Watch: Bike to Work Week TV Advertisement From 1993

New York in 1993 has been a topic of discussion since the New Museum opened its exhibit exploring the city of two decades ago. Now, another time capsule has been unearthed: a promotional video from Transportation Alternatives inviting New Yorkers to take part in Bike to Work Week.

While some things have remained the same — bike commuters can still score some free coffee and breakfast on Friday morning — the city’s streets and physical landscape have changed. Noah Budnick from Transportation Alternatives and Clarence Eckerson from Streetfilms both pointed out that some of the video was shot along the West Side Highway before Hudson River Park was built on land that had been parking lots.

For more information on the 2013 edition of Bike to Work Day, you don’t have to pick up your landline and call TA’s office. Instead, direct your computer (or phone) to the Bike to Work Day website for the complete schedule.

  • ADN

    The clothing, the helmets, the video quality, the Twin Towers… 1993 was my first year in NYC. It really looks like a different era already. Seems like yesterday. Sigh.

  • Ridge Wrench

    Dave Perry never lived in Queens!

  • Ridge Wrench

    Dave Perry never lived in Queens!

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    I know right? Nothing like the good old days. And that video quality is primo, tip-top VHS quality, only the best. Don’t forget to rewind it.

    Was that guy riding on the Hudson bikeway? Looked like balls compared to what it is now. 1993 was the year when the Greenway Master Plan was introduced, I think greenways have a bigger meaning now than before, and biking in general. Back then, bikes were for kids and brave guys on 6 Avenue, but now it has taken more a grassroots and more utilitarian role in transport, compared to cars, which is a good thing. Central Park and the Manhattan Waterfront Greenways are full of families all riding bikes leisurely, which I think was the original intent when they drafted the maps up.

  • moocow

    But saying “Palo Alto” doesn’t make sense!

  • Ben Kintisch

    I love this! The comments below remind me how the good facilities we have now (Greenways, protected bike lanes, sort-of built out bike lane networks) are a relatively recent development that was the result of years and years of hard work and planning. Right now, friends who dreamed of a Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway are seeing their dreams included in a DOT capital plan, which means it will come true in the coming years. Even the somewhat quixotic dream of a Verrazano Bridge ped/bike path is something we start on now and work on for years to come….until we realize the next batch of dreams!

  • Eric McClure

    Nice to see Irene Van Slyke representing Brooklyn in 1993 — and still doing so today. I was still three years short of being a Brooklynite 20 years ago.

  • ADN

    Oh, wow. I knew I recognized her but I couldn’t put a name on the face.

  • Anonymous

    “Bikes were for kids”? Huh? If you mean children, no way. And
    your remark about grassroots/utilitarian is incomprehensible, at least
    in my grammar system. Explain?

  • Anonymous

    Reminds me of the San Giorgio commercial…

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    Yeah, back then bikes were for kids, like me. I rode them in the park for fun. But to ride in the street, the difficulty curve went from easy to expert. Mainly because drivers had an iron clad on the road, bike infrastructure was nearly non-existent. I only knew of two bike lanes (on-street), not including greenways, in 1993, one on 6 Avenue and one in Queens. Now it’s different, there are more cyclists on the road, and the infrastructure is better so much that it allows people to start increasing their bike riding skills.

    Grassroots as in more community boards are open to new bike infrastructure, and the bicycle has taken a more cultural prominence on the local level up. I brought it up because I went to Burger King here in Queens Blvd and they when they redid it, they added two real mountain bikes on the wall as ornaments, which I thought was cool.

    Utilitarian as in where cities and people are now seeing the bicycle not just for leisure but as a viable form of transport, so much that many major cities have bike share for that reason.

  • Joe R.

    I was riding all over the place from 1978 onwards despite the lack of bike lanes. That included some utility rides of 20 miles each way. I personally liked riding back then more than I do now. Traffic levels were somewhat lower. More importantly, the city hadn’t yet gone totally insane putting up traffic signals everywhere. Generally where I lived you had them only where arterials intersected each other, instead of on almost every block. Queens Blvd. for example used to be a great road where I could average 20 mph without too much trouble. Eventually they put parking on both sides of the service road. They also added way too many poorly coordinated traffic signals. Same thing with other formerly great bike routes. The best thing though was the police never ticketed bikes. You could ride back and forth on the sidewalk right in front of cops and they wouldn’t even care.

    We may have the bike lanes now in some select areas of the city. In many other places there’s still little or no bike infrastructure beyond a handful of door-zone bike lanes. In many cases there’s so much traffic it’s a chore to ride. I haven’t been able to ride during the day for years, except on weekends, thanks to the heavy traffic levels. It wasn’t this way 25 years ago. I personally couldn’t care less about bike lanes. Just reduce traffic levels, get rid of traffic signals and riding in most of the city will be a pleasure.

  • Big change from the opening cover photo of cyclists eating bagels and coffee on the City Hall Steps, picked up from a table at the foot of the steps.

    Once Emperor Giulius the Rude made City Hall his Imperial Palace, it’s been impossible for anyone to enter or cross the parking, sit on the City Hall steps or simply drop into our City Hall. The nearest alternative space is the sidewalk across from the Brooklyn Bridge, which for Bike To Work Day is on a lot of cyclists critical paths.

    Access to some places and things we were loosing even before 9/11. It’s only gotten weirder since.

  • guestnyc

    I feel bicycling in NYC will become more pleasant as more bike lanes/paths are constructed, congestion pricing is finally introduced, more aggressive traffic calming like Slow Zones expand, and finally more riders take the streets (bike share will help).

  • Joe R.

    That’s another of my pet peeves. It used to be when the city had big events like New Year at Time Square you could go and spontaneously mix with the crowd. Now they pen everyone up like animals in the name of security. Hopefully that will be a thing of the past soon. I haven’t gone to big events in a long time because frankly the security measures sap all the joy out of it. And like the TSA searches, all they do is give the appearance of making things safer-in reality they don’t.

  • Anonymous

    OK, thanks!

  • Anonymous

    It’s not a “pet” peeve, if you ask me, Joe R. Not to be grandiose, but quite seriously, I think the whole right-to-assemble situation in this town needs to be seriously re-examined. Anyone interested in working on this? (You know, so I can get involved in yet another cause where I just tell activists what *I* think they should they should do, but don’t actually do anything myself?) (But seriously….)

  • Joe R.

    Yes, you’re right. Maybe it’s time for me to write a few letters to start the ball rolling. I totally agree the current situation is unacceptable.

  • I see the “only white people bike” thing has been around for 20 years



On Eve of National Bike Summit, A Renewed Push for Separated Bike Lanes

The National Bike Summit begins tomorrow, bringing together an estimated 750 cycling advocates. They’ll hear from NYCDOT Chief Janette Sadik-Khan, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and they’ll descend on Congress in droves, plastic bike pins fastened to their lapels, to deliver a message about safe cycling access. Don’t look to AASHTO’s […]