Lance doesn't have to deal with peds, is all I'm saying.
July 15, 2004 8:35 AM   Subscribe

Drag Race Ride through the streets of Manhattan with some of the fastest urban bicyclists in existence as they race in the wintertime. Thrilling and unbelievable. The mpg is from a head mounted camera worn by one of the racers. More here. Also don't miss the cameraman riding on top of a Jersey barrier here. And here I was thinking that Times Square to Park Slope in 25 minutes was pretty quick. Thanks to nervous.net.
posted by n9 (33 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
What do those big black & white stripes on the road mean, anyway?
posted by dash_slot- at 8:58 AM on July 15, 2004


Further proof as to why my least favorite vehicle on the road is the aggresively ridden bicycle. I used to think their justification for being such dangerous vehicles was their assumption that they could follow either the traffic laws of pedestrians or vehicles. It's one thing to test your physical limits and to have a "need for speed." It's another to do it in a largely populated area where you could cause serious injury to random people.
posted by kcalder at 9:39 AM on July 15, 2004


I'm with kcalder. These people are nuts and dangerous. Thanks for the links, though.
posted by dobbs at 10:04 AM on July 15, 2004


I've been wondering for several years now why someone doesn't start an "urban single-track" series, complete with a few parking-garage climbs, some stair runs, curb hops, etc... not that I'm in any way competent to ride in one -- I just think it would be cool.
posted by lodurr at 10:11 AM on July 15, 2004


Great links, huge files. I think I'm gonna be downloading these for a while.

I love to ride really fast through the city, it's much more exciting than riding on the open road.


(Oh and by the way, Lance and the rest of the riders in the TDF, do have to deal with peds. They're all over the damn road. One caused Armstrong to crash last year when his bars got caught on a shopping bag. In 1975, an onlooker actually assaulted cycling legend Eddie Merckx, probably costing him his sixth TDF win. It's actually a major part of the race, is all I'm saying.)
posted by emptyage at 10:35 AM on July 15, 2004


The people riding like this are complete and total jerks that should be arrested. Bicycles are supposed to follow the rules of the road, not act as if they are above them.

I can't tell you how many times I've told a non-cyclist I ride and then they launch into a tirade about people riding in packs, running red lights, not signaling, running stopsigns, etc.

As cyclists we need to assert our rights in relation to cars and pedestrians. Riding around like it is anarchy just makes cars that much less likely to respect the rights of law abiding cyclists. Also, as others have said, a pedestrian could get very hurt.

As to the big black and white stripes, those indicate an anti-gridlock zone. If you get caught in that intersection when your light is red, you face a very expensive ticket.
posted by jester69 at 10:41 AM on July 15, 2004


no doubt the riders in the video are *nuts* and dangerous but geez, they're NYC bike messengers for crying out loud.

Seems to me in order to make any money you have to be fast and fearless. I used to ride through dense traffic here in San Francisco and had many near-misses with busses, cars, peds, etc. It's fun for sure and quite an andrenaline rush but last year when I became a father the realization that riding like that greatly increased my chances of major injuries and death hit me and I stopped.

I still go fast but now wear a helmet, stick to bike lanes and generally abide by traffic laws.

As for Lance and other pro cyclists - watch any mountain stage and you'll see that peds/spectators are often all over the course and only get out of the way at the last possible second before either the cyclist or motorcycle carrying the cameraman runs them over. It's beautiful :)
posted by birdsong at 11:00 AM on July 15, 2004


My friend works with a guy who likes to hassle cyclists with his van, threatening to run them off the road. "They're supposed to be on the sidewalk," he yells.

Personally I think I'm probably more scrupulously obedient to traffic laws when I'm on my bike than I am behind the wheel (at least on the bike I'm less likely to break posted speed limits). When cyclists obey the laws they share with drivers they make their actions more predictable. Considering the injuries even a simple dooring can cause, this is very important.
posted by Songdog at 11:02 AM on July 15, 2004


andrenaline=adrenaline
posted by birdsong at 11:02 AM on July 15, 2004


I wouldn't shed a tear for idiots like this when they finally come across a door with their name on it.

And cyclists wonder why people hate them.
posted by bshort at 11:20 AM on July 15, 2004


That's kind of funny, jcalder. While I see your point, statistics simply do not show that bikes are anywhere as dangerous as cars and trucks in NYC. Not overall and not per-bike vs. per-auto. As in not even close. So you should realign your least favorites back to the auto.

