Chatting in the East Village
No time to write so some more photos from my trip to NY. This is on the corner of 6th and A in the East Village (the best breakfast place in NY is the 7A on 7th and A). I used to live on 8th and B eighteen years ago, and I always try and take in breakfast at the 7A when I am in town. I was walking around the neighborhood, which has been cleaned up dramatically since I lived there, when I came across a little outdoor stage with a jazz band playing. The couple in the photograph were hanging out nearby.
Single speed bikes like this are the new toy for urban hipsters. Even in hilly San Francisco they are very common. Simple, sleek, light and elegant, almost maintenance free. In relatively flat NY they are the perfect commuter vehicle. Most often the rear gear is fixed, i.e you can't coast, no freewheel. This means the bikes often do not have brakes, or at most a front brake (in this case a rear brake). You slow down by slowing your pedaling. This takes a little time to fully master, but it makes for a very efficient pedaling stroke when you switch back to a freewheel bike. You have to be able to pedal around corners and downhill, when many on freewheel bikes would coast.
Not wearing a helmet seems to be the norm when riding a fixie. Helmets will never make you look cool, but I've witnessed many bike crashes where severe head trauma was avoided by wearing one, and seeing people ride on busy city streets without one makes me cringe.