Why Ed Rides

Here’s the latest installment in Streetsblog’s Why I Ride series.

Ed Lederman bike portrait
Photo copyright Dmitry Gudkov

Ed Lederman started riding a bike in New York in 1982. He had just arrived in the city with a dream of becoming a professional photographer and landed his first New York job: cleaning a photographer’s studio. Not long into this lean period, it occurred to him that he could save some money by riding a bike. Ed remembers an urban cycling scene dominated largely by messengers and other thrill-seeking types. Ed was among them: He fondly recalls one of his hobbies, spinning down a quiet Fifth Avenue at 4:30 in the morning, trying to ride a streak of timed green lights.

After a couple of months of sweeping floors, Ed graduated to photo assisting and, a few years later, he struck out on his own. In the past 25 years he has built a successful business as an in-demand New York City architectural and panoramic photographer. One thing that hasn’t changed is his love of navigating New York on a bicycle. His job often had him photographing buildings and construction projects and he usually took a taxi or the subway to the site. Occasionally he rode his bike to scout the location with his camera a day or two before the job. This proved convenient and cheap, and before long he found himself riding all over the city with cameras and a tripod strapped to his back.

When the 2008 economic crisis hit, business slowed down. Finding more time on his hands, Ed decided to launch a personal project: a New York “photo of the day” series. Very often he ventured out in search of the day’s photo on his bike. This was the perfect means to get around: fast enough to cover a good amount of ground, yet versatile enough to allow him to stop and set up a photo anytime. By this point he had been photographing New York professionally for years, yet he says that this new situation taught him to experience and document the city in a new light. The project continued for over 500 days, and the exposure from the series led to new assignments and a resurgence in his business.

Ed’s days of raising hell on Fifth Avenue are behind him; he prefers to ride in bike lanes and puts a premium on comfort over speed, taking in the city at a leisurely pace. After years of buying nice bikes and having them stolen, he finally gave in and bought a flea market beater, the Panasonic seen here. The theft deterrence plan is working so far – once or twice he forgot to bring a lock with him and returned to find his ride untouched. No doubt Ed will continue to explore and document the city he loves, and he will do much of it from the saddle of his bike.


Why Luis Rides

Here’s the latest installment (after an extended hiatus) in Streetsblog’s Why I Ride series. Luis is a building super and handyman. After moving to New York from Chile in the 1980s he started riding a bike right away, commuting from his home on Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn. He now lives in the Lower East Side, closer […]

Why Manny Rides

Here’s the seventh portrait in Streetsblog’s weekly “Why I Ride” series. Originally from the Bronx, Manny now lives in Queens. All told, he’s lived in New York for 58 years and has been cycling here for about 50 of them. During that time he has had about half a dozen bikes, two of which he […]

Why Wilson Rides

Here’s the fourth portrait in Streetsblog’s weekly “Why I Ride” series. Don’t let the business casual wear fool you – Wilson rides fast, even when commuting home from the office. It took me a minute or two to catch up to him on the East River Esplanade but once I did, he was more than […]

The Invisible People on Bikes Right in Front of Our Eyes

Today from Streetsblog Network member Honking in Traffic, an important reality check about a mostly overlooked segment of the bicycling population — people who ride bikes out of economic necessity and not necessarily by choice. These aren’t the oft-lauded "bike commuters" who ride for a sense of freedom and with at least some intention to […]

Why Damon Rides

Streetsblog is pleased to run the first in a series of bike-share-themed “Why I Ride” profiles by photographer Dmitry Gudkov… Damon is an attorney living in New Rochelle and working in the Financial District. He likes to ride a bike at home on weekends, but has not done much cycling in Manhattan. He came into […]

Why Julio Rides

Here’s the latest portrait in Streetsblog’s “Why I Ride” series. Julio has been working as a building superintendent for 15 years. During that time he has found that a bike is the best way to move between the 10 properties he supervises. He lives in Alphabet City and had at one point considered using his […]