Esplanade closure begins February 1st

People on Bikes: Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn

Posted by on October 27th, 2012 at 7:28 am

Welcome to the latest installment of People on Bikes.

Yesterday evening I had the distinct pleasure of photographing the evening bicycle rush hour near the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn. A beautiful mural that adorns a downhill off-ramp of the bridge caught my eye and I thought it’d make a nice backdrop. The mural, Fictional Landscape by Abby Goldstein (located at Sands and Jay streets) is one of many urban art projects managed by NYC DOT and integrated into their bikeways.

Coverage from New York City
made possible by:

The people on bikes that streamed by my lens (I was there for about 25 minutes) were a wonderfully diverse lot. The demographic diversity was similar to what we see in Portland; but the ethnic diversity was much different. Beyond that, the other thing that stood out for me was just the traffic itself. The volume wasn’t as high as on Portland’s bridges, but it was certainly a significant and steady stream of people. The infrastructure on/off the bridge is very notable too. I’ll share a more in-depth look at that in a separate post.

For now, take a look at what people on bikes look like in Brooklyn…

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-37

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-48

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-47

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-46

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-45

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-44

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-43

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-42

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-41

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-40

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-39

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-38

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-49

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-1

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-35

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-34

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-33

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-32

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-31

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-30

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-29

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-28

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-2

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-26

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-25

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-24

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-23

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-22

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-21

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-19

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-18

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-17

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-16

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-15

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-14

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-13

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-12

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-11

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-10

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-9

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-8

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-7

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-6

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-5

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-4

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-3

People on Bikes - Manhattan Bridge-27

Like People on Bikes? Check out past editions here.

— This post is part of my ongoing New York City coverage. I’m here for a week to cover the NACTO Designing Cities conference and the city’s bike culture in general. This special reporting trip was made possible by Planet Bike, Lancaster Engineering, and by readers like you. Thank you! You can find all my New York City coverage here.

Please support BikePortland.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • g October 27, 2012 at 8:09 am

    Celeb Sighting #39 – Liam Neeson filming in a new bicycle messenger movie ‘Taken by Bike’

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    • A.K. October 29, 2012 at 9:24 am

      “I have skills…. I specific set of skills. I don’t know who you are, but I will find you, bike to you, and kill you.”

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  • John Boyd October 27, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Such a smiley place, New York. Love these sets!

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  • scaryseth October 27, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Another great People on Bikes, as usual!
    Nice to see a sampling of another cities riders. A little different than seen in Portland. But lots of smiles and enjoying the ride.
    Let the comments on trends begin 🙂

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  • scaryseth October 27, 2012 at 8:25 am

    out of 49 riders
    22 helmets
    4 front lights
    2 with clipless pedals

    And what the heck is #15

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    • pixelgate October 27, 2012 at 9:20 am

      Best part about riding in NYC?

      No self righteous folks barking “WHERES YOUR HELMET?”

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      • Hugh Johnson October 27, 2012 at 9:24 am

        Yep. Portland ain’t all that.

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    • Dweendaddy October 27, 2012 at 9:59 am

      I guess NY is doing something different than Portland if so many people feel comfortable riding without helmets, a la Copenhagen or the Netherlands. Or they are just riskier folks than Oregonians? Or less outdoorsy/Recreational types than Portlandians? Not as much Patagonia on display. More immigrants from non-helmet wearing lands? I’d love to hear other theories.

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      • Carl October 27, 2012 at 11:17 am

        I wear a helmet when I ride in Portland, but not New York — either when I lived there, or when I go back to visit. Strange as it may sound, I generally feel safer riding in NYC.

        The main differences are speed and awareness. Other than bridge crossings (like in this photo set), you’re rarely riding at more than 10 mph in NYC, simply because of the density of traffic, pedestrians and obstacles. But more important, people pay attention there — drivers especially. They’re a lot more aggressive, to be sure, but you’ll never get a “Oh, oops, did I almost run you over? I didn’t even SEE you!” moment. Which is pretty much a weekly occurrence here in PDX…

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        • ScoBu October 27, 2012 at 1:29 pm

          Funny, I had one of those moments downtown just Thursday afternoon. “Don’t mind me, I didn’t really need to be in that lane so why don’t you just come right on over…”

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        • lyle October 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm


          What streets and how frequently are you riding?

          Try hourly.

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      • cold worker October 28, 2012 at 12:35 pm

        It is not “portlandians”. Portlanders. Thanks. Ok, former New Yorkapolitan? New Yorkan?

