For one thing: "Never assume they see you."
That's not a tribal chant at the beginning of "Lessons For the Novice New Yorker: Biking." It is a low voice saying bikiiiiiiing against a drum beat that sounds more like two hands slapping either an impressively tight abdomen or a couple of thighs.
So this brief video from writer and filmmaker Ethan H. Minsker (via Animal) lacks a bit in production value. But it makes up for that in pragmatism. In about two minutes, Minsker delivers several pro tips for New York's new bicycle riders with a touch of condescension ("I feel a lot of you idiots don't know how to bike in the greatest city in the world, NEW YORK CITY!") but also plenty of self-effacement. At one point, for instance, he breaks into this (hopefully impromptu) song:
Bicyclists are the nicest.
You beat the traffic and sure are good to the environment.
Who needs subways or taxis when you've got your footsies?
Not likely to replace whatever Taylor Swift track is running through your head anytime soon, but endearing. The whole video is worth a quick watch if you plan on cycling-up in Gotham for the first time. But if not, we've run down the key points.
There Is a Bicycle Rider Hierarchy
At the top is people on fixed-gear bikes, who "think they are oh so cool." Then come delivery cyclists, who are "reckless" and often ride electric bikes that Minsker feels "should not be in the bike lane." Then there are Citi Bike patrons, considered by Minsker the "bane of the biking society" because the bikes are slow and the bike-share users are novices. (Which, we can't help but note, seems a bit harsh for a video explicitly intended for beginners.)
Your Bike Is Your Baby
Minsker has a fold-up bike, which makes him a "nerd biker." Over a montage of stripped bikes left to die on the sidewalk he offers the following advice: "If your bike is your baby, then don't leave your baby alone on the streets of New York." Touché.
Watch for Unexpected Bike Lane Obstacles
These include police cars, construction trucks, taxis, tourists unloading shopping bags, or any other vehicles or activities blocking the bike lane. Speaking of traffic in general, Minsker offers this sound wisdom: "Never assume they see you."
... Especially Pedestrians
He has some especially tough words for pedestrians. Don't talk on your cell phone while standing in the bike lane. Don't emerge from in between parked cars into the bike lane. Don't stand at the crosswalk in the bike lane. Just stay out of the bike lane, OK?
2 More Tips We Can't Endorse and 3 We Can
Minsker frowns upon rider hand signals that don't involve a certain centrally located digit, and he calls red lights a "suggestion." Obviously we can't endorse either practice, but he does come through with three additional worthy suggestions. Never ride on the sidewalk. Never ride in the wrong direction. And strongly consider a helmet.
Let's add one more: no more bike-related tribal chants, please.