About a year ago, I worked on project very near and dear to my heart, our New York City Survival Guide. As lifetime New Yorker (except college…but who remembers college anyway?) I felt quite up to the task of telling everyone in the world about everything in New York.
But, time and sanity limits deemed it necessary for me to farm out some sections to my co-workers. When it came time to write the Biking in New York section, I knew that I wasn’t the person to do the job. I had biked about 3 times since the age of 9 and certainly would never be stupid enough to try biking in New York. Biking was something that delivery guys and hipsters with death wishes could do. Jaywalking was about the all the risk-taking I was ready to engage in.
However, my Good Friend did a very nice job on the biking section, and you’ll notice that the first insight includes a link to the organization Transportation Alternatives, the organization that sponsored this weekend’s Tour de Bronx. Now, despite the whole “I value my life and thus will NEVER board a bike in New York City” attitude, I ended up, thanks to a variety of encouraging/overly encouraging people, on the Tour de Bronx. However, I can proudly say that it was due mostly to me that I emerged from the ride intact. (I say “mostly” because once someone I didn’t know yelled at me to get out of the oncoming traffic lane. Oops)
As a biker, I have some huge problems with what we like to call “take off” and “landing.” (For the metaphorically uninclined, that would be “starting” and “stopping.”) I also have some trouble with steering which resulted in me being too afraid to pass anyone, and occasionally riding precariously close to cars. (hence aforementioned Samaritan trying to save me from messy death.) But, ultimately, I made it through 25 miles. I didn’t get road rage during any of the numerous bottlenecks of bikers that occurred and I got the unique thrill of riding through beautiful parks, lakes, beaches and on roads that we used to take to get to my family’s house in Westchester . (Shrieks out loud: Oh my god! I’m on a bike! On a road that I’ve driven on in car!!!)
But, in terms of transportation alternatives, I am finally ready to see my bike as way to get places, and also ready to think of myself as someone who explores alternatives.