Saved by the Bike

It’s easy to feel superhuman when you’re cycling—the wind on your face, street signs flying past, swooping and swerving around obstacles—but that’s all make-believe when compared to the actions of these two-wheeled heroes.

Image Courtesy whiskeygonebad
Tens of thousands of New Yorkers rose to the occasion in the days following the tragic events of September 11, 2001. At least a few helping hands belonged to a bike messenger named John Harris and his riding buddies. They used their detailed knowledge of the city’s streets to sneak down to the rescue-and-recovery site in the immediate aftermath. They helped in whatever way they could: digging, searching and doing what they do best: carrying supplies to first responders with remarkable speed.

Image Courtesy FDNY
New York’s Bravest
Firefighter Randy Regan was riding his bike along the Hudson River Greenway from his Manhattan apartment to Ladder Company 20 in SoHo when he spotted something out of the ordinary at 79th Street: a figure in the water. Without missing a beat, he hopped off his bike, asked some bystanders to call 911, and headed for a swim in the 48-degree river. A few minutes later, he was back on shore with a woman who was cold and disoriented but safe. When paramedics and police arrived at the scene, Regan left them the firehouse phone number and hopped back on his bike: he didn’t want to be late for work.

Born to Ride
For the past 15 years, Janaki Joshi has ridden her bike to work every day, from her house on the outskirts of a remote village in the Kailai District in the far-west of Nepal to the local health facility. There she starts a long day of counseling and patient visits, mostly with young women and new mothers. Occasionally, she’ll take a break to bring a baby into the world, and then it’s back to her counseling and her patient visits, and then it’s back on her bike. And then it’s back to work to do it all again.

Image Courtesy bandita
It was an unseasonably warm Sunday in March and Kevin Pratt, a 31-year-old nursing student, was taking a break from his bike ride along the banks of the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon, when he saw a swimmer start to falter in the strong current. Pratt quickly stripped down to his bike shorts and swam out to save the man, who was unresponsive by the time he was dragged to shore. Another passerby and Pratt began CPR, managing to bring the injured swimmer back to life by the time paramedics arrived. “It was just one of those situations where you act on instinct,” Pratt told reporters later that day. “You just know what has to be done. I just knew I had to get to that guy. I’m thankful that I could help out.”

Image Courtesy BackBoris2012
Mayoral Authority
Eighteen months after being elected Mayor of London, Boris Johnson was cycling home through Camden Town when he heard Franny Armstrong cry for help. The documentary filmmaker had been pushed against a car and surrounded by a group of teenage girls brandishing a heavy iron bar. Mayor Johnson surveyed the scene and swooped into the fray, scaring the hoodlums and saving Armstrong. He even hopped back on his bike to give chase.