Quite often I get these emails and texts from people alerting me of an article I should read about cycling. Often it’s from a credited publication like the NY Times so naturally it peaks my interest. Turns out, 9-10 times the op-ed or discussion is about some out-of-touch person who really doesn’t like biking and probably shouldn’t even be writing an article that does nothing for the activity but rather makes cycling hating drivers feel justified for their road rage or cycling enthusiasts defend themselves for their choice of transportation. As one of the laters I often feel obligated to chime in since the article itself is getting attention and it’s my job to help defend cycling. Luckily most of the time the arguments are weak, so my job is made easy. It’s also quite baffling how these people are given the word space, especially with the current state of publishing in the digital age.
I’m actually quite hungry for honest debate about whether cycling is a legitimate form of transportation but instead I get this:
The latest comes from some guy named Daniel Duane from San Francisco who was fortunate to have his opinions published in the New York Times on Sunday.
Is It Ok To Kill Cyclists?
Right away, Duane illustrates my point about being a hater with a description of himself: “SAN FRANCISCO — EVERYBODY who knows me knows that I love cycling and that I’m also completely freaked out by it.”
Ah, that’s funny cause I know a lot of writers on the subject of cycling and somehow, I’ve never heard of you…must be a West Coast thing. Next he says:
Duane: “I got into the sport for middle-aged reasons: fat; creaky knees; the delusional vanity of tight shorts. Registering for a triathlon, I took my first ride in decades.”
I’m not sure a triathlon is the best place to start cycling…seems a bit extreme, how about just going to get a delicious burrito in the Mission or a leisurely cruise across the Golden Gate bridge.
Duane: “Wind in my hair, smile on my face, I decided instantly that I would bike everywhere like all those beautiful hipster kids on fixies. Within minutes, however, I watched an S.U.V. hit another cyclist, and then I got my own front wheel stuck in a streetcar track, sending me to the pavement.”
Yeah it’s called learning how to operate a vehicle, just like when you stalled in traffic on one of those hills trying to learn how to drive a stick shift. Oh the embarrassment.
The rest of this op-Ed goes on to point out how easy it is for cyclists to get killed by automobiles with little or no criminality attributed to the driver. Now being killed by a car for learning how to love cycling is a very hard lesson to swallow.
I don’t want to belabor over the East Coast vs West Coast thing, but really. One of my Co-Author of the book we did as a travel guide for biking in NYC, (bikenycthebook) Marci Blackman would often talk about biking in San Francisco where she lived for a long time. She would say she felt way more safe in NYC and that in SF the drivers have much more space to speed and how cyclists are treated much more as just being in the way. After all, just cause it’s up North and the birthplace of free lovin hippies, it’s still car culture America, California.
Next Saturday (11/23/13) is the amazing charity event known as Cranksgiving. If your curious about trying an alleycat race, this is the one for you. It’s fun, open to all levels and helps NYC’s hungry. You don’t have to be a speed demon, knuckle tattoo fixter.
Here is more from event organizer: Ken Stanek: “This year’s flyer by the supertalented Bruce Doscher / Cycling Posters who I was lucky enough to work with years ago and I somehow convinced to make me a poster. Go check out his stuff. It’s awesome.
Does anyone here not know how Cranksgiving works? You go buy food, and then you donate it. It’s an alleycat. The best one ever. And it happens in 40 or so places this year. Hoboken Hoboken is even having one on November 16th this year.
Sponsors (this list will grow – and if you’re interested in sponsoring, let me know! Flyers haven’t gone to print yet.)
Navigate the streets of the city and the aisles of grocery stores as you search for specific canned goods. Once you’ve collected all your receipts, all of your food will be donated to a local homeless shelter.
Cranksgiving helps feed hundreds of New Yorkers through our charities. This year, as more and more people find themselves in desperate times, Cranksgiving hopes to step it up and smash all previous records.”
Did you miss the Banksy craze of the British graffiti artist that turned NYC into his own gallery for the month of October? The anonymous artist was able to drive trucks around town with fake animals in it…
Plop down animatronic grim reapers in Noho and place a repainted work of art in Housing Works as a donation stunt. (which sold for 615,000 online) A lot of the artists work is more about the stunt and it’s rip on the art world in general, but it did tie directly into the core of graffiti and how it is digested by the public, making an urban environment a public gallery available to all. This seems even more necessary in a world like NYC where artistic culture is being gobbled up and replaced with mundane glass (unaffordable) housing like the case of the Atlantic Yards or 5 pointz unofficial graffiti museum in Long Island City, an on going debate.
