Last Sunday I bought a used bicycle off of Craigslist. It’s a 1960-ish women’s Raleigh “cruiser,” as bicycles with upright seating and handlebars are now called, and I paid $100 for it. For another $70 I added a basket, a bell, a lock, and new brake pads. I hadn’t been on a bicycle in many years. When I moved to New York City in 1998, I brought my touring Cannondale with me – the bike that had taken me throughout France; up and down the Maine coast; from Seattle to Vancouver and back to Portland, Oregon; and on countless trips from Albany, New York, to Saratoga Springs and beyond – but I found NYC cycling unnerving so I gave it up
But a few months ago the idea of bicycling around town became appealing. How easy it would be to make my rounds. I’m not interested in a bicycle for serious exercise or pleasure trips. I want transportation. Hop on, zig-zag across town from the farmers market to Chelsea Market to Kalustyans to the Strand. Making such a trip on foot or by public transportation would take an entire morning or longer. With a bike, I could finish my errands in a couple of hours. My daily commute to work is already brief – three subway stops – but it would be even briefer on a bike. So,a bike.
I took my inaugural trip to work this morning. I headed down Fifth Avenue through Washington Square Park, south on Thompson Street, which hits a cul-de-sac at Canal. I walked across Canal (otherwise, carnage), and continued down West Broadway to my destination at Church and Warren. Here’s what I learned:
1.It’s important to stay with one-way streets though finding them may take you out of your way.
2. So that’s why they’re called Pedal-pushers!
3. Potholes, grates, bumps – the streets are a deadly obstacle course.
4. The bike lanes are on the left. I’m not yet sure if this makes sense.
5. Beware of cars making turns: They don’t use their directional signals and they either don’t see you or pretend they don’t see you. Taxis are especially dangerous. I punched the trunk and hurled epithets at the taxi that cut me off. That felt really good. Maybe I’ll carry a bat.
6. The city needs more bike racks.
Savings: $2.25 subway fare. Expenses: $2.25 brioche at Grandaisy Bakery on Beach and W. Broadway.
To be continued. . .