NYC (wild) life

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Urban bikers (accidental and not)

There are five main categories of bikers in NYC, or at least in my mind. (Language purists prefer to call those passionate about a two-wheeled non-engine vehicle ‘cyclists’ to avoid any confusion with those passionate about a two-wheeled engine vehicle, but alas, daily life is far from “pure” so, I will call them bikers.)

The cool bikers: Persons who spend their life on a bicycle mainly because of work. Or vice versa, persons who choose certain jobs, e.g. delivery, so that they can spend their work day on a bicycle. The cool bikers are those who swish right past you with the lightness of a night dress. You hardly hear them, you see them when they have already pedaled away, often carrying piles of ware stacked in their backpacks. They are the ones who negotiate traffic with grace, let alone dexterity. In one word, they are cool.

The work bikers: Delivery men (never saw a lady), mainly Latinos, carrying those baskets full of mysterious food to New Yorkers comfortably curled up at home on their couches. Very skilled and solid bikers, but not as cool as the previous group, they are the only ones biking in the snow!

The accidental bikers (a): They are mainly tourists riding rented bicycles. They occupy the whole bike lane, riding parallel to one other and trying to snatch a memorable picture or shoot a video with their phone. They occasionally ride without holding the handlebars because they are on vacation; they are lighthearted and mainly have no idea of New York City traffic or (unwritten) riding rules.

The accidental bikers (b): New Yorkers who occasionally bike instead of taking the subway also fall into this category, but with slightly different nuances. They sprint right past you, ostentatiously standing while pedaling, just to get worn out a few meters farther, because they do not bike regularly. They feel good about themselves for being on a bicycle and they show it.

The honest bikers: A sort of in-between category. They are not as cool as the cool bikers, but not as clueless (or dangerous) as the accidental bikers. These are the people who bike regularly and have chosen a bicycle as their primary means of transportation (can you blame them, considering the status of the NYC subways?), but they lack the expertise, grace or guts of the cool bikers and the work bikers.

The fake bikers: Those who ride electric bicycles and claim the right to use (or misuse) the bike lane. Many of them are delivery men (again, I never saw a lady) for Asian restaurants and often bike—I swear—with a cigarette dangling from their lips!

I am an honest biker. You?

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