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        • Dweendaddy October 29, 2012 at 7:04 am

          I think ever since Portlandia aired, the term “Portlander” is on the way out, Portlandians!

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      • Randall S. October 29, 2012 at 7:54 am

        Maybe they’re just less susceptible to baseless scare tactics.

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    • Spiffy October 27, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      illegal to ride in Portland without a seat…

      we’ve got a lot of catching up to do… NYC is soon to become the #1 bike city…

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    • Kris October 27, 2012 at 8:06 pm

      Oh, I only caught the one with pedals. I think I was too distracted by the helmet in the hand of the other one… Also, 10 with headphones… crazy.

      The HarderBike caught my eye too. I’m pretty sure they’d be illegal in most states. Generally a seat is required. I wonder if they’re legal in New York.

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      • Jacob October 28, 2012 at 2:01 pm

        Hah. I live in NYC, and the idea of an illegal bike is pretty comical. There is almost zero enforcement of any bike rules on NYC streets (except for sidewalk riding, which is ruthlessly enforced). When police don’t ticket red light running, there definitely could care less about a bike without a seat.

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    • Shelley October 29, 2012 at 11:50 am

      Out of 49 riders, 19 were women. They were wearing regular clothes with boots, heels, flats and even 5-figer shoes. THAT is what tells you that biking is taking hold in NYC.

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  • Michael October 27, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Thanks for the set of photos, loved the people… so many with out lids?

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  • 9watts October 27, 2012 at 9:06 am

    The preponderance of luggage hung from handlebars is interesting. Maybe a shortage of racks in NYC? Though baskets also seem popular.

    Very cool set – those that loaded. I’m hoping the rest load too.

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  • pixelgate October 27, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Great photos Jonathan!

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  • are October 27, 2012 at 9:49 am

    item 15 caused me to do some internet searching

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    • John Lascurettes October 28, 2012 at 2:00 am

      Same here. Crazy bike. No seat post.

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      • Pete E October 28, 2012 at 10:30 am

        How would you lock it up?

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  • Barbara October 27, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Looks more European than Portland riders, including the lack of helmets…

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  • Rick October 27, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Great photos! That “Harder Bikes” dude freaked me out. No seat??? Yikes!

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  • Rob October 27, 2012 at 11:14 am

    And almost no bike specific clothing. I should double check with some of the portland pic sets, but I don’t think you can take that many pictures in Portland without one piece of Showers Pass gear.

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    • rider October 29, 2012 at 10:56 am

      Well, incessant rain and all.

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  • Rol October 27, 2012 at 11:54 am

    I love how the helmet thing is blowing everyone’s minds. It’s nice to see that New Yorkers’ traditionally healthy BS detectors are still functioning.

    Far more disturbing is that 13 of these people aren’t visibly wearing socks. We’d have to get them to take their shoes off to verify. But no, on second thought, keep those shoes ON, people. That’s just nasty!

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    • ScoBu October 27, 2012 at 1:37 pm

      Since I have personally had a helmet save my life twice, I’ll get the pavement blow my helmet instead of my mind. But, hey, to each his own.

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      • Randall S. October 29, 2012 at 12:06 pm

        If you’re such an incompetent cyclist that you’ve had AT LEAST TWO separate incidents where you fell off your bike and hit your head so hard that it crushed the styrofoam liner on your helmet, maybe you shouldn’t be riding bicycles in the first place.

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        • Wyatt Baldwin October 30, 2012 at 3:28 pm

          How is this constructive? You have no idea what the circumstances were.

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          • pengo October 30, 2012 at 8:01 pm

            Maybe he feels that the comments section is not moderated closely enough and this is how he chooses to express that.

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      • El Biciclero October 29, 2012 at 12:35 pm

        I’ve had a helmet NOT save my life thousands of times. I’ve had NO helmet NOT kill me thousands of times. I’ve had NO helmet NOT kill me twice in crashes (both as a preteen). Number of times helmet has saved my life: 0. Number of times NO helmet has killed me: 0. Number of times I’ve criticized a stranger (directly or indirectly) for not wearing a helmet: 0.

