I’m Doing the World a Favor

Casey Neistat, a New York comedian, posted a YouTube video that went viral last week. In his video, Neistat is seen receiving a traffic ticket for not riding his bicycle in the bicycle lane. The rest of the video is devoted to a series of slapstick pratfalls that demonstrate Neistat’s point; it is not always safe to always cycle in a New York City bike lane. In his movie he proceeds to crash into cabs, orange construction barrels and finally a police car, all of which are obstructing various bike lanes.

His movie is funny, he makes his point and he certainly gets his fifty dollar ticket’s worth out of the experience, but there are several things about Neistat that could rub you the wrong way. If you happen not to be a cyclist, but rather a motorist, or even just a pedestrian, then personal experience can probably recount numerous encounters with these demon cyclists. These events likely color your opinion of bicyclists in general and Neistat in particular. If you are a cyclist, then the fact that Neistat never wears a helmet probably also colors your opinion. I know that it did mine. Cyclist or not though, when while arguing with the cop, he states that he is doing the world a favor, by riding his bicycle, this statement of arrogance and entitlement, can easily rub someone the wrong way.

Neistat’s video was featured in a segment of Slate’s Cultural Gabfest. It was discussed and critiqued. Like most of their podcasts, listening to this gabfest is like listening in on a conversation between a bunch of some really cool friends. I had already seen the movie, and I regularly follow this podcast, so my interest was piqued. They raised the points that I have already raised, they also made a point about New York City bicycling politics that I’ll relate to you. The current mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has been a great advocate for encouraging urban cycling in the Big Apple. He has closed off Times Square to automotive traffic and installed many bike lanes around town. Until his unfortunate tweet, Anthony Weiner was slated to replace him as mayor. Weiner is not an advocate of cycling and has gone on the record about this. He is purported to have personally threatened Bloomberg with this threat, “First thing that I’m going to do is rip out all those F-ing bike paths.” Slate’s bicycling advocate at the gabfest suggested a suitable response to Weiner, have everybody tweet photos of bike paths to him.

4 thoughts on “I’m Doing the World a Favor

  1. Look at the bicycle path logo upside down sometime. What does it look like to you?

    My main gripe with bicyclists is the not obeying the traffic rules when riding with traffic. Rules help folks predict what the others are likely to do. With bikes, my first assumption is – not stop at a stop light, stop sign, or for stopped traffic.

    As we often say, I am a bike, I’m a car, I’m a pedestrian, no – I am all three.

    Now a legal move that frustrates me is on our 2 lane, one-way street, where they ride in both lanes, instead of just the right lane. It is just the speed thing.

    Enough griping. I do like that so many do ride bikes.

  2. Anne read this post and then we drove off together. At a stop light, I hesitated before finally stopping. Her motto, as then related to me was, in a car always stop when you are suppose to, on a bike never exceed the speed limit, but if you do, be sure to pay and then frame the ticket. 😉

  3. Not to belabor the whole following rules thing, but – after tonights Mariner game, we were waiting at a cross walk with a red Don’t Walk light (like good Seattlites) and a group of about 4-5 people arrived at the crosswalk and just started walking across – as cars started to arrive and try to drive through it. So one of the cars honked. And one of the people stopped in the cross-walk blocking the car, gave them an “I AM IN A CROSS-WALK” look, and then moved on. After we (probably 10 of us) crossed, with the green light, we noticed they were getting out their bike helmets and onto their bicycles.

    Just saying.

  4. Re the upside-down bike path. I see a person’s face, with big eyes or glasses, a nose of stature and character, and one tiny drop of that lovely sweat-snot-sunscreen mixture that flows so freely when I ride in hot weather.


Leave a Reply