“To ride in New York City is to know the town in a special way, to have a level of authority over an otherwise untamed landscape,” filmmaker Casey Neistat writes in the forward to New York Bike Style, a new street style photography book dedicated to a New Yorker’s most coveted accessory: the bicycle. “Rather than surrendering to the confines of a public transportation system,” he continues, “the cyclist alone is in charge of their journey.”
Photographer Sam Polcer, who maintains the blog Preferred Mode has captured this unique experience, photographing cyclists in their most comforting habitat, regardless of whether they are actually in Chelsea or the Bronx, Brooklyn or the Lower East Side. By exploring how, and why, others to choose to ride, Polcer discovered the style, creativity, and individuality of people in New York City. There are “Puerto Rican Schwinn aficionados celebrating their heritage with vintage bikes,” he writes; “fixed gear freaks who eat, sleep and breathe drop handlebars; BMX kids honing their bar spins at skate parks that they maintain themselves; fashionistas floating down leaf-strewn streets in capes and dresses.” Despite their differences, they all seek the accessibility and freedom that a bicycle can provide in an overcrowded, insanely busy city.
People’s rides—whether a 1932 Schwinn Firestone Warrior or a Raleigh Roadster 8-speed—can express personality and style as well as any standard fashion accessory. From musician and author David Byrne and his custom Jamis Commuter to Neena in her camouflage tee and yellow beanie riding to meet friends at the Chrome store, here’s a look at some of Polcer’s most diverse and stylish cyclists.