I certainly wouldn't defend all working cyclists' standards. I had a nasty near-miss in Cobble Hill late one night with a delivery cyclist who ran a red light into my path. I’m frequently unimpressed with the way some riders squeeze past me in the evening on the
I do, however, recognise that even I find New York's grid system frustrating as a cyclist - and I have the luxury of never riding in city traffic more than a few times a day and not losing any pay if I'm late. Would I follow all the street direction rules if the restaurant where I worked were on a one-way street and it would add five minutes to every trip to go the right way round the block to reach it? Would I wait at the lights every time if I knew that doing so would leave me scores of times a day jostling with several streams of fast-moving, inconsiderate taxis? Would I expect my bosses to back me if I explained that my productivity was lower than other delivery bikers’ because unlike them I assiduously followed the rules?
A courier on W55th street. It's the kind of day when
riding round the city must have its upsides.
But would you want to judge the traffic lights knowing
doing so all day could lob a fifth off your wages?
All delivery cyclists, meanwhile, can deploy the devastating argument that occurred to me when, one Saturday afternoon, my family and I were passed far too close in Brooklyn Heights by a poorly-driven car bearing the logo of a nearby pizza restaurant. The alternative to negligently, lawlessly handled delivery bicycles probably isn't polite, legal delivery bikes but negligently, lawlessly-driven motor vehicles. It may even - who knows? - have been that the restaurant turned to cars to avoid New York's new, strict delivery biker regulations.
That's the point to bear in mind next time a bike courier whizzes past you on a pedestrian crossing or the man from the local Mexican comes the wrong way down the bike lane towards you. Sure, it's annoying. Sure, they shouldn't do it. But thank goodness they're not doing it with a car.