NEW YORK – Suddenly New York City is crawling with bikes. It was a slow trend, but cycling in the city went from the domain of the original “Fast and the Furious” crew, the all- powerful and much feared (by me) bike messengers to that of health and environmentally conscious residents looking for an MTA alternative. They’ve become a living street art all on their own, plain or fancy, Citibike blue or simply silver, with endless varieties of gear and helmets on their riders.
Mexican artist Gilberto Aceves Navarro was way ahead of New York. He sees as a solution to Mexico City’s famous traffic and crowded subways. His sculpture series, “Las Bicicletas,” first installed in Mexico City in 2008, is spending the summer in New York City, with some help with the New York City Department of Transportation’s Art Program, and NYC Parks’ Arts in the Park program.
More than 120 cheerful red and white bikes are installed in ten locations around Manhattan and Brooklyn. They are clustered together on black platforms, and all include riders of varying shapes and sizes, some with long, Gumby-like arms, others hunched over, with shorted limbs, looking a little bit tired in posture, but still resolutely biking away.
For reasons beyond the reach of my own arm-chair psycho-analysis, I find street art makes animals, concepts, or objects that make me nervous, into something thought provoking, approachable, even, in the case of my much-discussed birds, adorable. Navarro’s bikes, in their own small way, take the edge of my fear of two-wheeled vehicles and the people who ride them.
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