Here’s how the modern-day biker creates his own street culture

Written by Jena Bohnenkamp, CNN New York, New York Author: Kathryn Taylor

The first roadways ran through the jungle of the Caribbean, and marked the border between the lands of the sun and the rainforest — for miles and miles. In Spanish, a “paseo de puerta,” or “bus lane,” is one of the busiest and most trafficked roads in our country.

In the tropical rainforests of the Azores archipelago, this Spanish term remains the same. Streets are rarely named for the forest — the forest is named for the roads. Streets are popular with bikers, bikers are popular with pedestrians, cars and sometimes even taxis.

New York’s first bike lane, in Murray’s district in Manhattan. Credit: Haralambos Partolas/LightRocket via Getty Images

What is known as this vast new “world of stripes”? In Washington, the standard is interstate 55. In Boston, it’s highway 10.

A scenic view of Motor Avenue in New York’s Meatpacking District. Credit: EyeEm/UIG via Getty Images

In New York, where even non-cyclists must navigate the 80-plus miles of bike lanes, police could soon require drivers to pay more attention, by insisting they display the bikers’ crest. This comes after several fatal car-bike crashes in the city.

Postage stamps have also become an important part of the bicycle-ID process. In Brooklyn’s Cypress Hills, the bikers of Queens are minted upon delivery of their identification with a special stamp.

In New York, with no sign of buses, signs had to be added to the wall of the Pennsylvania Station subway platform. Credit: Credit: William Greene/Getty Images North America/Getty Images

Could the bikers’ crest be a bike symbol for New York City?

As the design space of New York City seems to change with ever greater frequency, from a suburb to the largest city in the world, the bikers’ crest continues to evolve as well. Along with the altered streets, came redesigns for the ferry, the subways, signage, the dustmen, the building, the buses, the taxis and even the planes.

Over the course of all these changes, an increasing number of bikers’ crest stamps are carried by taxis, private citizens and, of course, the privateers.

Iceberg Buzzer

It’s now a common sight in Manhattan to see a bike that bears a bike symbol — a bright red maple leaf, a house — on display. Perhaps the most elaborate is the “Iceberg Buzzer” which displays a biker’s familiar crest along with the official Google Maps icon.

We can’t help but wonder if it’s wise, like the city’s fire code or smoking ban, to regulate where and when you choose to display a crest.

According to Bob Sauerberg, a graphic designer and writer, the bikers’ crest has developed into “a sort of mini-motto.” He explains, “They recognize each other in a sort of logical thread through the city. The crest ties all of them together, which makes sense because the first road was the bikers’ town, and their path to each other started where their path ended.”

It’s one way in New York to celebrate the diversity of bikers while combating a perception of overdriving. It also fosters symbiosis and solidarity.

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