Sunday, November 4, 2007

"I want to ride my bicycle!"

Still frames from Protectors of the Bike Lane, bike clown protest filmed in
Washington Square
for "Squaring Off", (c) copyright Liza Béar, 2005

Rushing to the cramped Soho post office on my bike to mail a late bill bursts an inner tube, so I head for Time's Up on Houston Street with some bread: two baguettes in exchange for tools and maybe mechanical help to fix the flat. The place is surprisingly devoid of fellow cyclists.
At the center of the large storefront and former antique furniture store which serves as HQ for the environmental activist group, Steve, the owner, a man in a striped grey shirt with a mustache plays his guitar.

"I can't do anything without my bike," I say.

The bicycle clowns have been out on a demonstration to guard the bike lanes against incursions by motor vehicles. They have the tools.

"They'll be back any minute," he says."You can listen to a song."

Seated on what must be the cat's chair, the cat, claws out, jumps on my lap and claws through layers of clothing to reclaim territory.

Steve sings a ballad he wrote about the new police parade regulations limiting groups of cyclists to 50.

I'm number forty-nine
Please don't pull me out of line

On the very first Pink Floyd album one of Syd Barrett's more whimsical numbers was a bicycle song.

I've got a bicycle
It's got a bell and a basket
I'd loan it to you if I could
But I borrowed it ....