The group Right of Way, who has been taking the visual message of unnecessary deaths of pedestrians and cyclists due to reckless driving, recently used Banksy’s attention grabbing residency to send a message of their own, that directly involved New Yorkers.
It was this blogger who designed the artwork, but it was the brave actions of ROW who was able to put this stencil piece up on 178th
where Alexian Lien was maliciously beaten by an angry motorcycle club while members of the NYPD (off duty) stood by and participated in the violence. Not only that, one of the officers was identified as infiltrating Occupy Sandy in order to spy on activist groups. Organizations like Time’s Up, cycling advocacy group, who provide positive things for NYC bikers have also recently been infiltrated by the NYPD. This is the message I wanted to send out while everyone was eagerly waiting to find out where the next Banksy would be. I felt this story was being missed, that while the police are eagerly cracking down on our bike rides and biking in general, they are also finding the time to spy on us and pretend to be actual members of our community. Then when it comes time for them to help us…they don’t blow their covers…and instead join in on the riot-or maybe it’s more about when their isn’t a riot…they create one.
So while outgoing mayor Michael Bloomberg was comenting on Banksy’s art residency saying, “”But look, graffiti does ruin people’s property and it’s a sign of decay and loss of control.” he might have taken a closer look at his own police force, that seems to be the ones out of control.
There is also a 1800 number listed on the stencil (1-800-646-8162) of our fake Banksy with a recorded message that speaks to the issues of police infiltration and lack of suspecting criminality in fatalities caused by motorists.
You won’t be able to find this piece of art, since it was immediately taken down. Probably, judging by the fact that the entire wood was removed instead of painted over, this was the work of someone who wanted to keep the piece.
However, Transportation Alternatives has given our #Cranksy action some recognition and also listed remaining sites of Banksy works with addresses that you can explore by bike as well as the nearest Citibike locations.
And one more note…
Well pedestrians continue to die on the streets due to reckless driving as in the case of two this past weekend (9 year old Derrek Callendar-father of 5, killed in the Bronx) The NYPD was busy arresting people for trying to claim Banksy’s final balloon piece. The Balloon’s were taken into custody as well.
Police Confiscate Banksy Balloons and Say They’re Not Art
Two men, who were later arrested, trying to remove a work by Banksy, the British street artist, in Long Island City, Queens, on Oct. 31. Photo by: Maurice Pinzon
By: Cara Buckley and J.David Goodman
November 5th, 2013
Banksy! is still in police custody — that is, the balloons that spell the British street artist’s name, as well as an exclamation point, are. And they may never get out.
Confiscated by the police from would-be thieves, the inflatable letters, which were Banksy’s parting gift to New York after a monthlong “residency,” have been impounded by the New York Police Department’s property clerk division.
Time to get out those costumes and ride. Time’s Up is having a spontaneous dance party ride tonight:
TONIGHT! Thursday,Oct. 31st @ 7:30
ABC No Rio-156 Rivington
8 o’clock meet-up @ Washington Sq. Park (under the Arch)
Come haunt around on your bike, with or without a costume.
Check out the scary people and dance with the goblins!
*Save the Date*
New Years Eve Bike Ride & After Party
And pledge to Time’s Up:
And just to add to the haunted mood…
Here’s some zombie madness by NYC punk rock legends Sewage, back from the dead. Shot and edited by Dedicated Lanes movie maker and Bike Punk Rocker (Team Spider) Chris Ryan.
Even though some time has passed, I thought it would be important to recap this past weekend since right before Halloween is always chalked full of bike culture here in NYC.
Last Friday (10/25/13) is traditionally the most festive Critical Mass ride of this monthly global phenomenon. Generally the cops tend to back down a little and give the group some room, more in line with the costumed spirit of the ride. Another tradition is the ride ends with the Time’s Up Halloween party/fund raiser, where the bike community gets to dance the night away in costume, often in sweaty donated spaces. This year for logistical reasons the party didn’t happen and I can only imagine with the way things have continued with the NYPD’s hatred of bikes…the ride was probably subdued. It seems worth mentioning this event since Critical Mass is a world wide happening and other cities across the US continue to flourish as well as making Halloween a great time for costumes of riders and their bikes.