        Because of how and where I ride (routine downhill speeds in the 30-40mph range, in various mixed-traffic situations), I tend to wear my helmet most of the time, but depending on how and where other people ride, the “need” for a helmet may be less then mine. Really, if we’re worried about falls, then we’d better insist on staircase and shower helmets, and if we’re worried about getting hit by cars, then we’d better insist on pedestrian and driving helmets. It seems irrational and condescending that bicycle riders are singled out for scolding over helmet use, when we could save many more lives by insisting on completely different, unrelated safety measures. Ladder-climbing helmets…life jackets required for swimming pools…household chemical safes…prohibition…french fry bans…car-free zones…lower speed limits…

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  • Rol October 27, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Socks and helmets: Of 13 sockless riders, 62% wore helmets. Of 36 be-socked riders, 36% wore helmets. It appears that socklessness correlates with helmet use. I guess if you’re susceptible to one type of popular BS (“don’t wear socks, socks are dreadful”), you’re gonna be susceptible to other types (“wear a helmet, helmets saved my precious, precious life”). From a corporate marketing standpoint this seems like an obedient and very profitable demographic. Wear your helmet or you’ll DIE (cha-CHING for the helmet makers and of course the car makers), and don’t wear socks or you’ll be a SOCIAL OUTCAST AND STARVE ALONE IN CELIBACY (cha-CHING for the shoe makers when you have to replace those nasty stanky ones).

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    • pengo October 28, 2012 at 9:20 pm

      Man am I glad I’m not a helmet. My feelings would be super hurt after that. Way to stick it to ’em!

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      • Rol November 3, 2012 at 2:56 pm

        Too bad there’s not a helmet for helmets’ feelings.

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  • Toby October 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Nice to see so many people acknowledging the camera! Fun photo set 😉

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    • ScoBu October 27, 2012 at 1:27 pm

      Agreed! I thought that was cool, too.

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  • 9watts October 27, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    #28 gives the term toe clips new meaning.

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  • ScoBu October 27, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Great assortment of bikes, too!

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  • Jim October 27, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Gasp. People of colour on the pages of Nice to see.

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  • Jim October 27, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Oh btw I saw all your comments re: vehicles violating bike lanes; it’s a universal problem. To call it out every single time I suppose brings the issue to light but come on cyclists are pictured doing all kinds of wrong things in your set.

    Where is a guy supposed to unload his delivery in such a densely-packed city anyway? I think bringing your Portland eyes to NYC then judging it is just a bit presumptuous.

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  • Doug G. October 27, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Depending on where these people are riding to they may find themselves on protected or separated bike paths for most of their journey with just a few short stretches where they have to interact with drivers. And even in those stretches the bike lanes have wide buffers. There’s the bridge itself, of course, but then there’s the Sand Street cycle track which connects to a short unprotected lane which then connects to Flushing Ave (buffered, then protected) and Kent Avenue (completely protected).

    Not that NYC is perfect, of course, and there are still far too many gaps in the network, but given the investment in protected bike lanes in stretches leading to and from this bridge I’m not surprised that Jonathan captured so many people feel comfortable riding sans helmet.

    These are wonderful pictures! Thank you!

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  • Doug G. October 27, 2012 at 2:40 pm


    “who feel comfortable riding sans helmet.”

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  • Paul Smith October 27, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Honestly your People On Bikes posts generally bore me, people expressionlessly zinging by, but this group is so expressive, I like the ones where they’re looking or throwing a sign. Definitely a great slice of NYC, thanks 🙂

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    • A.K. October 29, 2012 at 9:31 am

      Portlanders are far too cool to look at the camera or *gasp*, show some humor or humanity. You must remain neutral or actually give Jonathan a dirty look to remain a real Portlander.

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    • Nate October 30, 2012 at 1:58 pm

      Two possibilities come to mind:
      1. PDXers are too busy fending for their lives from inattentive drivers to notice the camera.
      2. Jonathan posted up in a more visible spot for this set than usual in PDX.


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  • Adam October 27, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    It is fantastic how many people actually seem pleased to have their picture taken.

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  • Spiffy October 27, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    I like that #37 is multitasking…

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  • Gracie October 27, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    I love seeing people wearing dressy clothing on their bikes.

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    • Ron October 28, 2012 at 9:32 am

      Agreed! Nice to see so many cyclists who aren’t in dorky bike spandex and clipped pedals for their ride across town.

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      • Jacob October 28, 2012 at 6:59 pm

        It’s actually quite rare to see people commuting in Spandex in NYC. Not that people never ride in spandex here, they just limit it to training rides in parks and out of town rides on the weekends.

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  • scaryseth October 27, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    I find it interesting how the helmet comments, that were non-judgmental, sparked all the talk. I do not judge myself and have considered not wearing mine as frequently as I do. It was the main commonality that stuck out to me right away.

    Some others
    17 noticeable bells
    21 fenders of one form or another

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  • John Liu
    John Liu October 27, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Interesting bike fits. Almost every rider shown has their seat too low, and half have their feet positioned too far forward on the pedals.

