Manhattan —

“The trickster, the jester, there’s a long history of getting the attention of the king with the wise fool,” 38-year-old Ben Sheppard said.

He was leading the group just south of Houston Street through mid-morning traffic on Feb. 15: about half a dozen red-nosed fellow cycling enthusiasts dressed in colorful costumes, complete with curly wigs and tiny traffic cones atop their heads.

“Clowns instead of earnest politicians,” Sheppard declared enthusiastically while he waited for the light to go green again.

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