Tuesday, May 19, 2009

i don't love NY


I wouldn't say I HATE it or anything either, but when it comes to being a reasonable place to ride a bike, you've still got a LONG way to go New York City!

After a brief one mile ride yesterday from the bus to the hotel. I went with the missus to rent her a bike today and go for a ride together. We went to a little joint on 9th Ave in midtown (where we are staying) called Liberty Cycles. It was (like so many NY businesses) stocked with the same sort of generic surly New Yorkers that you might think you'd find in an auto body shop or something, but they had reasonable rentals of okay bikes, so we rented a Schwinn road bike and went on our merry way!

We followed the Broadway bike lane down to Union Square, where it seemed to just finally end. Picked up a few more lanes here and there whilst heading over to Little Italy/East Village area, but it was not a great experience. Lots of cars parked in the bike lanes where they are just painted on the side of the road including all manner of delivery truck, private cars, numerous police cars (!?) and so on. On some of the parts of Broadway where there is a large median in some cases with planters and benches between the street and the bike lanes, it's pedestrians who've claimed all this new real estate, just walking willy nilly across and backwards down and to and fro all over what should have been some pretty primo safe and comfortable bicycle right of way. I would say bikes get significantly less respect here than in Chicago, and I almost didn't think that was possible. None of the other 10 cities I have biked in can claim the same thing! DC and Philly were perhaps similar, perhaps, but you really need to be on your toes here.

Here is a recent NYT article on cars in bike lanes.

There were intrepid bikers everywhere, but you really have to recalibrate what is comfortable conditions to ride in here. We later headed over to Central Park for a couple more miles of riding. But, even in Central Park on the nice road loop around the lower part of the park, joggers (for some weird reason as the park is full of nice sidewalks and smooth gravel paths for pedestrians only) seem to just LOVE jogging all over the area specifically marked as a bike lane. I mean thousands of them. It's kind of insane, there is far more chaos all over the place than you usually notice once you have the vantage point of a bike. Weird town.

The bright spot of the day was heading over to the bike path that follows the route of the West Side Highway. We took this terrific, two-way, unbroken, divided bike roadway for a good 4 or 5 miles. It was hard to leave, just an oasis where you can really look around and enjoy where you are. More like this one please!!

Going to Boston tomorrow (actually "tonight" at 3am).

Some pics:

On Broadway (to the tune of "On Broadway")

Our steeds at rest in Central Park

And this amusing proto-comfort bike we passed just warranted a shout out. Keepin' it real!!!

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