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Brooklyn Unicycle Day unites fans of one-wheelers

for The Brooklyn Paper

Riding a unicycle isn’t all fun and games.

Brooklyn Unicycle Day may have seemed like a light-hearted celebration of all things one-wheeled, but unicyclists’ rights are always on event organizer Keith Nelson’s mind.

“I’ve seen cops harassing unicyclists and not knowing the law,” said Nelson, a unicycling activist and founder of the Bindlestiff Family Circus. “They’ve been harassed for riding in the bike lane or on the sidewalk. There’s nothing defining where they can be.”

But on Aug. 31, unicycles were everywhere.

The third annual fest — which is partly a recreational ride and partly a rally intended to increase the visibility of the often-mocked method of transportation — began with a procession of one-wheelers across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Then the pedal-pushers navigated 13 long miles across the borough to Brooklyn’s most iconic wheel: Deno’s Wonder Wheel in Coney Island.

Once at the foot of the famed Ferris wheel, the unicyclists showed their skills, from circus-oriented theatrics to skateboarding-influenced tricks.

There’s no official unicycle lobby, so Nelson is hoping that the attention from his ride and the New York City Unicyclist Festival on Governor’s Island last weekend will help more Brooklynites discover the joy of commuting on one wheel.

“It’s a great mode of transportation,” said Nelson.

“And they’re designing them to go longer distances now — they’ve got 29- and 36-inch wheels now and people are going 25 or 30 miles on them.”

Considering that bicyclists are still struggling to secure their rights on the road, true unicycle equality is probably a long way off, even the most dedicated riders admit.

“I suppose if there were hoards of unicyclers all over the city, the city would have to figure out what to do with us.” said circus performer Viveca Gardiner, who has been riding a unicycle on and off since she was a child. “Right now, we’re excluded.”

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Reader Feedback

Buffy from Circusville says:
It's a stupid mode of transportation, for clowns.
Sept. 7, 2012, 11:17 am
Malembi from BK says:
how ——ing gay is this?
Sept. 7, 2012, 12:28 pm
Dizz Rigsby says:
Borat! - Is that you?
Sept. 7, 2012, 1:44 pm
Rob from Williamsburg says:
Hey Malembi-
how --ing fat are you?
Sept. 7, 2012, 3:36 pm
Rufus Leaking from Around says:
“I suppose if there were hoards of unicyclers all over the city, the city would have to figure out what to do with us.”

Oh, we have, we have!
Sept. 7, 2012, 3:47 pm
Kyle from Clinton Hill says:
Malembi, Brooklyn is an enlightened place. Take your homophobia to Staten Island where it belongs. Buffy, you've never tried it and you don't know anything. Unicyclists unite against uniphobic bigotry!
Sept. 7, 2012, 3:55 pm
Malembi from BK says:
I'm 6 foot one and weigh 155 pounds. You're calling an entire borough homophobic? Why don't you take the seat off your uni——er and post ride down a bumpy hill? Also, I am a homosexual so there's that. Unicycles are ——ing gay, and every time I see some —— in Brooklyn riding one I want to punch them.
Sept. 7, 2012, 9:09 pm
Rufus Leaking from Around says:
Unicycle! I thought you said Unicorn!
Sept. 7, 2012, 9:56 pm

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