A Brand New Start of It
“At around 9:30 p.m. last night, a woman came on to the 4 train I was riding heading into Brooklyn from Manhattan. She got on in Downtown Manhattan, had a bicycle with her, and she propped it in front of one of the doors and would only move it slightly to let people on and off at various stops. A woman sitting across from her told her she was giving all bicyclists a bad name by blocking the door, and requested that she move back to the Midwest or West Coast.”
Never mind whether or not you can tell where a person is from based on their preferred commuting method. And please don’t pay attention to the ridiculous notion that one person engaged in the perfectly legal act of transporting a bicycle on the subway reflects poorly on all cyclists. (Do you know how many brunettes I’ve seen clipping their fingernails on the N train? Damn brunettes!) Why are people who bike always told to “go back to the Midwest,” but the many drivers of cars bearing Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, and, yes, even Midwestern license plates assumed to have the right to roam free on congested New York City streets?
Even if one assumes that all cyclists are, in fact, Midwestern or West Coast transplants, the idea of young people moving to the Big Apple from across the country to find opportunity is an integral part of this city’s history, mythology, and pop culture. “I want to be a part of it,” and all that. One gets the sense that if today’s “real” New Yorkers could rewrite the Broadway musical 42nd Street the show would end almost as soon as the curtain rises with Peggy Sawyer being told to get on the bus back to Allentown.
Of course, with biking growing as a viable transportation option across the nation one big question remains: where are cyclists in Minneapolis, Chicago, Long Beach, and San Francisco told to go back to? Brooklyn?