Updated: Oct 25, 2018
East New York resident, Ian Lyn has served as the official Bike East photographer since the tour’s inception in 2014. A veteran MTA bus driver 26 years and avid cyclists since college, he actually rides his bike to transfer to different hubs during the day. In July 2018, Ian talked to The Brown Bike Girl about his cycling evolution, goals, favorite photos, and observations from the bus drivers' seat.
Do you know this face? Maybe he looks different because he's not wearing spandex on a road bike while effortlessly balancing a camera in one hand and bag of lens on his back, but it's Ian Lyn - the official photographer from Bike East. From the fit appearance and his aboundingly energetic demeanor, you'd never guess that Ian Lyn sits for living as NYC public transit bus driver!
In this city where noone has to think too hard to remember their last encounter with a transit employee who barely made eye contact, let alone crack a smile, Ian credits his ability to hold an upbeat demeanor with his connection to cycling (along with the
love for his wife and two daughters. The youngest who sometimes bikes with him.) He chooses to be a bike commuter to get places faster than traffic, while choosing cyclng overall to keep in shape.
On the day of this interview Ian met me in Downtown Brooklyn after briskly commuting 9 miles between his first bus route in East NY to the one that leaves him closest to his youngest daughters' school at the end of the workday. His bike of choice for commuting is the same all steel blue bike flat-bar hybrid bike he's been riding since 1999.
By today's bike standards of ultra-light metals and carbon, his steel bike is heavy, and therefore slower. But steel is also highly durable. So Lyn continues to appreciate the beating that his original steed can endure in traffic conditions that sometimes require shrewd moves such as jumping a curb. (Not recommended, but also not foreign to this former bike messenger.)
Speaking of traffic, I was eager to learn about how a cyclist who is a bus driver views other cyclists from behind the bus steering wheel. Perhaps a cyclist-driver would have a more compassionate view of other bikers? The answer: In his way.
Being a cyclist, Lyn definitely feels that he extendeds more patience toward cyclists as they manuever past his bus, though he also credits MTA training for teaching bus drivers to maintain road safety by thinking two steps ahead. (Pro tip from Ian: The blindspot tends to be anywhere along the busses' right side, so steer clear.) Ultimately, however, Lyn shares the same view that lots of drivers have - that the cyclists are, in fact, "out of control" in terms of lawfulness. Many, he perceives, to be tourists who do not understand NYC's bike laws such as not biking on the sidewalk.
And with hundreds of trips of made on the same routes in two starkly differently developed neighborhoods -- Downtown Brooklyn with extensive bike lanes and high commuter traffic vs. East Brooklyn that is just receiving bike network in the last 5 years -- Lyn actually has acquired a lot of revealing insights about the ways people move in different places and his theories behind why this happens:
As he moves through Brooklyn, Lyn says, there is a noticeable shift in the types of cycling and cycling behavior that he defines according to his own system.
As recently as August 2017 Ian added a his first road bike to his stable and has since quickly begun to embrace group ride culture by building a bucket list of NYC's legendary organized group bike tours to complete. Just months after his upgrade, he ticked off much celebrated Five Boro Bike Tour in May.
Now, after being inspired by a church member who bagged the accomplishment last year (read about cycling soul sister Gena Griffin here), Ian has his sights set on completing his first consequetive 100 mile trip (known as a "century") in Transportation Alternative's 29th annual NYC Century.
Some of Ian Lyn's favorite photographs from Bike East over the years. You can follow his photography online on Instagram: @ianlynphotography