Atlantic Cities

Do New Yorkers Really Need to Be Told How to Use Bike Lanes?

New York has had dedicated pathways for bicycles since 1894, when the first bike lane in the country opened on Ocean Parkway. Even back then there was a strong local biking community: More than 60 competitive-racing "wheelman clubs" attended the debut of the new path, which was patrolled by police on wheels who enforced a strict (and nowadays laughable) speed limit of 12 m.p.h.

More than a century later, you'd think that New Yorkers had learned how to use bike lanes. But you'd be wrong: They're still making dumb, inconsiderate mistakes like riding against the flow of traffic and busting through red lights, according to a group of cycling activists called the Bicycle Ambassadors.

The Ambassadors, who are part of the public-transit advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, are known for pedaling around town in blue clothing, giving unsolicited advice to people who run afoul of traffic safety. (They must have killer calves, because the job would seem to entail a lot of strenuous escapes from hotheads.) The group recently compiled a list of unsafe bike-lane behaviors, which they weaved into a short film called "Intersection Follies."

The movie is edited to look like it's from the 1920s, for some reason, although the producers really blew a chance to use toothbrush mustaches and old-timey pianee music. Give the Ambassadors points for pointing accusing fingers at pedestrians and cyclists alike:

John Metcalfe is a staff writer at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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