As I mentioned autonomous vehicles (self driving cars) in a previous post, I felt it was only fair to discuss one of the other issues that ties San Francisco, New York & Black Rock City together: Drunk people on bicycles.
Now that I’ve got your attention! Whether it’s the deep playa, SoHo, or any of those insane hills you Frisco people shoot down on the way to work, we’re all pleased that bicycling is catching on finally here in the United States. After being a niche for the well-to-do & granola among us in the 90’s, out East, the trend started picking up speed in the 2000s & now NYC has bike paths, while you get odd looks if you show up with an SUV anywhere outside of LA. As we all know, biking is better for the environment, can save you cash & gives you those crazy calf muscles. However, we’re starting to see something unnerving here on the East Coast that I know SF & Black Rock City has had to deal with for some time. And that would be biking under the influence.
As more and more parties move to Brooklyn, you have Burners attempting to solve a couple of problems at once. Moving from neighborhood to neighborhood in Manhattan is easy, but next to impossible in Brooklyn. Therefore, your options usually resolve to dropping $20+ on Uber or spending a good hour getting home while maybe possibly still intoxicated. So, in the DIY spirit we’ve grown to love, Burners are now locking their bikes up outside the party, rocking out, then heading home. Even Manhattanites have started taking their bikes to parties, sometimes even over the Brooklyn or Williamsburg Bridges.
While that might seem crazy, asking a couple of them (Warning: The plural of anecdote is not data, this should not be construed as actual journalism), their reasoning seemed pretty solid. They were daily riders, confident in their skills & not really trying to party too hard these days. The wind feels good at 4am & some have even reported stopping in the middle of their rides home to Manhattan on the bridge to watch the sunrise.
This seems like an amazing idea until you remember a couple of things. First, that bicycle laws are notoriously bad at protecting actual cyclists. No seriously, SF riders staged a “protest” in which cyclists just obeyed all of the rules of the road they’re obligated to, and it broke the traffic system pretty easily. From the San Francisco Weekly:
Riders arrived at every stop sign in a single file, coming to a complete stop and filing through the intersection only once they were given the right-of-way. The law-abiding act of civil disobedience snarled traffic almost immediately.
Remember, each state has its own laws on drinking & riding your bike (this chart here for info on all 50), so do your damn research before drinking & peddling.. Burner culture & party people have the additional concern of doing drugs & biking home. Let’s not for a second think that I’m advocating for taking Molly & riding your bicycle, but I’m not going to hallucinate that it doesn’t happen thousands of times on asphalt & water truck tamped down streets every year. If you’re comfortable on amphetamines that’s one thing, but let’s not pretend that Hoffman’s Bicycle ride was “safe” for anyone on that street.
Stylize your helmet however you like, but please, wear them. On playa & at night, wear something reflective, light emitting or in some way visible in darkness? If you’re not wearing a decent amount of light & you bike the deep playa on drugs, I hate you, even if I don’t slam into you at 20 mph at 3am on Wednesday morning. If you enjoy the party, have a couple of drinks & bike home at a reasonable pace, and get home over the Brooklyn Bridge without whizzing by someone wearing your pornj helmet? I love you. OutsmartBK is working on getting the word out on bike safety, because unlike SF, NYC has a long way to go. And just in case you can refresh yourself on Cali laws here. On playa, I expect it to be even more Mad Max Fury Road now that the new movie is out, and expect some terribly efficient upgrades to the archetypal ones we saw. Tally ho, but safety third!