A Year In New York

A Daily Bite of the Big Apple

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Day 43: The Shocking, Cycling Truth

August 8th · 1 Comment

Before arriving here, I discovered a reliable way to flabbergast my fellow Californians. All I had to do was announce my plans to commute by bike around Manhattan.

“What?” that Californian would sputter, nearly spilling his Chardonnay into the koi pond. “Are you crazy?”

I might as well have said I would bike through the streets of Baghdad in a George Bush mask. Pedaling through New York would certainly kill me. If taxi didn’t do it then something else would, maybe a Jersey mobster who would drop me off the end of a pier in a concrete helmet, to go cycle with the fishes.

Secretly, I thought my plan might be foolhardy too. Then I got here and learned that biking is all the rage.

For reasons of fitness or fresh air or fuel prices, any kind of person can be spotted dodging among the taxis: girls in summer skirts and beer-gut dads in jeans, the lycra people, and of course the pizza delivery guys. I would estimate that, per-capita, Manhattan cyclists are on pace to outnumber even Yorkshire terriers.

In every block there’s at least one, sometimes three or four, padlocked to a parking meter (not terriers, I mean. Bicycles.)

I haven’t actually bought a bike yet, or even taken a test ride. But I’m thinking about it. I’d better not spend too much time thinking or I’ll miss the best biking weather of the year, and instead will have to learn my pedal strokes in the soot-blackened slush of February. That would really impress my West Coast mountain-biking friends.

“What?” they would say, spurting Gatorade all over their ginger-cashew trail mix. “Are you crazy?”

Crazy, yeh. Crazy like a New Yorker crazy.

Tags: East Coast v. West Coast · Urban Survival · Why I Love This Town

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 anne // Aug 15, 2008 at 12:30 am

    Maybe you can hook your new bike up to one
    of David Byrne’s new cool racks. You have a new green bike lane from Times Square to Herald Square and Bloomberg has started implementing car free zones on Saturdays (8/16 & 8/23) from the Brooklyn bridge to E. 72nd.
    Perhaps it a good time to try your luck.

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