On July 26 it will become mandatory for commercial bicyclists, such as delivery people and messengers like myself, to wear helmets during work hours. (Check out Bloomberg and the powers that be talk about the issues in the YouTube clip below.) It will also be required that we have lights on both the front and back of our bikes, a bell and working breaks. That’s right, say goodbye to your brakeless fixed gears my friends. Safety posters, available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Russian, must also be displayed in commercial businesses that use bicyclists—so you have a constant reminder of the rules you break daily.
In order to get everyone geared up for the new laws, the city had a “Get Fitted” Day in June where Target sponsored the giving away of 1,000 helmets in Central Park. While the law only applies to working commercial bicyclists, the free helmets were available to all. Sweet.
Though the law is said to be for the safety of us hardworking bicyclists, many messengers feel this is just another way for police to unfairly crack down on two-wheeled employees. Like in the 1980s when New York officials set a law (which failed miserably!) that required messengers to wear a visible ID number and company name on their bag. This was intended to deter naughty messengers from rule-breaking, but all it did was cause more harassment for them and decrease traffic enforcement. If the city is so concerned with our safety, perhaps it could work on keeping the bike lanes clear of parked cars and trucks. What? They are? Oh. Well, good.