Such as the birthplace of this event, San Francisco, where they bring out the sound tree bike contraption:
Was a couple of legendary events. First was the Halloween alleycat race which is one of the longest running messenger style races in NYC.
Now even though I set the gears in motion, the real people to thank for this race are probably hanging out with you right now grabbing a coffee before riding to work. Without our community none of us could do what we do well and with all we have.
Many many thanks to Dagga BeMe, Victor Ouma, Cheylene Sharkeye, Hiromi Bruni, Josh Rovner, Greg Ugalde, Krys Blakemore and Nicholas Chatfield-Taylor.
Every single one of these people put themselves and their skills into this race.
Lastly but not leastly, I want to thank the Sponsors who shipped out or gave up a few grand worth of goodies in under three weeks.
State Bicycles gets the biggest thanks for being our title sponsor.
718 Cyclery, Clementine Courier, Fyxation, Harvest Cyclery, Cinelli, Bern, Boombotix
52 Racers Entered 32 finished it alive… one zombie slipped through by finding me in my room during the after party, Crazy Nick is your DFL champion. I’m amazed that many people finished this hard ass race.
Until next year gals and ghouls,
Race winner Josh Rovner ”
This year the race ended at the annual Bike Kill hosted by Black Label and celebrating its 10 year anniversary of mutant bike mayhem.
Photos, Video: Exuberant Bike Kill Turns Ten, Gets Shut Down Early (Photo by: Tod Seelie)
The tenth annual Bike Kill rumbled into Bed-Stuy Saturday afternoon, bringing music, wet tennis balls and lots of modified bicycles to a dead end street in front of P.S. 54.
The party was as raucous as ever (key bumps in broad daylight? Why not!) despite the ominous shadow of an NYPD helicopter hovering above Sandford Street, but it came to an abrupt end without the usual night-time tall bike jousting. At 6:01 p.m. sharp, NYPD officers moved in and ordered everyone to disperse; one organizer told us that the permit issued this year had an earlier end-time than previous Bike Kills, which usually ran until 8.
Another source said there was there was no tall bike jousting this year in remembrance of a Black Label member who recently passed away. A ghost bike memorial was prominently displayed in his honor. In the end, the NYPD dispersal order was respectfully obeyed, and many of the participants grabbed plastic bags to help clean up the mess.
Update: Here’s some fun video of the festivities, courtesy Maks Suski:
Then on Sunday (10/27/13)
Was the launch of a new Pop-Up bike repair cooperative in Havemeyer Park called the Bikeyard.org This is the brain child of Austin Horse and Keegan Stephan and shares the space of the new dirt track across from the demolishing Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (Kent Ave, between South 3rd and 4th St)
Volunteers are encouraged to become yearly members for either $80.00 or 10 hours of service to Haveymeyer park. To use the space and tools for bike repair or to become mechanics themselves to fix other’s bikes.
UK street artist Banksy has had quite a run in his October residency in NYC. Carbon polluting to send a message about eating animals…I guess.
and fairly accurate complaint of New York rising to the level of mediocre in it’s generic design of new Freedom Tower, while slowly destroying the real culture of this city’s uniqueness. Could be a healthy argument of the terrorists winning.
This was just seen on 178th street in Washington Heights at the site where Alexian Lien was pulled out of his SUV and beaten while a few undercover cops (members of the motorcycle club involved in the assault) not only stood by but also participated in the violence.
Banksy or another group finally capitalizing on this “Eyes-of-the-World” moment to send a more important and localized message about NYPD infiltration into activist groups that do way more to help New Yorkers than the cops?
You haven’t really experienced #bikenyc Halloween until you’ve gotten your costume caught in your chain while playing cat-and-mouse from the NYPD during the monthly critical mass. Or put on your ghoul make-up and raced in live frightening traffic at one of the longest running Alleycat races…or tried to maneuver one of Black Label’s contraptions over a pile of dirty mattresses that have been puked on like your likely to find at BikeKill.
