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Interview: Bike Snob NYC

Photographer John Francis Peters
July 27, 2009

Yesterday's New York Times piece on Bike Snob NYC, with playfully secretive accompanying photo, served as a not-so-subtle reminder to post our own interview with Bike Snob NYC, with playfully secretive accompanying photo, from last month's FADER Summer Music issue. Read the interview after the jump and learn some very valuable lessons about sharing the road and not fighting with rollerbladers.


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Before meeting up with the anonymous author of Bike Snob NYC—a hilariously sassy blog dedicated to the city’s cycling foibles and faux pas—I stopped to note the bike lane traffic on Fourth Street and Sixth Avenue: one motorcycle, one guy pushing a Vespa, three people riding in the wrong direction, two mountain bikes (interesting because they are not cool) and one dude on a fixed gear flying down the side of the street opposite the lane. And one taco truck. It seemed a fitting prelude to a discussion with the one person willing to take them all on in the name of common sense and fair travel.

In general, you seem to be pretty egalitarian about things. You give everybody shit.
If I make fun of something, it’s because I see myself in it. I understand a lot of the impulses, and that’s partially why I think they’re so funny. There’s equal humor in all of it. There’s a certain amount of vanity
in all cyclists.

If you had to build a cycling Frankenstein, who was inoffensive, who would it be?
I would never do that—I don’t believe in holding up examples. I mean Sheldon Brown [the legendary “parts manager, webmaster and general tech guru” of Harris Cyclery, in West Newton, Massachusetts] was the ideal cyclist. Everybody else can just aspire to that.

Did he pass away?
He died about a year ago or something.

Oh my god, the internet. If you only Google things, you can miss out.
Yeah, that’s the beauty of it. In the internet, people live forever. His death is a minor wrinkle in his legacy. The best thing about him was, as erudite and non-judgmental as he was, if he saw something stupid he would just say, “That’s stupid.” I like that about him. I can only be critical.

Where are you from?
I grew up in the Rockaways. I’m a whiny New Yorker I guess in that sense—a complainer.

One of the recurring features on your blog is a thing about commuting in New York…
“The Indignity of Commuting.” The whole racing thing is just human nature. Even if you’re just riding home from work, you’re trying to pass that asshole you see riding past you on the bridge.

At least there haven’t been any bike rage shootings.
Oh no, there’s bike rage stories all the time.

What’s the best one?
I got into a shouting match with a rollerblader the other day. I’m just going home from work, I’m not throwing down or nothing. Suddenly he’s on my wheel and he’s stuck to it, and it’s really disconcerting when people do that. I try to let him go, and he’s right in front of me—he wants to play, he wants to race. So finally I just yell at him, “Get the fuck away from me.” And he starts yelling at me, “I’m not gonna hit you, I’m great on these things.” And then I swear to god he said to me, “I’m from the streets, I’m from New Jersey.” And at that point the fight dissolved because I was just like, “Okay, let’s stop the yelling.” And then some woman walked by and said, “Calm down.” And we said “We’re calm.” And I’m like, “Okay, listen. Don’t do that.” And he was like, “But I get into races with guys on bikes sometimes and they’re into it.” So I’m like, “There may be times when people are into it, but as a rule, don’t do it. Don’t try to race people on bikes with your rollerblades. Just don’t do it, it’s not cool.” And he’s like, “Really, it’s not cool?” And I was like, “Really, it’s not. It’s really not cool.” And he was really grateful for the information.

I assume he’s never won one of these races.
I’m sure when it’s some guy on rollerblades, and he’s racing some other unwitting guy on his Dutch city bike who’s feeling a little spunky that morning, I’m sure that he beats that guy.

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Interview: Bike Snob NYC