing a prank, or someone trying to steal a bike,” Wilhelm said. “Honestly, I have no idea. I just want the public to be aware, and be safe.”

Wilhelm’s bicycling companion,  Yisroel Pupko, managed to stop his bicycle in time, avoiding injury. But he’s worried that the police may not be taking the investigation seriously.

“The police listened to our account but wrote ‘bicyclist ran over a rope, causing him to fall.’ This has me worried,” Pupko said. “They downplayed the severity of what happened and the danger to others.”

The "prank" location is a popular spot for all types of recreation enthusiasts.

The “prank” location is a popular spot for all types of recreation enthusiasts. (Photo by Matthew Taub)

The location of the incident is near the southwest corner of Prospect Park, bordering Park Slope. A popular spot for pedestrians, cyclists, and recreational activities of all kinds, Wilhelm worries a similar threat exists for others until the perpetrators are caught.


Though neither Wilhelm nor Pupko noticed the rope until after the incident, another witness told police he saw three suspicious looking individuals standing around the hydrant just minutes before it occurred. The witness provided his information to Pupko and the police.

“Are the police following up on this?” Pupko asked.

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Wilhelm worries that the NYPD’s downplaying of the event in the police report means they are not taking the incident seriously. (NYPD – Via Michael Wilhelm)

The NYPD’s 78th Precinct responded to the incident. We have reached out to them for comment, but have not heard from them as of press time.

  • Veraugh

    Respectfully, the way this article frames the event is problematic:
    “mischievous rope trap”
    “approximate site of the accident location”
    “location of the accident”

    Since the party who set the tripwire appeared to do this intentionally between the rider’s circuits of the park, ‘accident’ is the wrong word to use since there seems nothing accidental about it. And the resulting fractured ribs rises far above the level of ‘mischievousness’ and closer to the level of criminal behavior.

    I wonder how many officers and prosecutors would have been allocated, newsprint consumed, and moral outrage visible if someone had dropped a ‘mischievous’ tire spike strip on Park Slope West and caused a driver to break their ribs from the resulting ‘accidental’ car crash.

    (In fairness, the victim himself is quoted referring to the ‘prank’, which is a word I would not be able to use after I had my ribs broken.)

    • Matthew Taub

      It’s true, I debated between ‘accident’ and ‘incident.’ What happened here certainly seems troublesome. I will be following up with the police–it’s not even clear that they’re classifying this as a crime worthy of investigation.

      • Ben K.

        What made you decide “accident”? Nothing was accidental about this.

        • Matthew Taub

          I have changed it nearly everywhere to “incident.” Was the article otherwise informative? Please let me know if there’s anything else.