Interview With a New York Bike-Lane Vigilante

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Photo: YouTube

Casey Neistat's slapstick protest against the NYPD's bicycle crackdown — a YouTube video in which he intentionally crashes into illegal bike-lane obstructions, including a cop car — looks harrowing, but he claims he escaped without a scratch.

"No bumps, no bruises," he told Daily Intel. "I always thought of myself as an amateur stunt man." He does seem quite good at falling.

Neistat got a $50 ticket for riding outside the bike lane a few weeks ago. After calling into The Brian Lehrer Show for a segment about the city's cyclist crackdown, he was inspired to make the video, now a viral hit among bike advocates and the much larger online population of people who enjoy watching others fall down.

The legality of riding outside the bike lane is a bit murky. New York City regulations state: "Bicycle riders must use bike path/lane, if provided, except for access, safety, turns, etc." As seen in the video, the "safety" exception is frequently necessary. And city regulations also ban "parking, standing or stopping vehicles within or otherwise obstructing bike lanes."

Neistat, a documentary filmmaker with a show on HBO, says he is "a big advocate for bike safety," although a YouTube video of him riding his bike through the Holland Tunnel to New Jersey suggests that his definition of the term probably doesn't match up that well with actual traffic laws.

The video ends with Neistat colliding with a cop car parked in a bike lane. "We got out of there pretty quickly," he said. Oh, and Casey: No helmet?

"I don't really have a good response for that one," he said. "I own four helmets but I'm not so good at putting them on."

Related:
Not Quite Copenhagen: Is New York too New York for bike lanes?
New Provocateurs: Casey and Van Neistat