The law of entropy states (more or less) that when a place is left alone, things start to get weird, and at around 12:30 a.m. on an April night in Times Square, they did. Bikers from around the tristate area roared into the empty plaza. Jonathan Mena is the sergeant at arms of the Gonobikerreas, a Colombian crew with around 50 local members. Their PPE took the form of Bluetooth helmets that, Mena says, “close completely, so you don’t get exposed.” With fewer cars on the road, it’s easier than ever to cruise. “We take the New Jersey Turnpike,” he says. “It took like 25 or 30 minutes to get there, and there wasn’t any traffic.”
Also in Times Square that night was Benjamin Rahanaev and members of the Brooklyn Moto Crew, a group of about 25 bikers who, in pre-COVID times, would cruise upstate on the weekends but have taken to Times Square since the lockdown. “The first two weeks of COVID was whatever. Everyone was home to quarantine,” says Rahanaev. “But then we realized it’s not as serious as the media says it is. You don’t have to be locked up in the house.” The rides start with a text to the group chat. “Then we all go to Coffee Spot in Sheepshead Bay, and from there we gas up and go.” The trip in Manhattan takes 30 minutes. “We’ll start in Times Square and then stop at Columbus Circle, Hudson Yards, Meatpacking,” he says. “We’ll cruise and then we stop and take pictures for our group Instagram. We’re planning a trip where we’re all going to put on tuxedos and suits and go out and take pictures.”
“I’m kind of enjoying the whole COVID-19, I’ll be honest with you,” says Rahanaev. “Everything in New York used to be so fast-paced, and now it’s slowed down. We’ve seen some weird things, too. There was a girl on a Citi Bike that was following us for about a good 15, 20 blocks. She must’ve been like 17 years old and reaching 20 miles an hour. We slowed down so she could feel like part of the pack.”
*This article appears in the May 11, 2020, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!