It’s Bike to Work week, with the official Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 17. This means more cyclists on the streets of New York City, which we love. And hopefully, after NYC Bike Share officially launches later this month, we’ll have even more people getting around the city more efficiently.
After tweeting out some photos to promote the idea and perhaps encourage and inspire city guys to get on a bike, some followers posed a couple of important questions about getting and arriving to work on a bike with their style unscathed. Here is my video response…
As someone who promotes the virtues of the bicycle as the ultimate mode of city transportation, it is to my advantage to take my own suggestion and not just talk the talk but to also walk the walk. (Or is it ride the ride?)
Last week, I was on my way to a meeting in the West Village on my bike. Unbeknownst to me, New York Roll Models photographer Billy Powers happened to be at the corner of Bank and Bleecker Streets as I rode through the intersection. Armed with his Nikon like any good street photographer, Billy snapped this photo. This morning, he sent it to me.
These days – between security cameras, smartphone cameras, cameras of ubiquitous street style photographers and all the other ones – cameras are everywhere. I’ve often joked that, since cameras are everywhere, we might as well dress for it. As a guy who is the face of a “brand” of sorts, I always make the effort to step out “in character,” as it were. On this particular day, I’m relieved that I was prepared.
Based on Brooklyn Cruiser’s Driggs 3 model, this new ride comes fully featured with a three-speed internal hub, a front hand brake and a rear pedal brake, full front and back fenders, a rear carry rack, a comfortable leather saddle, swept-back handlebars with leather grips, cream-colored tires, and a kickstand. It also has one of my favorite unsung features on smarter city utility bikes: a chain guard, which means no need to wrap your trouser cuffs or stuff them into your socks.
The frame, you will notice, is what is called a “step-through.” To many, this looks like what we’d consider a girl’s bike. It isn’t. In fact, the step-through frame is better for men because we don’t have to stress the seams in the crotch of our nice trousers when we mount and dismount the bike. It’s also easier at stoplights. We don’t have to hoist our leg over the saddle. We just step through.
The bike is available in signature black or a very hot MoMA-exclusive red. The price tag is $580 (or $522 for MoMA members).
This episode comes with Fall, my favorite season in New York City. With this season on the city comes comfortable sidewalk dining, the ability to wear clothes I like and a new venture as Contributor-at-Large for the Brooklyn Cruiser blog (http://www.brooklyncruiser.com/blog). For my latest piece for Brooklyn Cruiser, I took a bike ride over the George Washington Bridge, one of the most spectacular viewpoints of my favorite city.
“Street Life” by The Crusaders feat. Randy Crawford – iTunes | Amazon
It’s no secret to anyone who knows or reads me that I love my bike. It’s my way around town. Upon acquiring a Brooklyn Cruiser last year, everything changed. I sat upright, relaxed my shoulders and took out the headphones, taking in the city around me as I pedaled around town.
One of the best parts of this new bicycling model (at least new for me) was that I no longer needed a separate uniform for taking a ride. In fact, I no longer needed to change clothes at all. A city bike, i.e. a non-racing, Dutch-style bike that allows the rider to sit upright, has a very “ride as you are” je ne sais quoi about it. I ride in suits, jeans, chinos, sneakers, brogues… whatever.
Just when I was about to start exploring aspects of bicycling with style in a new section of this blog, I was approached by Ryan, founder and head honcho over at Brooklyn Cruiser, who graciously invited me on board as “Contributor-at-Large” for the Brooklyn Cruiser blog. I was humbled, floored and honored.
And the timing is perfect.
With all the press about hundreds of miles of added bike lanes and increased ridership in New York City, it sounds like this old-school way of getting around is being embraced as the modern way to maneuver about the metropolis. And with the coming bike share program here in the city, the launch of which has been unfortunately pushed to March, bike lanes and ridership is bound to increase further. It’s an exciting time for urban bicycling, and a great time to be writing about it.
I’m absolutely thrilled about this new adventure as contributor-at-large, and I invite everyone to join me in the dialog at the Brooklyn Cruiser blog, where I plan to share ideas, stories, anecdotes, frustrations, joys, photos and more about the smartest way to get around.
Here is a link to my first post, which was published on August 21st, 2012:
As my friends and readers know, I love my bike. My ride is a Brooklyn Cruiser, which not only gets me around town, but it also turns heads. When someone attractive looks my way, my excitement quickly subsides when I realize they’re admiring the bike.