Well it’s time to see if you can bike in that slutty nurse outfit and hit the road, because the Halloween fun on a bike starts today. 10/25/13.
Here is a rundown:
Reduced in numbers, but not forgotten is the monthly critical mass ride in Manhattan. This is always a festive one with participants ride in costume. Don’t worry about those guys dressing in cop uniforms. They have no originality.
7:00 Union Square North. Route determined by the group. Democracy in motion.
Start off with a piece of NYC messenger lore…one of the longest running alleycats around. Test your street skills in open traffic and ride with other speed demons. Here are details from Urban Cyclist Worldwide.
Halloween 2013 NYC Alleycat
Organized By: Pablo Airaldi
-5 points in order.
-No games, all speed.
when the sun goes down, the danger begins.
This race ends at a festival of mutant bike mayhem known as Bike Kill, hosted by the Black Label Bike Club. This year is the 10 year anniversary of this gathering of local bike clubs who compete in playful acts of skill, riding various contraptions of bicycle mutation, like tall bikes, choppers and a few things rigged with dildos. New comers welcome and participation is highly encouraged except for the pinnacle of the event, the tall bike jousting which is generally reserved for the experienced or demented. Bikes will be Killed at the dead end road behind the Home Depot in Williamsburg Brooklyn:
Willoughby Avenue and Stanford Street.
Gothamist had a posting on this as well along with some other kickoff Halloween events: here.
Then there will be an after party nearby at the chicken hut with Black Label’s own:
For a fun family event, WeBike is hosting a ride at 1:00pm through Prospect Park on Saturday (10/26/13)
Join us for a light-hearted, family friendly, Fall frolic in the park! Kids and cyclists of all levels welcome, costumes encouraged!
WE will meet at 11AM, at 9th Street and Prospect Park West, ride a loop-and-a-half around the park at a slow, comfortable pace, and then end at the Grand Army Plaza Farmer’s Market, where WE will indulge in some seasonal cider, donuts, caramel apples, and other goodies of a fall nature. If you’d like to show off your costume some more, WE will head over the Ghouls and Gords Festival Festival at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens around 1pm after our picnic.
Admission to Ghouls and Gourds is $10, but ride with us for free!
Keegan Stephan has being doing amazing things for cyclists in NYC.
Occupy Wall Street, providing bike generated electrical power and relief with Occupy Sandy, Volunteer Mechanic with Times Up, deliveries on Cargo bikes, hosting bicycle radio programs, organizing rides and garden clean ups…just to name a few activities.
Recently he’s been involved with Right of Way and is about to open a community bike repair garden space in Brooklyn-Bikeyard.org (more on that later)
Tonight he will be speaking about his activities and the rise of bike culture at a discussion, part of new pop-up news room space. This is a project created by New York Magazine and NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.
Then head over to the Streetsball, a benefit for Streetsblog and Streetfilms.
The bike sharing in NYC, now in its fourth month. has created new levels of bicycle acceptability. Like getting married.
From the New York Times:
In Sickness and in Health, Long After the Bike Is Due Back
By: Matt Flegenheimer
October 11th, 2013 After marrying in June, Christie and Sean Hutchinson took the subway to Midtown for a day of sightseeing, then rode home to the financial district on Citi Bikes. Photo by: Gosia Labno
For years, the rise of cycling in New York City has sown disharmony.
There have been aggrieved cabbies, community meetings at which the Bloomberg administration was likened to the Taliban, and at least one seminude demonstration against a Lower Manhattan bike hub.
But now, four months into its first dalliance with a bike share program, the city appears ready to settle down.
Before you can get married on your CitiBike you need to be social. This Friday you get your chance:
–NYC Biketrain presents:
Nighttime Bridge Ride with Citi Bike — October 18th, 2013
Join NYC Biketrain and Citi Bike on the evening of Friday, October 18, for another social ride.
Led by the friendly, experienced urban cyclists of NYC Biketrain, and in partnership with Citi Bike, take a fun ride over the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges on a gorgeous fall evening. This is great chance to discover the fun of riding by night and take in the city night. After the ride, we’ll recovene to enjoy a post-ride beer ($1 off for bridge riders) and some giveaways from Citi Bike. RSVP below.