In which some guy on a folding bike endeavors to tell us all how to ride a bike in New York City:
Lessons For the Novice New Yorker: Biking from Ethan H. Minsker on Vimeo.
The film opens with someone who failed out of Tuvan throat singing school drumming on his thigh and intoning the word "biking:"
Then we see our instructor and protagonist wearing a bright blue Beacon of Insecurity:
You can wear whatever you want on your head, but I refuse to take urban cycling advice from someone who's wearing a helment. Come on, all he's doing is riding a folding bike around Manhattan! I want my New York City cycling instructor to have a bit more savoir faire than that. This is like taking gardening tips from someone who's wearing a full beekeeping suit just to prune his begonias.
Then he explains the bike path "hierarchy," which is not a hierarchy at all and really just a list of people who annoy him:
There is a hierarchy on the bike path. Those who own fixed gear bikes think they are oh so cool.
It's very hard to imagine that in 2015 anybody who's riding a fixed-gear bike in New York City still thinks they're cool unless they moved here less than three months ago. Also, what about people who play string instruments?
Next he complains about the delivery cyclists:
Delivery food bikers can't drive, are reckless, many times drive motorized bikes that you can't even hear coming up behind you...
Which he illustrates by showing various delivery cyclists doing absolutely nothing wrong except carrying delicious food:
Hey, I'll admit delivery cyclists can be annoying, but I find food vendors who walk their carts in the bike lane to be far more irritating:
Though like the delivery cyclists it's hard to imagine an alternative, and in both cases I'm not sure you can have gastronomic convenience without at least some degree of annoyance. In fact, in many ways I'd argue it's the complex interplay of convenience and annoyance that defines New York. Want cuisine from every corner of the globe delivered to your home or office within minutes? Someone's gonna ride a bike on the sidewalk. Want tasty halal food every three feet? Someone's gonna drag a goddamn cart down the street.
I hate to say it, but I'm beginning to think the concept of protected bike lanes may not be viable, at least in Manhattan below Central Park. Maybe they should just scrap the whole "bike lane" concept and designate them as "high-occupancy pedestrian lanes" instead. Then we can just surrender them to people pushing hand trucks and food carts and wheelie suitcases. I mean, that's what's happening anyway, so why keep letting us down by painting pictures of bicycles on them?
But as far as the different types of cyclists, our instructor has the harshest words for people who ride Citi Bikes:
Citi Bikes are the bane of the biking society.
No. People who call cycling "biking" are the bane of the biking society. Also, the guy above is definitely a seasoned city cyclist regardless of what he's riding. Check out the plastic on his hands! Either he's keeping his hands warm, or he's a germaphobe who doesn't want to catch Ebola from the bike share, or both--and whichever it is that's a highly resourceful solution.
So what's wrong with those Citi Bikers anyway?
They are slow, novice, and many times tourist.
He should have sung that to the tune of "Three Times a Lady."
They follow no rules, they bike in pairs, blocking both lanes, many of the times the bikes don't even work well...
I'm fairly certain it's legal to ride two abreast (or "in pairs") in New York City, and why is it the riders' fault that the bikes don't work well? Also, as he says this the film shows the Citi Bike rider above, who expertly passes the shuttle bus on its right as it drifts into the bike lane to make a left-hand turn. That is a pro city cycling move, and it only comes from years of experience. The "slow, novice, and many times tourist" would have stayed in the bike lane and fallen victim to a "left hook."
Granted as a Citi Biker myself I may be a bit sensitive here, but if you're going to make fun of them at least find one being a complete doofus.
It's not that hard.
As for the instructor himself:
I have a folding bike. That makes me a "nerd biker."
Actually, that's not true. Everybody who rides a bike is a nerd. Technically speaking, if you ride a folding bike you're a circus bear:
Get it right.
Then he moves on to the pedestrians:
If you are a pedestrian, stay out of the bike lane.
That's not a bike lane.
You step into the bike lane, you are risking your own life.
True, but the instructor is starting to sound like one of those victim-blaming drivers.
Do not stand at the crosswalk in the bike lane.
Note that the pedestrian has the light:
Yet our instructor rides right into him:
I was wondering why the guy he hit didn't immediately punch him in the face, but then I re-watched the whole "pedestrians suck" sequence and realized the people in it were plants. Moreover, they were the same plants. First we see them here:
And finally here:
So he basically scripted a scene which completely undermines his entire point.
Now that's good filmmaking.
Then again, according to our instructor, pedestrians should understand that red lights are "only a suggestion:
Red lights are only a suggestion to stop. When biking in New York, you will go through as many red lights as you can as long as there is no police officer in sight.
I almost might have bought this if he hadn't just RUN A RED LIGHT AND CRASHED INTO A PEDESTRIAN.
Wearing a helmet is highly suggested.
See that? He's wearing a helment, so he thinks that makes everything he does okay.
And that's my problem with helments.
Still, as problematic as this video is, it wasn't nearly as disturbing as this video of him in the tub:
I hope he's wearing his helment.
Lastly, speaking of cycling in New York City, here's a puzzling exchange:
We Chatted About Your Bike On The Train - w4m - 25 (Q Train Manhattan to Brooklyn)
Never done this before but why not give it a try? Your name was Micah and we chatted on the train from 57th street back to Queens. I was impressed with your ability to stick it out with your bike in the snow. You have lovely blue eyes and I wish I could get a chance to tell you that in person. If by chance you see this, please reply and mention the two diners we talked about. Thanks for reading this and to the romantics out there, keep your fingers crossed for me. -Katie
If he's riding the subway then he's really not sticking it out with his bike in the snow, now is he?
If she's looking for that then she should date one of those food delivery guys.
It's hard to watch those guys tough it out in a snowstorm and then get mad at them for riding on the sidewalk.