The Most Dangerous Game? Riding a Bike in Manhattan

The Delusional Rant of a Bicycle Weenie, OR Environmentalism in its Most Dangerous Form


Published: September 22, 2010

This year I bought a bike to get around the city. I can’t decide if I’m glad I got it or not. I bought my bike so I could save money on my daily commute to work. I figured I’d be spending at least $700 on MetroCards this year, so buying a $200 bike and avoiding the trains would be a good investment. But now I’m so damn thirsty after riding my bike that I buy a $4 Gatorade after every trip.

There are some perks to riding a bike though. It’s faster than walking and just about as fast as the entire subway process if you include the wait on the platform. It’s fun to travel above ground, parking is easy and I’m getting to know the city. It’s a good way to squeeze a workout into my busy schedule.

Of course there are some cons to riding a bike. For example, you could die. Also, it sucks to not be able to read a book during your commute.

I’ve decided that I hate taxis, more commonly known as “the yellow fever.” Apparently taxis were a major problem in 19th century South America.

Anyway, one night I was riding my bike back to school after work, and a taxi pulled up alongside me at a red light. The driver honked and waved me to the side. One of the drunk guys in the back yelled, “Careful, Helmet Boy!” And then all his friends cheered. I felt like I should have cheered too, but I was sad that my identity had been reduced to a piece of protective headgear. A strange montage flashed through my mind. There was me wearing my helmet in the shower, me wearing my helmet at the grocery store and me writing an essay while wearing a helmet. If I had been in the right state of mind, I probably would have responded with, “Thanks, Taxi Guy!”

That would have been so lame.

Later that week I was biking down Columbus Avenue, changing lanes so I could make a left turn. I looked over my shoulder and the taxi behind me was speeding up when it should have been slowing down. I pedaled faster, and as the taxi got closer, I heard people on the street corner go, “Ohhhhh,” in a united crescendo. I swerved and made the left turn, and the taxi just missed me. Everyone on the street corner cheered.

I also felt like I should have cheered then, but I was scared that everyone was cheering because I was not dead. It’s a strange feeling when not dying qualifies as a performance. I imagined a marquee in Times Square exclaiming, “Helmet Boy Survival. The hit summer musical is back!”

Ironically, I decided that if I ever get hit by a car, I would want to get hit by a taxi. I plan on being a martyr for all the other Helmet Boys. I would sue the city for improperly educating their drivers, and then there would be a Broadway musical about me. They would name a bike path after me and bicycle-taxis would become the dominant form of drunken transportation. I realize that this has become a delusional rant. I apologize to readers. I’ve got a fever, and the only cure is less yellow.

The strangest thing about my entire biking experience is the realization that I’ve become a bicycle weenie. I’ve become one of the bodysuit-wearing, scrawny-armed, beefy-legged fist-shakers that I’ve always laughed at while walking on the bike path. The only difference is that I don’t have a bodysuit, and my legs are just as scrawny as my arms. But the point is that I now understand why those guys are such weenies and why I’ve become one.

We are weenies because cars don’t give us the full rights of the road that we are legally entitled to, and because pedestrians aren’t scared of us the way they are scared of cars. The only way to solve the problem is to have police officers protect biker rights more seriously, or to have bikers carry guns.