In Memoriam: James Langergaard, Bike Philosopher
On Friday night, August 14th, James Langergaard was killed by a car crossing Queens Boulevard. According to his family, witnesses told police that James ran a red light on his bike and died instantly. James was 38.
I have known James since 1997 when he and I were volunteers at Transportation Alternatives. Over the years we volunteered together for many events, went on countless rides & hikes, and in general just enjoyed talking with each other about the world and bicycling, almost always in a humorous (and sometimes absurd) manner.
It was one of those fun brainstorming sessions between us that led to the idea that James would become the official "bicycling philosopher" for bikeTV - the cable access show I produced from 2001 thru 2006. Thus I present: "What is the essence of cycling?" which we filmed in 2005 while at a Central Park volunteer appreciation party for workers and marshals of the T.A. Century. James' wit and humor are on big display here as he questions people about bicycling and why they do it, then cleverly encapsulates their thoughts.
In a world full of lots of uninteresting people, James was always had something off-beat or quirky to say. He could make you laugh, and laugh hard. Without James, the world just got a whole lot more boring.
James Langergaard: [00:23] Once again ladies and gentlemen, I am the bicycling philosopher on bike TV, and we’re here at the Transportation Alternatives volunteer appreciation party discussing with people who all appreciate the existence of bicycles here, now to discuss the essence of bicycling. What to you sir is the essence of all things bicycling in New York?
Speaker: [00:43] Essence of bicycling is becoming one with the bicycle. It’s about moving fluidly through space, through the people and the environment around you. It’s being like watching things happen and making things happen.
James Langergaard: [00:56] Fluidity of motion.
Speaker: [00:57] The essence of bicycling in New York City?
James Langergaard: [01:00] The first thing that comes to your mind, the most important thing.
Speaker: [01:03] You have to think and act like you’re driving a car.
James Langergaard: [01:07] You’re better than if you were driving a car aren’t you?
Speaker: [01:11] Oh definitely.
Speaker: [01:12] Freedom.
James Langergaard: [01:16] Fantastic.
Speaker: [01:18] Enjoying your surroundings, really enjoying being part of New York and getting to see different parts. Today I went up to Westchester, it was beautiful, got to ride, have a nice picnic outdoors, and come back and now I’m back in the city. It’s just a great way to spend the day.
James Langergaard: [01:33] You can be everywhere all at the same time. It’s an epicurean delight to be… to have a bicycle in New York.
Speaker: [01:39] Freedom to just go and drive where cars can’t drive and the wind blowing in your hair and all that good stuff.
James Langergaard: [01:51] Once again bicycling is about freedom. Never underestimate the value of freedom.
Speaker: [01:57] You can feel your heart beating. Your senses are engaged. You feel like you’re alive. And here we are in Central Park, we’re alive today.
James Langergaard: [02:06] The lifeblood of the universe coursing through us as we embrace bicycling.
Speaker: [02:11] I bike, therefore I am.
James Langergaard: [02:14] A courtesean answer like I never would have expected. It’s wonderful.
Speaker: [02:19] It’s the feeling of getting on your bike at 4:30 in the morning when the streets of Brooklyn are still so quiet you could hear a pin drop, and the mist slowly rising through the trees and all you can hear is the sound of your wheels and pedals, click, click, whirr, click, click, whirr, click, click, whirr.
James Langergaard: [02:47] Ominous feeling.
Speaker: [02:50] Well, it’s a great way to be outside enjoying the weather like a day like today. You can’t beat that on a bike. That’s the best thing you can do on a bike.
James Langergaard: [02:57] Bicycling, it’s a force of nature.
Speaker: [03:00] Being in touch with the space you live in. It’s getting outside of the cubicle. It’s getting outside of the office. It’s getting outside of the room. It’s getting outside of your house and getting outside of your head.
James Langergaard: [03:10] Once again, a vote for freedom, and being in touch with all things tangible of our own personal environment. It’s just overwhelming.
Speaker: [03:20] Bicycling in New York City brings different neighbourhoods together for me, cos when I take the subway I pop in one place and pop out in another place, and when I arrive it all comes together as a whole, and brings everything together. It’s makes it really beautiful.
James Langergaard: [03:37] A sense of community that you can only find through bicycling.
Speaker: [03:40] A sense of freedom. A sense of empowerment. Being able to do things the way you want to.
James Langergaard: [03:46] [unintelligible 03:48] and much better philosophers than I have debated the body of freedom throughout the ages, but today we seem to have it. Bicycling, it’s all about freedom.Transcription Sponsored by: Transcript Divas Transcription Services