And speaking as a moderately law-abiding NYC bicyclist (I run reds when there is no one coming, sorry, I just do) I can attest to the fact that the biggest danger to Manhattan bikers are pedestrians. Pedestrians that are jaywalking, peds that walk against the light, peds that are jaywalking down a one way looking the wrong way, peds that look right at you and step in front of you. Peds that drag their three years olds out into traffic when they do not have the light. Peds that jaywalk in a single file line across a busy street. Peds break a million more laws a day than bikers do and that is something that I don't think anyone will argue with. I've had more near misses when swerving to avoid jaywalkers than with autos by a long shot. So there.
posted by n9 at 11:21 AM on July 15, 2004


My little bro hangs out with some bike messenger types, and apparently they believe that having more than one gear on your bike is some sort of sacrilege. Having the right bag is very important too.

They do live in Columbus OH though, so I can't imagine that they're all that hardcore.
posted by crumbly at 11:26 AM on July 15, 2004


These guys are incredible. I ride my bike in city traffic every day, but no way could I squeeze through some of those tight spaces between buses and cabs. Also, I'm chickenshit over getting doored.

That said, what are you drivers so worried about? If you hit one of these guys, he's the one who pays the price, not you. (And don't tell me you're worried about a lawsuit; these bikers couldn't afford the lawyer.)

My guess is the only reason drivers bitch about cyclists like this is they're jealous the two-wheelers are actually moving faster than the cars. I've had drivers yell and throw things at me when I passed them legally in a bike lane.

Which raises a question: Where are the bike lanes in NYC? If the city provided a place for riders, more of them would adhere to the law.

On preview: I agree with N9 (and, yeah, I run reds, too). But I'm more apt to give peds a break, because the city belongs to pedestrians, not vehicles.
posted by sixpack at 11:26 AM on July 15, 2004


All of this bike messenger discussion reminds me of this documentary (IMDB)(Director). It provides some incite into the egos and attitudes of the messengers, the taxi drivers, and some other locals as well. I would recommend it.
posted by Rattmouth at 11:55 AM on July 15, 2004


Wow! Those vids are great! Makes me want a helmet cam. I've always wanted to be a bike messenger in NYC or SF (and no, I'm not some live fast kind of nut. Not in the least, actually). I used to bike to work in SF and it was pretty hardcore, particularly in the CBD, at certain times. I wasn't nearly as aggressive as the guys in the video, but I did have my fair share of close calls and occasional dings, even when obeying the law, which I do 90% of the time. In general, I try to only break the law of the road when it will prevent me from being broken or dismembered.

I'm actually celebrating a year of biking to work. Only drove twice due to dentist appts.
posted by shoepal at 12:37 PM on July 15, 2004


My friend works with a guy who likes to hassle cyclists with his van, threatening to run them off the road. "They're supposed to be on the sidewalk," he yells.

Not in NYC. See New York City Traffic Rules and Regulations: "Driving bikes on sidewalks is prohibited unless sign allows or wheels are less than 26 inches in diameter and rider under 14 years of age."

Where are the bike lanes in NYC?

Here is Map of NYC bike routes. Dedicated bike lanes are too few and far between.
posted by andrewraff at 12:49 PM on July 15, 2004


I ride - and not drive - in Los Angeles, and certainly avoid walking if I can help it.

Cyclists often must break normal traffic laws simply to survive in urban traffic. That's not a free license to be an insan-o anarchy clown on two wheels with no regard for anyone else, though.

But if there's a choice between running a stop or a red and getting flattened by a bus/SUV/econobox, which are you going to take? Do you choose legally riding in traffic? Or hugging the curb and riding in the gutter like a lost babe in the city, just waiting to get speared on a door, thwacked with a mirror, or sprawled over some idiot's hood that doesn't understand that the white line is where you stop, not 10 feet beyond it.

Bikes absolutely should not be mixed with ped traffic. I can run 15-20 MPH on fat tires and flat land and break 30-45 on downhills. City planners need to realize this and make more single-use bikeways and lanes. (Thanks, San Francisco, just for starters!)

I'm exceedingly nice to most drivers. I stop to let drivers in driveways so they can safely exit traffic and clear the road. I let cars merge in front of me if they signal, even if it means losing momentum or sucking tailpipe fumes.

However, many times urban cyclists will take calculated risks when someone in a car is being stupid, disrespectful or unobservant to get them to wake up and pay attention.

Risks like pulling out in front of a slow-moving but totally inattentive driver, busy with cell phone, make up, food, whatever. What? You're pissed off 'cause you're startled by us because you weren't paying attention to the road?

Imagine how it makes the cyclist feel when he sees you piloting that multi-ton bucket of rust and fumes with little regard for the teeming life all around you.

Those "Holy Crap!" moments are often intentional on the part of cyclists. Cyclists are generally hyper-aware of traffic flow, where everyone is and where everyone is apparently going. The message is supposed to read "Wake up and pay attention, damnit! You move like pregnant yak!"

Another thing to remember is that many of these cyclists are riding because they feel it's the right thing to do. The right thing to do to stay in shape. The right thing to do to avoid making as much pollution as possible. The right thing to do to reduce dependence on foreign oil. It's patriotic, damnit. You might call me a hippy, but if you're driving an outsized SUV or other gas-guzzler without a damn valid reason, I'm going to call you a traitor.

And I'm doing it not just for me, but my nieces and nephews. And your kids, and their kids. And you.

Drivers, be nice to cyclists. They're often riding high on endorphins and muzzy-headed from smog.

Cyclists, be nice to drivers. They have no idea what quicksilver is or what it means to be lightning, or how abnormal their rattling, unelegant claptraps are to you.

The video finally downloaded. Those guys are just insane, and have little resemblance with the "sane" riding I describe above. I have no idea how the guy with the camera threads some of those gaps. I'm pretty sure my pedals would hang on a bumper. Great video though.
posted by loquacious at 12:52 PM on July 15, 2004


The guy with old school the Colnago cap (appx 5:39 - 5:41 in the first video) has what appears to be a La Vie Claire LS jersey on but I'm not quite sure, any other cycling buffs know what that jersey/jacket is? If it is in fact a La Vie Claire, then I vote him best dressed.
posted by m@ at 1:00 PM on July 15, 2004


That said, what are you drivers so worried about? If you hit one of these guys, he's the one who pays the price, not you. (And don't tell me you're worried about a lawsuit; these bikers couldn't afford the lawyer.)

Lawsuit? Wtf? So you could just splat a cyclist and get on with your day/life, I suppose. Also, what makes you think the angry people in the thread are all drivers?

Not overall and not per-bike vs. per-auto. As in not even close. So you should realign your least favorites back to the auto.

This is understandable, but I think there's a huge difference between being a shitty driver (in a car) and being an excellent rider and intentionally endangering the lives of other people, as many of these cyclist do without hesitation.

I'm in Toronto and don't find the couriers that bad here. However, if I was crossing on a green (as a ped) and one of these idiots ran a red and almost hit me, I'd do my damndest to make him or her land on their ass.
posted by dobbs at 1:16 PM on July 15, 2004


Crumbly: Riding with one gear is fun! Seriously. I had to ride a derailer bike last weekend and I couldn't stand it.
posted by Utilitaritron at 1:34 PM on July 15, 2004


>Cyclists are generally hyper-aware of traffic flow, where everyone is and where everyone is apparently going.

If and when I break a traffic law it's almost always to avoid situations which increase my chances of being hit by a driver not paying attention. Riding along a road at 18-25 MPH and being constantly aware of what traffic is doing and, more importantly, what it may do takes quite a bit of skill.

Good post loquacious
posted by birdsong at 1:38 PM on July 15, 2004


So you could just splat a cyclist and get on with your day/life, I suppose.

Yeah, I'll go to my grave deeply saddened that the SUV driver who just hosed me off his grill is going to lose a few minutes of sleep.

The fact is, as loquacious says, bikes are part of the road. But many drivers are paying attention to everything BUT the road.

But it's worse than that. I know it's just a few, but some drivers (like the turd in the van) seem like they're out to run cyclists off the road. At least once a week, when I'm riding completely within the law -- or even stopped at a light -- I'm hassled by drivers who seem absolutely angered by my presence on the road.
posted by sixpack at 1:42 PM on July 15, 2004


Ugh. Single gears are for sprinters and madmen. One and the same, most likely. Climbing hills is bad enough for my knees with 24 speeds in the drivetrain.

Sixpack: Indeed. I've had drivers get absolutely (and totally illogically) enranged by the fact I'm able to pass them in heavy traffic. Talk about misplaced anger, considering the dork in the car doing the yelling is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

I wonder if motorcyclists get the same kind of hassles.

Hypothetical open letter: Look, you're the doofus that bought into that car ad with the sportscar zooming spectacularly through empty streets, or the SUV proudly climbing a ridge in open land. You bought the sportscar. You bought the SUV. Where in hell is there no traffic except for a closed track? Don't get pissed off at me because you're stuck in a car in traffic and your fantasies are unrealistic. Shut up and ride.
posted by loquacious at 1:51 PM on July 15, 2004


I wonder if motorcyclists get the same kind of hassles.

Indeed, they do.

However, these cyclists are tantamount to the idiots on motorcycles who ride up the divider line between cars. I doubt anyone would defend those guys and am baffled why any of you are defending these jerks.

Admittedly, the thread's become a defense of "normal" cyclists vs. bad drivers. The guys in these videos aren't "normal" cyclists. You can hate poor drivers and be saddened that people like this make cycling harder for the average Jo. I know I do.

Normal folks say things like this: "It's fun for sure and quite an andrenaline rush but last year when I became a father the realization that riding like that greatly increased my chances of major injuries and death hit me and I stopped." Crazy folks are like the guy at the beginning of the first video who dedicates his ride to his kid. His priorities are pretty out of whack.

You bought the SUV. Where in hell is there no traffic except for a closed track? Don't get pissed off at me because you're stuck in a car in traffic and your fantasies are unrealistic.

I'd argue that the people in these videos also live in a fantasy world. They're racing around at crazy speeds with no regard for anyone but themselves. Some are wearing headphones, a few have no helmets. They're gonna get splatted eventually. (In one of the vids, one does get hit (lightly) by a car (completely the cyclist's fault)).
posted by dobbs at 2:06 PM on July 15, 2004


This was an insane video. Those are insane children. That is an insane traffic flow. I am insane for downloading a 50+ meg video of the insanity.
posted by dejah420 at 2:21 PM on July 15, 2004


nice words, loquacious. I second the "hyper-aware" aspect. I'm often thinking ahead, predicting erratic car movements and potential problems.
posted by shoepal at 2:25 PM on July 15, 2004



Regrettably, all the links are down. I would still like to view the clips. Can anyone host them?

Witold
www.witold.org
posted by Witold at 3:07 PM on July 15, 2004


As a cyclist I'd like to distance myself equally from cyclists who break the rules of the road and car drivers who are inattentive, inconsiderate or just pure aggressive. We have a right to be on the street, which car drivers should recognise, but that right demands that we play by the same rules the motorists have to. I can't say I've ever felt my life was put at risk by stopping at a red light, but maybe you drive different over there. If so then good luck to all you poor bastards cycling in the USA.
posted by squealy at 4:12 PM on July 15, 2004


Clearly they're pushing themselves for this competition or whatever it is. There are way too many questionable navigation choices in that video, and I mean beyond the mere fact of being a NYC bike mess. The fact that they get so tangled, stopped up, honked at, and nearly killed repeatedly all adds up, for me, to the conclusion that ordinarily, they're probably a bit safer than this (albeit still crazy).

Doing this shit for a living is one thing, but doing it for a race is just asinine.
posted by scarabic at 4:33 PM on July 15, 2004


Messengers are perceived as being reckless, but there's some method in the madness. Bear in mind that their view of the traffic around them is much better than that of the driver in a vehicle. What looks like squeezing a gap from where you're sitting in a car, is a much less difficult move from their viewpoint. The narrow perspective of a helmet-cam exagerates this effect, similarly.

I was once a bike messenger. It's true that you become "hyper-aware" of what the traffic around you is doing. You learn to read and predict patterns of traffic behaviour that a motorist will never percieve, because they'll never see the traffic the way you can from a bike.

Before you write off messengers as crazy, remember that there's no-one as aware as them of the reasons they ride like they do. The system almost demands it. They're generally paid by the job - you want to earn enough to live on, you better do a lot of jobs. The pay is, also, generally abismally poor. There's also no incentive for the despatchers to limit the number of messengers they hire, so the competition for work gets fierce and the guys that deliver fastest and with the least complaint get favored. Meanwhile, if you do get injured, there's no benefits - if you aren't riding, you aren't eating. Overall, there's some pretty big incentives not to be so crazy you're at risk. The anti-messenger vehicle commuters are quick enough to complain if their delivery is late to their office, though.

All in all it's shit work and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
posted by normy at 6:56 PM on July 15, 2004


The guys in this video are a loooooooong way from normal or average bike commuters.

I'm with Dobbs. I do not see how anyone could defend the riding in this video.

Avoiding all the talk of the traffic laws, etc, there is one thing they do, repeatedly, that is absolutely inexcusable: blowing through CROWDED pedestrian crosswalks at full tilt.

It's dumb, dangerous, and indefensible.

We in the motorcycle world often decry the "stunters" and retarded children that go down the highway standing on their gas tank or other such ridiculousness. This rather small percentage of riders give the rest of us a bad name.

I would think bicyclists would similarly distance themselves from this kind of obviously illegal and frankly offensive riding.
posted by Ynoxas at 6:42 AM on July 16, 2004


re: my above doubts about Columbus bike messengers:

Saw your post on metafilter, just thought I'd add some info for you, cant sign up to metafilter at the moment.Anyway, in 2003 Sally from archive took 2nd place in the national champs race in wash dc, and davey rocket took 2nd place in the worlds messenger race in seattle, alot more hardcore than many would think for a little city like this.Im the owner of a messenger service here in columbus, there some very very fast and hardcore riders here believe it or not.

Go Columbus!

I love the internet!
posted by crumbly at 1:40 PM on July 16, 2004


These videos and more can now be found here (when it's not getting pounded by surfers) it seems to have just gone down but will probably be back (I'm guessing).
posted by DBAPaul at 8:25 AM on August 10, 2004


« Older The Sakai Project,...  |  Superman lookalikes... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments