On a Monday morning in July 2015, a man rode his bike into an intersection in central Brooklyn. This particular stretch of pavement, where Flatbush and Atlantic meet and break around the Barclays Center, is a football field of grooved asphalt and multi-directional stoplights that’s always crawling with activity. The sun was shining and it hadn’t recently rained; road conditions were perfect for the 7am commuter rush.
It wouldn’t matter. At 7:05am, a driver on 4th Ave would lose control of his SUV, collide with a sedan waiting at the light on Dean St, and hurtle over the intersection’s concrete median. The man on the bike would be crushed by the careening vehicle, his handlebars and gears wedged in wheels. By the time the ambulance arrived just a few minutes later, the cyclist would be dead.
Ten blocks away and an hour later, I’d buckle my helmet, leave my apartment in Fort Greene, and make a mental note. What a beautiful day for a bike ride.
This is the devil’s bargain of riding your bike in New York City. It’s a glorious activity, right up until the moment when you get killed. “For me, cycling in NYC is 75% value, 25% burden,” Neistat, the filmmaker, hypothesized in an email to Thrillist. The upshots are many -- it’s convenient! Cheap! Fun! Healthy! -- and the downsides are few. But they’re also severe. You can die out there, and people do.