New York’s Bicycle Speedway, 1896

New York author Stephen Crane won fame and acclaim after publication of his novel Red Badge of Courage in 1895. The following year, McClure Magazine published Stephen Crane’s “New York’s Bicycle Speedway” on the bike riding hipsters who begrimed Manhattan.

The Western Boulevard which slants from the Columbus monument at the southwest corner of Central Park to the river has vaulted to a startling prominence and is now one of the sights of New York. This is caused by the bicycle.

It is a great thoroughfare for bicycles. On these gorgeous spring days they appear in the thousands. All mankind is a-wheel apparently and a person on nothing but legs feels like a strange animal. A mighty army of wheels streams from the brick wilderness below Central Park and speeds over the asphalt.

The bicycle crowd has completely subjugated the street. The glittering wheels dominated from end to end. The cafes and dining rooms of apartment hotels are occupied mainly by people in bicycle clothes. Even the billboards have surrendered. They advertise wheels and lamps and tires and patent saddles with all the flaming vehemence of circus art. Even when they do condescend to still advertise a patent medicine, you are sure to confront a lithograph of a young person in bloomers who is saying in large type: “Yes, George, I find that Willow rum always refreshes me after these long rides.”

It is interesting to note the way in which the blasphemous and terrible truck drivers of the lower part of the city will hunt a bicyclist. A truck-driver, of course, believes a wheelman is a pest. The average man could not feel more annoyance if nature had suddenly invented a new kind of mosquito. And so the truck driver resolves in his dreadful way to make life as troublesome and thrilling for the wheelman as he possibly can. The situation affords deep excitement for everyone concerned.

The girl in bloomers is, of course, upon her native heath when she steers her steel steed into the Boulevard. One becomes conscious of a bewildering variety of bloomers. There are some that fit and some that do not fit. There are some that were not made to fit and there are some that couldn’t fit anyhow. Of course every decent citizen concedes that women shall wear what they please and it is supposed that he covenants with himself not to grin and nudge his neighbor when anything particularly amazing passes him on the street.

This is a partial excerpt. You can read the full article and other stories in Maggie, a Girl of the Streets and Other New York Writings.

Countering Emily Litella’s NY bike share hatorade

Forget about Dorothy Rabinowitz. Sure, she’s a Pulitzer prize winner, but she has clearly lost her mind and is irrelevant. Even some of her fellow conservatives believe that Rabinowitz has lost it with her incomprehensible tirades on various topics.

Watch and listen to what another well-loved New Yorker, Bill Cunningham, says about New York City’s enthusiasm for bikes at Spoke Spinners. The 84 year old fashion photographer for the New York Times famously gets around the City by bicycle.

On the Street with Bill Cunningham

Bikes May Use Full Lane, but not in New York State

New York State: No Bikes May Use Full Lane signs

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) defines the standards used by road engineers in the United States to install and maintain traffic control devices on all public streets, highways, bikeways, and private roads open to public traffic. “Traffic Control Devices” is engineering jargon for all of the signs, lights, posts, barriers, reflectors, and paint on and around these roads and bikeways. The MUTCD is published by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as a way to standardize your driving experience across the nation. It’s the reason Interstate Highway signs, stop signs and even the width and color of lane stripes are uniform from Hawaii to Vermont.

Continue reading Bikes May Use Full Lane, but not in New York State

Bill Cunningham rides a bicycle… in a hurricane

I completely missed this news during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy: Street fashion photographer Bill Cunningham was seen riding his bike and snapping photos of New Yorkers the day after Sandy made landfall in New Jersey on October 29.

Bill Cunningham NYC Hurricane Sandy

The 83 year old photographer for the New York Times famously rides a bicycle all around the city while wearing his trademark blue smock. You can see the hurricane edition of his photos in this slideshow.

Instagram image of Cunningham from Penny De Los Santo.