But the bike is more than just a slick way to get around town. It’s also an amazing money and time saver. I only take a taxi under unusual circumstances, and I can’t remember the last time I bought a MetroCard. And I will confess to acute schadenfreude when I breeze through traffic jams as drivers get more and more frustrated in the congestion. And let’s not discount the calories burned when getting from A to B. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the sexiest way to get around town.
For years, I rode hunched over my bikes, attacking the road with clenched teeth as if I were engaged in a competitive high-speed contact sport. While I sported earbuds mainlining a fantasy chase soundtrack thumping into my ears, a modified scuba suit with ass pads hugging my aerodynamic form and a helmet that looked like it housed an alien brain, the roads were something to be conquered with fervent velocity and aggression. Pedestrians were targets and cars were slalom course obstacles. Patrick Bateman on a bicycle, essentially.
After I got the cruiser, which is a modern ride inspired by vintage Dutch commuter bikes, I became enlightened to a different kind of bicycling in the city. I sat upright and relaxed my shoulders. I slowed down. I stopped wearing the headphones and started to enjoy taking in the city around me. I got it: this was city cycling.
It was precisely this city cycling that stopped me at Hudson Urban Bicycles (HUB) in Greenwich Village several weeks ago. When you’re riding upright on a Dutch city bike with raised handlebars, you can notice things around you. Cruising west along Charles Street, my eye was caught on the NE corner of Charles and Washington by what can only be described as “bike porn.” Two full garage doors and a tiny adjacent parking lot full of commuter bikes, most new, but many of which were lovingly restored vintage bikes from Schwinn and Raleigh.
On the sidewalk lined with bikes in front of the shop stood George Bliss, the owner. He was talking with a customer as he watched me slowly ride by. More accurately… he watched my bike with its signature double-top frame and Brooklyn Cruiser-branded box on the back. I had to stop and take in the exquisite selection at this orgy of city bikes. George and I struck up a conversation about my cruiser and the culture of bike riding in NYC. It was the first time I had met someone who perfectly articulated my newfound thoughts about city cycling, going even further with wiser and more experienced thoughts and ideas on the subject.
Henry David Thoreau famously said “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.” I don’t have a separate set of clothes for bike riding. I ride in suits, chinos, t-shirts, dress shirts, jeans, wingtips or Chuck Taylors. I love wearing a jacket because it has pockets for my phone, a pen and other stuff. In other words… when I ride my bike, I dress like I would anywhere else. Though I often ride for mere pleasure or exercise, my bike also happens to be my main mode of transportation, weather-permitting (above 45ºF and no precipitation). I ride it to business meetings when I’m in a suit and tie. I ride it for exercise in a t-shirt, old chinos and sneakers. (I don’t do shorts in the city. But that’s another story.)
I don’t remember what I was wearing the day I met George in front of HUB, but I must have looked okay since he asked me if I’d be interested in modeling for the bike fashion show at the 2012 New Amsterdam Bicycle Show. It caught me off-guard, but I was flattered and delighted that he asked.
Having never been to the New Amsterdam Bike Show (or any bike show, for that matter), I had no idea what to expect. Under the influence of my Brooklyn Cruiser, its creator Ryan, and George from HUB, I’ve grown to appreciate the benefits and details of the stylish form and the cost/time/calorie cutting function inherent in riding a city bike. The frames, wheels, fenders, saddles, grips and other bike accoutrement at the bike show made for a whole new level of bike porn. I’m thrilled I went and honored to have been asked to participate in the small way I did.
If you’re looking for a life-changing, cost-cutting, time-saving, fat-burning way to get around town in great style, I would encourage you to check out a city bike. Racing and other speedier and more athletic modes of cycling have their place, but I’m not convinced that that place is on city pavement shared by unsuspecting pedestrians and two-ton four-wheel killing machines driven by entitled personalities that are also texting. I would urge you to check out the New Amsterdam Bicycle Show next year. And in the mean time, check out Brooklyn Cruiser (http://www.brooklyncruiser.com/) and the fine offerings for sale and for rent down at Hudson Urban Bicycles (http://hudsonurbanbicycles.com/).
Some of my favorite things at the 2012 New Amsterdam Bicycle Show: