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.