26.8.08

Bikers

To bike or not to bike. I've been trying to figure this out. I feel something that makes me not want to be a bicyclist in New York City, but I haven't been able to articulate it. Just some general sense, beyond how many people I know who've been in shitty accidents, that there's a question to ask before I become a city-rider. I can't figure out what it is though. Just a nagging feeling I can't quite get at.

On n+1's website right now, there is an article by Dan Albert, "Take It to the Street: Class Clash on Seventh Avenue," that presents an explanation of the above footage from a Critical Mass event in which rookie officer Patrick Pogan leveled bicyclist Christopher Long.

Hooray for YouTube Justice, but Albert's article, as much as I like the narrative he crafts, leaves me unsatisfied. Here's the thesis:

"Fighting over street space is nothing new. Before the Model T made driving an everyman's game, New York police had little tolerance for the automobile crowd, viewing them as arrogant, wealthy scofflaws who treated the city like their private playground. Now we've entered a different era—a neo-Gilded one in which the wealthy scofflaws ride road bikes, and working-class cops are willing to go outside the law to protect the working-class driver's exclusive ownership of the right of way."

Problem is, Albert goes back and forth as to whether or not class is the issue or not and ends up, I think, undermining everything he says by writing, "The motorless commuter, regardless of his actual class position, has become a symbol of the privilege that comes with prime real estate."

There are problems with this piece. Also Albert never addresses the Brooklyn species of biker who is not a "wealthy scofflaw" but more likely a grungy twenty-something from Williamsburg.

Check out the video and the article. I'll keep thinking on this, maybe I'll come up with something. Until then, I'm staying on my Segway.

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