Cyclists to the Rescue! by Matt Levy
Aunt Reba was in town from Seattle and I only had one night to see her. This meant a bike ride from my apartment in Greenwood Heights Brooklyn, over the Manhattan Bridge, coast through Chinatown and zoom through the East Village over to Sheridan Square, where Reeb’s East Coast BFF Maxine has an apartment with million-dollar views.
After sliding down the bike ramp into Manhattan and turning north onto Chrystie street, I came up and passed another cyclist, a cool looking dude wearing a vintage Mets teeshirt and baseball cap, zooming on a powder-blue single speed fixie. I nodded, he nodded, just two cyclists in the city on a warm spring night.
After Delancey street, just north of Sammy’s Roumanian, something caught my eye on the West side of Allen; a taxicab pulled over at an acute angle to the sidewalk, with the driver out of his cab and face to face with yet another cyclist. This cyclist’s bike was flat on the street. The driver looked to be a modern Middle-Eastern man, mid 30s, polyester clubbing shirt and trimmed beard, and the cyclist was white, blue undershirt and curly hair sticking out from under his helmet.
I kept riding, figuring nothing much, just a difference of opinion on the shared streets of NYC. A block past i turned back again, just in time to see the driver throw a wild punch at the cyclists’ head, with the cyclist swinging back. “Whuh-oh!” I thought, and as i pulled a U-turn, i saw the cool-dude cyclist behind me look back to see what was going on. I made a wide circular swinging motion with my hand, silently indicating “Hey guy, follow me on this!” and sure thing he did, rolling up right behind as we sped to curly-hair’s rescue.
As we rolled up we saw the two of them throwing punches, really ridiculous ones too, particularly the angry cab driver, who was trying (and failing) to execute roundhouse kicks. Curly-hair was trying (and succeeding) to defend himself here, blocking most of the cabbie’s pathetic assaults. When we rolled up the cab driver was screaming obscenities while the biker was essentially trying (again, succeeding) to not get smacked.
“BUDDY! GET BACK IN THE CAR AND GET OUT OF HERE!” I said, loudly, seriously, forcefully to the cabbie. “THIS IS OVER AND YOU’RE NOT GOING TO WIN. GET IN THE CAB AND GO.” The cabbie wasn’t happy about this. But he was now facing three cyclists, plus another car which had pulled up in front of us all, with a lady pointing her cell phone out the window at him, shouting “I’M CALLING THE COPS RIGHT NOW.”
Some more proclamations and ugly obscenities, but the cabbie was absolutely in the wrong. So he got in his cab, and pulled off, shouting his disapproval the whole way. I checked in with curly, who said that the cabbie was parked in the bike lane, and when curial pointed this out to the man, the cabbie has reached out and slapped him. Nothing more.
Cool dude behind me didn’t need to say a word. Just nodded his approval, iPod earbuds plugged in the whole time. He turned and took off. Same goes for the lady in the car. Just me and curly on Allen street. A couple more words of mutual acknowledgment on the craziness of NYC cab drivers, and he picked up his bike and we went our ways.