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    • gutterbunny October 28, 2012 at 11:23 pm

      Blah, they weren’t competing. And lower seat means more upright position. Better for seeing the road when riding in an urban environment, slightly slower, better visibility means a safer ride. Thus less helmets. You by the book “fit” guys are funny. If it’s a comfortable ride, it fits.

      I’ve never bought the helmet argument. You can say all you want that it saved your life, but really you can’t say it is a fact since the incident didn’t happen without it. Sure, you might have hit you head good, but it doesn’t mean you’d have been a goner or left drooling in the corner if you didn’t have it on. Quite frankly the evidence that they work is pretty thin, and considering all most all of them failed the Consumer Reports tests . I’ll keep taking my chances.

      Helmets and specialized gear (like rain gear) is a just a marketing ploy to get you to buy more stuff at overly inflated prices. For most the history of cycling people rode bikes without helmet, lights, or what not. They just rode in what they wore the rest of the day, and despite what some of you safety say it is still the best way to bike.

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  • John Lascurettes October 28, 2012 at 2:01 am

    Interesting that the denizens of NYC seem more aware of Jonathan’s camer than the Portland subjects of his photo series.

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  • Editz October 28, 2012 at 9:47 am

    I wonder how many of these folks are fair weather riders.

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  • patrickz October 28, 2012 at 10:08 am

    These people seem to be all busy types. Good to see a few Surlys, and I really like that Urban Art Projects setup; makes me think of some places here that could use some visual enlivening. Fine reporting and photos. Thanks, Jonathan

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    • chucklehead October 29, 2012 at 12:17 pm

      Why is it good to see Surly’s? I’d rather see something nice.

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  • Cory October 28, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Anybody know what kind of helmet #24 is wearing?

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    • pengo October 28, 2012 at 9:24 pm

      Pretty sure it’s the Giro Hex.

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      • Cory October 29, 2012 at 9:09 pm

        Yeah, that’s it, thank you!

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  • Eric October 28, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Did anyone else notice that #’s 6,7,8,and 9 are all riding the same bike??? Is there a bike share station close by or what??

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    • Aaron October 28, 2012 at 10:37 pm

      Yes, I did, and it’s weird! I thought maybe a bike share but the head tubes are all different lengths and don’t bike shares usually have a one size fits all?

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  • Jessica October 28, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    I’m #18 – clearly looking at you out of the corner of my eye and on my way to pick up my son at daycare! Totally saw the camera and wondered where these photos would end up. I actually am usually a helmet wearer, but recently lost it and just haven’t had time to replace it yet.

    As someone else pointed out, however, it’s possible to spend nearly your entire commute in Brooklyn on roads with bike lanes, and often buffered or separated ones at that. When I have my son on the bike I will typically go a bit out of my way to keep to those roads.

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    • stephry October 29, 2012 at 11:44 am

      Sharp lookin’ boots Jessica!

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  • Necia October 28, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    I cant believe you were able to capture all that bukey goodness in 1 day. I work and play in NYC, and never have I sern such an eclectic mix. Clearly, I ned to hang out in better places :). The best photo for me was the lady in the vibram 5 fingers using clip in’s. I LOVE it! When I purchased my bike, I had on my fingers and a skirt, and the salesperson suggested I come back dressed for a test ride. I laughed, and told him if I couldnt ride comfortably the way I currently was, I wouldnt be buying a bike. Once we were past all of that, things went smoothly, and I absolutely LOVE cycling. Keep the photos coming!

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  • editz October 29, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Looks like your work’s even making it onto 4chan:

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  • Ed October 29, 2012 at 10:05 am

    more surlys than cannondales bummer

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  • Carl October 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Did you group 6,7,8, and 9 together intentionally? They all appear to be from the same Raleigh line. Wonder what the story there is.

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  • Ian Hopper October 29, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Love seeing the Big Dummys and Xtracycles! Also, what’s that electric bike in #43? Couldn’t see a tube decal…

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  • Jeremy Cohen October 29, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    #33–most fabulous helmet (cover) EVER! To hell with safety, that is straight-up fashion.

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    • Tacoma October 30, 2012 at 6:35 pm

      Agreed. #33 is a fascinating juxtaposition of style, efficiency, and functionality. Love the helmet, love the single speed.

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  • Alicia November 3, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Great pics! It seems that there may be a bike sharing program? pics 8&9 seem to have identical bikes (minus the carrier on the back of 9). We have a bike program here in St. Paul and it’s fantastic.

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