I just got back from five days in NYC! Unfortunately, there was no biking involved. The Big Apple’s bike share program has been delayed again, with a tentative launch date of March 2013, and my schedule of museum and gallery visits was packed (I know, lame excuses).
So while I’m saving my inaugural biking in New York experience for my next trip east, I wanted to share a few quick observations about NYC bike culture.
Hearing how some in the media describe biking in New York, I expected it to be a universally scary realm reserved for adrenaline junkies. With the exception of Manhattan during rush hour, what I witnessed wasn’t outside my comfort zone.
It’s hard to beat Minneapolis for bike-friendliness, but Brooklyn and Queen’s one-way side streets and bike-laned thoroughfares didn’t look any worse than some of the routes I routinely ride in the MiniApple. Like all cities, however, there are high and low traffic areas, times, and streets, and part of biking in any metropolitan area is finding the pulse of your environment and routes that suit your comfort level.
I was struck by the look of the NYC bike racks, which were chosen from an international design competition in 2008. The large circle seems like it would help keep the bike upright, an important quality in a city where bikes that get knocked over tend to get run over (even when the front wheel and frame are still locked up). These racks have the potential to become as characteristically New York as Greek-style disposable coffee cups and MetroCards.
I checked out some of the more hipster areas, including independent artisan shops in Williamsburg. Of all the bike-themed T-shirts I saw, the only one I bought was from Oqer. The designer was selling his shirts in a sidewalk art/craft market in Soho, and I love that the wheel and handlebar designs subtly celebrate bikes of all makes and models. Especially the handlebar shirt, which would look abstract to anyone who’s not bike crazy. Unfortunately, tan doesn’t look great on me, so I went for the wheels. Now if only it was sweat-wicking…
I love visiting NYC, but I’m always happy to come home. My bike and I had a happy reunion ride on Monday after I trued the back wheel. Hope your Labor Day weekend was just as good as mine!