A specter is haunting New York City streets—the specter of Sean Avery. In recent months, the former New York Rangers agitator has mounted an increasingly brash, occasionally violent crusade to clear the city's bike lanes and sidewalks of inconsiderate drivers, or anyone else who happens to be in his way. His vigilante exploits, posted regularly on Instagram since April, are sometimes funny and relatable, but often needlessly cruel and tasteless. This will not come as a surprise to anyone who's followed Sean Avery's career.
But in the absence of a bike mayor—or a full-time regular mayor, for that matter—a leadership vacuum has emerged, and the ex-hockey hothead has rushed in to fill it. Calling himself Officer Avery, he's been fairly transparent about his quest to become the city's most visible bike lane enforcer.
He made progress toward that goal on Monday, earning headlines after receiving a desk appearance ticket for allegedly crashing his scooter into a car that was blocking a West Village bike lane. Leaving the courthouse, he was interviewed by a Post reporter (he in turn filmed her, interviewing him) and spouted off a not-quite-coherent speech about Mel Gibson and Braveheart and the war for cyclists' freedom.
In response to an unrelated question, he told the reporter, "If I need to be the poster boy for defending the bike lanes, I will absolutely do that." Many people thought this was just great, including Avery himself. "I'm going to get so many more Instagram followers," he declared later, pointing the camera at himself as he stalked the streets of lower Manhattan.
But cyclists, pedestrians, and safe streets advocates do not want this guy on their posters. Throughout his decade-long hockey career, Avery's MO was picking fights and ginning up controversy for offensive and possibly racist comments. A quick scan of his feed shows very little has changed since he traded the skates for two wheels.
Take, for example, him deeming this man a "fucking animal" and mocking his appearance for reasons that are never really explained.
Or him calling this person, who appears to be homeless, the "biggest asshole on the planet." (also part of a series.)
Of course, ensuring that cyclists have a safe place to ride is important, and it'd be great to have a fearless retired celebrity with lots of time on their hands to do the work that cops so often ignore. But it's also worth considering that, for many people, biking is still associated with entitled, wealthy, white dudes—a perception best combated by opening the space up to others in any manner possible. Whatever Officer Avery is doing, it sure isn't that.
Or to put it in language that Avery understands: "Hey you stupid fuck, put your fucking cell phone down and pay attention to your fucking surroundings while you're riding around in traffic before you get yourself or someone else killed. Why don't you get an actual fucking job instead bullying people on Instagram like some bloated, washed up loser auditioning for a reality show?"