Dressed for work, I pedaled at a leisurely pace up a very busy 6th Avenue at the height of the congested work day. I wanted to see how hard/easy/fast/slow the bicycle felt as a legit way to commute around midtown. Even though there is no protected (or even designated) bike lane on 6th or 5th Avenues in midtown, I managed to blow past cars stuck in traffic, getting where I needed to go, without breaking a sweat in my lowest gear, observing all traffic signals and cycling with courtesy and respect. We all know that bicycles create a minimal physical footprint and a non-existent carbon footprint, unlike cars or, especially, SUVs. On the bike, I’m getting to my destination more efficiently, inexpensively, in a better mood and several calories lighter. The car-in-the-city model is expensive, dangerous, spatially inefficient, impractical, dirty and broken. With the population of New York City expected to increase by another million in the next couple of decades, the time is ripe for change if NYC is going to catch up to other European cities as a more livable city. Better buses, better subways, better bike lanes = better city living.
After a witchy winter, spring has sprung, including a little flirtation with 80º F earlier in the week. With the warmer weather come shorts and flip-flops, about which I have some definite feelings I express in this episode. And though I did enjoy the time with my partner-in-crime at this year’s New York International Auto Show, I discuss the vanilla experience of the show overall, which exhibited fleets of boring-looking luxury cars, stripped of all character and sex appeal and in desperate need of design CPR. Also on my mind, and on the radar of media/entertainment reporters lately, is Aereo, a brilliant (and affordable) service that provides live broadcast television over the internet to computers, iPads, iPhones, and the Roku. It’s a beautiful disruption to the stale broadcast and cable subscription models that has networks and cable providers really pissed. And finally… just when you think you’re going to learn something new in a magazine or on a blog about getting the perfect shave, just remember: you’re not. It’s all been said before, and there is nothing new to say or learn. (But it won’t stop me from writing my own “definitive” piece on getting the perfect shave. Stay tuned for that nonsense.)
Thanks for listening!
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.
Coat: Tan wool topcoat from H&M
Gloves: Black leather gloves from J.Crew
Suit: Gray Tasmanian Wool jacket and pants from Uniqulo
Tie: Blue silk knit tie from The Tie Bar
Shirt: Mini gingham button down from Lands’ End Canvas
Socks: Navy Over-the-Calf wool from Gold Toe
Shoes: Preston Wing tips from J.Crew
Bike: Driggs 3 from Brooklyn Cruiser
Earlier this year, I was approached by George Bliss, owner of Hudson Urban Bicycles, about an ongoing project he was working on with photographer Billy Powers. The idea was to photograph New York cyclists who bring a certain grace to the affair. They are not athletes or daredevils. Not models, either. Just regular New Yorkers who, basically, make riding a bike look good and accessible for anyone who wants to just ride. The project was called New York Roll Models.
New York Roll Models is a celebration of stylish New Yorkers and their bicycles. In a cycling culture drunk on the influences of the racing world, New York Roll Models is also an effort to promote a “lead by example” expression of civilized bicycling in the city as a viable (and stylish) means of transportation or pure enjoyment, without the need of any special gear or any dangerous speed-freak’s sense of hurried entitlement. It partially aims to re-define what it means to ride a bike in the city. In the words of George Bliss…
However, a serious, sensible, and more dignified bike culture is rising. “New York Roll Models” celebrates New Yorkers who are pioneering a practical, elegant style of cycling. Creating a bike culture that has the power to attract the mainstream.
Though photographer Billy Powers hasn’t been on a bicycle in decades (we’re working on him), he is an endearing character and positively enamored with the image of a real New Yorker enjoying a pedal on an upright bicycle. A Bill Cunningham for stylish cyclists, if you will. The photographs speak for themselves, and I’m honored to have been selected as one of his subjects. This photo he shot of me in front of Lincoln Center is one of my favorite photographs ever taken of me.
At the end of the day, bicycling is for everyone. Best to simply enjoy it… with a little New York savoir faire, of course.
For great photos and stories of stylish New York bicyclists and to read George Bliss’s brilliant “manifesto” of what it’s all about, visit and share newyorkrollmodels.com.
This piece was originally published on the Brooklyn Cruiser blog.