Celebs Say “Don’t Be A Jerk” in Bike Safety Campaign

Clueless celebrities on bikes commit every possible violation, including riding the wrong way, running red lights and pedaling on sidewalks, in a series of public safety ads designed to remind New Yorkers about cycling rules.

The Department of Transportation unveiled Tuesday a new bike safety ad campaign highlighting the rules of safe riding, and it's no gentle nudge encouraging cyclists to play by the rules.

Instead, the campaign -- called "Don't Be A Jerk" -- features celebrities Mario Batali, John Leguizamo and Paulina Porizkova on their bikes as they ride throughout New York City exhibiting the kind of egregious cycling that incurs the wrath of pedestrians and drivers.

Batali is seen, in his trademark orange Crocs, riding against traffic in the bike lanes; Leguizamo barrels through pedestrians on the sidewalk; Porizkova flies past red traffic lights and stop signs.

And the angry refrain hurled at each of them from bystanders in each of the spots: "Jerk!"

Each ad closes with the words on the screen, "Don't be a jerk."

The campaign is meant to "humorously highlight the essential dos and don'ts of safe, responsible biking," said DOT.

Leguizamo's spot is arguably the funniest. Sporting a tracksuit windbreaker, he swaggers to his bike stationed outside Bryant Park, strapping on his helmet. He swings onto his bicycle and takes off down the sidewalk, obliviously commanding pedestrians to get out of his way.

Faced with no choice but to oblige, they shout "jerk!" after him (including DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan) -- until Leguizamo encounters a pre-teen boy in braces and sweatshirt.

"John!" the boy chides. "If you're over the age of 12, you can't bike on the sidewalk."

"I've got an appointment to go to, I'm late," Leguizamo counters.

"Don't be a jerk," the boy returns with a disapproving look.

"Don't call me names," Leguizamo retorts. But the actor gets off the bike and obliges.

"I'm doing it, I'm doing it... I'm off the bike!" 

DOT said commuter cycling has bloomed in recent years, and with more bikes on the road, the time is ripe for reinforcing the message of making streets safer for everyone using them.

"Don't Be a Jerk" is part of DOT's larger Bike Smart initiative, designed to educate cyclists and other road users about sharing the streets and roadways safely. DOT is distributing 1,500 bike bells purchased with money from federal grants and continues to fit and distribute free bike helmets at events citywide.

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