All photos by Scott Lynch
Nov 1, 2021
Scenes from this year’s ‘Bike Kill’ event in Red Hook
Mad Max meets the Green Knight on two wheels at this annual event featuring bespoke spokes, costumes ... and bicycle jousting
Bike Kill is a raucous annual celebration of Brooklyn’s underground, DIY, anarchist spirit, started in 2003 by the Black Label Bicycle Club, and, if the huge turnout at Saturday’s block party in Red Hook is any indication, that late-pandemic spirit remains strong.
One of Brooklyn’s longer-running Halloween traditions, Bike Kill is always held on the last Saturday in October. The location often changes (I’ve been to eight Bike Kills now, at six different spots) and although you kind of have to know someone to find out where it is each year, the event is fiercely inclusive, and all are welcome to attend.
The venue on Saturday was the same as in 2019: on a dead end in Red Hook with walled-off construction sites on either side of the street, and no nearby neighbors to disturb.
Most of the activity here involves the dozens of mutant bikes that the Black Label crew create and maintain and haul to the party every year. There are tall bikes, tiny bikes, stupid bikes, bizarre bikes, bikes that are impossible (for most) to ride, bikes with surfboards, trailers, battering rams and crushers attached, and, making its debut on Saturday, a crazy comfy couch bike.
At Bike Kill, when revelers aren’t standing around drinking and laughing and hugging old friends (and strangers), they are riding these crazy bespoke spokes in endless loops. Harrowing spills and crashes are part of the fun.
The narrow block, which will go nameless here in case they want to use it again, is perfect for taking leisurely laps and, uh, smashing into each other. The NYPD showed up a few times over the course of seven hours, but mostly let the revelers alone.
In keeping with the trend of everyone getting a little older as the years go by, there were more kids at Bike Kill this year than ever before, and they were more than happy to ride around by themselves, with their parents, or with random grown-ups. There aren’t really any organized activities during the day, but one tradition remains firm: the festivities end with a tall-bike jousting tournament, much to the delight of the well-lubricated crowd.
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