From the reasoning of the Dawg name to the best comic book authors, from the history of the Hot to a timeline of industrial music, Cory has the trivia, and the opinions to mouth off about it.
It’s pretty well established that we think riding a bike is fun, though I have noticed that many feel riding across town is more a chore than something fun to do.
First off, these people are mistaken. Riding in a city environment is a blast. “Playing in traffic” is a new way to approach cycling. Secondly, these people have never ridden in New York city. Riding in NYC is not like riding wherever you live… unless you live in NYC.
More cars. More people. More buildings. More, more, more. More is what makes NYC one of the coolest cities in the world, and ironically enough, it’s what makes cycling safer than other places. There’s not only more cars, there are more bikes. Car drivers are used to seeing bikes, and that makes all the difference. They may not give you a wide berth, but they’re not surprised by bikes in the street.
My first foray into NYC cycling was with the guys from NYC Velo, our shop in the East Village. My bike hadn’t arrived yet, but they lent me one of their rental Humuhumu-nukunuku-apua’a, and we rode 2- some odd blocks into the shadow of the Empire State Building for coffee. Pedaling in traffic up 1st Ave with three other cyclists at a fairly leisurely pace was a total culture shock to me as a cyclist. We weaved through four and five lanes of traffic casually, and not once were we honked at. This was my first lesson. You can change lanes, take a lane, ride alongside a car as much as you want, and as long as you don’t impede a car’s travel, they won’t mind. Riding back down to the East Village involved some of the Broadway bike path, which was awesome when it wasn’t overrun with pedestrians.
After that my own bike arrived, and while I’d miss the big cushy tires and BMX feel of the Humu, my neon pink Major Jake was ready for action. Mustache bars, a 42×17 gear, and some flat-protected 32s that just wanted to go fast were great for the grand island of Manhattan.
I first took it from Harlem to Inwood, which is a much hillier ride than lower Manhattan, and with narrower streets. Nothing too bad except for the 10 lb lock in my messenger bag. From there I headed the length of the island along the Westside Greenway, a protected bike/pedestrian path that runs the Western edge of Manhattan. It was… boring. It was safe, there were no cars, but there wasn’t that frenetic energy that NYC is all about to me. Coming back up to Harlem from the East Village on 3rd Ave was a blast, and I couldn’t help compare it to mountain biking, except with cars that move instead of stationary trees.
New York is a City everyone should visit, and there’s a million things to do. But if you go and don’t ride a bike, you’re doing yourself a great disservice. Just bring a big lock.