By Jefferson Siegel
Just before the start of Fashion Week, dozens of neon-orange-painted bicycles appeared around the city chained to lampposts. Stenciled on each was the Web site address for the fashion company DKNY.
Bicycle activists took umbrage, decrying the orange bikes for bearing an unfortunate resemblance to the white ghost bikes that memorialize cyclists killed by motor vehicles, which are placed by the Street Memorial Project. In short, it was a knockoff, as imitations are known in the fashion industry.
Within days many of the orange bikes were vandalized some even sawed completely in half or removed. Police removed some chained to city property.
Last Friday, Fashion Weeks last day, cycling activists brought their protest to the steps of Bryant Park on Sixth Ave., the events epicenter.
First one cyclist approached, chaining an orange bike to the banister. Mounted on the bike was a sign reading, Biking is in Fashion and DKNY demands safe bike lanes.
Other activists then approached, several on orange bikes specially prepared for the protest. They staged a mini-battle between a cardboard Mercedes-Benz (Fashion Weeks sponsor) and a cyclist dressed in faux leopard skin mimicking a fashion model.
As people stopped to watch, the bicycle ultimately crushed the car as the cyclists chanted, More bikes, less cars.
Fashion is all about fantasy, said Zach Weinstein, a Greenwich Village activist. If we can dream and fantasize about fashion, why cant we dream and fantasize about something important like global warming?
Its great that DKNY is promoting cycling on their Web site, said Barbara Ross, a volunteer with Times Up! The next step is for them to actually work with local cycling groups that are actively contributing to making the streets safer.
On DKNYs Web site there is a drawing of an orange bike with the words Explore Your City. On The New York Times City Room blog, a statement from DKNY says, in part, DKNY has placed dozens of bright orange bicycles around the city to get people thinking and talking about bicycles as a healthy and fashionable way to get around the city.