New York Daily Photo Analytics

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Urban Bike Polo

I really thought I was witnessing something relatively new, probably developed in NYC. An urban styled twist on a classic sport. But as it turns out, Bike Polo, Cycle Polo or Bicycle Polo has been around since the late 1800s. Itwas invented in Ireland in 1891 by Richard J.Mecredy and played as early as 1900 by the British army and the Indian Maharajas. It is a relatively formalized sport, played on a court (typically grass) with various rules and regulations governing play and equipment. This is the sober, suburban version - click here for the U.S. Bicycle Polo Association. The game I ran across (shown in the photo) was in the Sara D. Roosevelt Park in the Lower East Side - click here for more photos. What we are seeing here is Urban Bike Polo, a much rougher variation with fewer rules and equipment which has evolved for the urban environment with traffic cones for goal posts, street hockey balls, plastic mallets, and, most often, track bikes (fixed gear). It's bike messenger style meets polo. And as I read further, I found, of course, that there is a world associated with this activity - websites, newspaper and magazine articles, equipment vendors, teams, clubs, championships, and hundreds of videos on YouTube, including one taken with a malletcam (video camera installed in a mallet). One NYC team is appropriately named the Ratkillers. Makes me wonder where have I been and why was I the last to know?


Heidi said...

Your posts continue to amaze me... oh the things I learn!!!

Nicely done with the action photo, too!

oldmanlincoln said...

that is so neat. reminds me that we used to make up games to play during world war 2. Nice to see some still do that.

I hope you get to see what we did in Japan in 1953. Sendai-shi


Thank for these explanations. Otherwise I would have thought that it was a brand new sport as well!

• Eliane • said...

This is a fantastic post for us uncool NYers who have no idea this even existed. Definitely messenger style - you need the rught tattoo to excell at it. And I love that the bike has his own bandana. You run into great finds!

Neva said...

I had no idea this game existed...what a hoot.....not sure I want to have a go at it, though.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, Bike Polo, at least the urban hard-court version, has sprung up and blossomed all over North America and Europe in just the past couple years. Here in Vancouver we have forty people playing three times a week, it's suddenly become the most widely attended bicycle event in the city, second only to critical mass which draws thousands. Seattle introduced the game to Portland and the rest of the continent seven years ago at the North American Cycle Courier Championships, and it's popularity has slowly spread from the messenger set into the mainstream cycling community.

There are now groups playing weekly games Victoria BC, Seattle, Portland, Corvallis WA, San Francisco, LA, Oakland, Dallas, Dayton OH, Chicago, Milwaukee, Tallahasee, Madison WI, Tuscon, Lafayette LA, Columbus NY, Philly, New York of course, DC, Boston, New Haven CT, Toronto, Ottawa, Hannover and Berlin in Germany, Oxford, Manchester, and London in the UK. Search for bike polo on the web and see if there's a game going in your town. You can check out for some of the rules and etiquette, myspace and Facebook also host pages for groups.

There's a tournament being held this coming weekend in NYC, with teams coming from all over the U.S. and Canada. It's being held Saturday the 20th and Sunday the 21st at Sara D. Roosevelt Park on the Lower East Side, East Houston at Forsyth.

Anonymous said...

Hey I dont know if you are aware but some CB3 dog owners are making an effort to change our bike polo court into a dog park. I for one think this is a bad idea because the space is unique and truly a multi-use space. a number of diffrent groups use this space. also there is a sign on the fence that says NO DOGS ALLOWED. would you mind signing our petiton to save the SDR.
thank you so much. and if you could tell some friends too, we need all the help we can get.