Bike Lames! Straw Men on 10-Speeds in New York's Last Culture War

Eben Weiss grew up in the Rockaways, and like many suburban kids, he misspent his youth riding bikes, BMX in particular. He still rides in road races, and did a stint as a bike messenger in Manhattan, but he also has a healthy appreciation for cars, having come of age a New York driver.

“Some people may say, ‘Oh, bike lanes, they want to sissify the city, you can’t handle it, and all these transplants are coming,'” Mr. Weiss said. “For all of that, I’m sure you have people who just don’t want people coming into their neighborhood and messing around with it.”

Mr. Weiss has been chronicling the foibles of the city’s cycling culture for the past four years at Bike Snob NYC, an anonymous blog up until last year, when he outed himself to promote a book of the same name. He believes a good deal of the responsibility lies with cyclists, especially for doing a poor job of selling themselves, not only to others but to each other.

“The mistake the cycling advocates make is pushing the fact that cycling is green,” Mr. Weiss said. “And the problem with that is during a time like now, when there are much more pressing concerns, like people are out of work and all this stuff, the last thing you want to worry about is being green. Being green is sort of a luxury.

“Or David Byrne,” he continued. “I have huge respect for him, but he’s become like the poster child for cycling in New York. I’m a writer for a living, and an English major in college. And I look at David Byrne as the example I should follow? I can’t relate to this guy. He lives in a loft on the West Side and bikes to a studio he works in on the West Side and he can cycle back and forth. Good for him.”

As for Mr. Byrne, the former Talking Heads frontman
and longtime New Yorker, he is happy to be lumped in with the Lycra-wearing masses.

“Yeah,” he emailed, “riding a bike as a way of getting around isn’t a super-macho thing, is it? Other cities around the world have absorbed it into their culture–and I dare anyone to call the Vikings and the Latin-Americans sissies.”

mchaban [at] | @mc_nyo

Bike Lames! Straw Men on 10-Speeds in New York's Last Culture War