Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Commuting by Bicycle: Day 1

I rode my bicycle from Crown Heights to midtown today (and back)! I decided that the weather is too perfect and the subway depresses me too much. I swallowed my NYC public transportation pride (gross) and bought a strong lock to use outside of work.

Riding from Crown Heights to Rockefeller Center is slightly awkward, mostly because many of the amazing protected bike lanes don't go up as far as they should. If the 1st Avenue bike lane went as high as 50th Street (and the 2nd Avenue Bike Lane), I would be set - then I could get to and from work relatively easily. Instead, I like to choose the "Safe" option on RideTheCity.com and see where it takes me. The route was this: Bedford Avenue to the Williamsburg Bridge to 1st Avenue to East 9th to Greenwich to 8th Avenue and then all the way up 8th Avenue to West 48th Street. Woohoo.

My first reaction to commuting: Wow, my bike seat really isn't that comfortable. I made a slight adjustment on Bedford Avenue beside the gas station - still uncomfortable but not as horrible as before. Ouch. My second reaction to commuting: Wow, the Williamsburg Bridge is a very long, slow incline. It's time like these I wish I had gears. I reminded myself that skinny hipsters from Williamsburg do it all the time, so I could do it too. Plus a guy whistled at me as I past him so I figured I wasn't the slowest one.

The bike path on First Avenue introduced me to the first of many darting lizards - also known as "people on their way to work." They have glazed-over eyes and are usually carrying a large coffee with a sleeve. I calmed myself down by slowing down and avoiding the lizards. At one point I was behind a girl who was riding slowly on a big mountain bike. As I got next to her I realized she was actually smoking a cigarette and riding her bike at the same time. At first, I thought "Well, at least she's riding her bike" but then, she was probably undoing all that good.

As I got on East 9th Street, around the NYU area, I slowed down to pass an ambulance. I was horrified to see that an older woman had bad cuts all over her arm. She didn't seem homeless and she seemed pretty calm about her bleeding arm but I shuddered with thoughts of domestic violence (and before 9 AM?).

The ride up 8th Avenue was fine until about 34th Street, when it gets really crowded. The clock read 8:24am and people started streaming out of the train stations under Madison Square Garden. It got worse when I neared Port Authority because I was stopped at a light and what seems like hundreds of Jerseyites (?) walking every which way across the street. For lack of anything better to do about the bike lane that suddenly disappears, I stayed as far to the left as possible and continued on.

I turned East on W. 48th Street. I locked my bike up a hundred times to make sure the lock actually went through the frame and then I ran into NYSC to, literally, change my clothes. Had I been more ambitious, I could have showered too, but time was running out before work, so I rocked the half sweaty/half envigorated style.

At work, I was elated. Commuting makes me feel much more like a cyclist - even if I still worry about my rickety bike or what components everyone else is flashing around.

Time it took: 1 hour
What I drank because I was so thirsty: coffee (I do that a lot)


Unsure of which route was the best to take home, I convinced myself that taking 2nd Avenue all the way down would be worthwhile - since parts of that route have bike lanes. I also didn't want to take Broadway, and I'm reluctant to ride all the way to the West Side Highway, although I may do that in the coming days.

If I thought the lizards were out BEFORE work, being in midtown at 5:00 PM is much, much worse. Near Rockefeller Center, people dart around cars and behind parked trucks to cross the street - it's not really J-walking so much as playing DDR in the middle of the street.

Second Avenue was a poor choice. Although the street is really wide, it's undergoing a lot of construction and there are crazy old people that don't know what exactly what bike lanes are. By the time I got down to St. Marks Place I was happy to beeline home over the bridge.

Taking Wythe Avenue from Williamsburg to Crown Heights was not as easy as I had hoped. I was sure the Hassid bus drivers were gunning me down and at one point a large bus sped up, cut me off, and then put out it's little STOP sign. (Is it illegal to pass those?).

I took Franklin all the way to Shorty's Deli and purchased many beverages (not beer, they don't sell it). I am using commuting as an excuse to eat everything and probably go to bed as early as possible. So far, so good.

Time it took: 1 hour 12 minutes
What I drank because I was so thirsty: Nantucket Nectars Orange Mango, ice water

1 comment:

  1. You are a brave soul. I envision you biking around traffic in your svelte professional slacks. I hope you lead all of midtown to embrace the bicycle. Make a little hand basket especially designed for briefcases.

    Miss you Q! Love that you quench your thirst with Orange Mango! muah.