I’ve been seeing these new installations all over queens: CityRacks! When I first arrived in New York, I lamented the lack of bike racks. Why are there no bike racks? I asked myself when I dropped my daughter via bike-plus-trail-a-bike at the Queens Museum of Art camp in the middle of Flushing Meadow Park. (You would think they would install bike racks at destinations within a park!) Well, now there are places to lock my bike throughout my ’hood!
And the best part? They’re usually empty. Few individuals bike in Queens. I’m guessing that’s because it’s fucking dangerous. It is a serious risk to life and limb to ride a bike in this particular borough of NYC. Remember when I got hit by a car while walking across the street? Imagine trying to weave in an out of traffic on a two-wheeled vehicle amid insane drivers gesticulating, texting and honking all at the same time. Scary shit, people.
Another recent NYC development is the Citi Bike program. I don’t know any Citi Bike users, but I have heard complaints ranging from the bike racks being eyesore (from residents of neighborhoods like Soho—seriously?) to criticism from folks in rougher neighborhoods in Brooklyn that the program isn’t in their area when they could really use it. I saw several Citi Bikers in Manhattan this past weekend, none of whom were wearing helmets. Turns out NYC cyclists are required by law to have a bell on their bikes but only riders under 13 are required to wear a helmet.
I lived in San Francisco during the rise of the Bike Coalition (I never participated a traffic-halting Friday mob ride, promise). Fed up with SF public transit, I bought a bike and quickly took to riding my bike as a primary means of transport, commuting to SF State for a few years and later riding down Market Street every day with a throng of other cyclists, arriving at our downtown destinations faster than any motorized vehicle. During that time a bus killed a cyclist, sparking outrage by two-wheeled commuters. An official “bike map” was established, with bike lanes painted on main avenues throughout the city. San Francisco is a very bike-friendly town.
Since moving to New York I’ve been a pretty casual biker. I ride to pilates or the gym and occasionally to a Mets game. We have a tandem bike and the aforementioned trail-a-bike attachment, so we can even bike to Citi Field with the kids.
Recently, this happened:
My car is now on its way to becoming a cube, totaled in the wreck (thankfully, my little red Subaru was innocently parked in front of the house when this car hit it and flipped over, and nobody was hurt).
In the continued effort to simplify, we are going to live without another car, sharing one family car instead. So I’m going to bike more now. In the winter and everything. There is freedom in limitations. Knowing that sometimes I have no choice but to walk or ride my bike when the car is unavailable makes decisions easy. And now, when I do ride my bike, there are bike racks available to lock it up.
I’m not the only one talking bikes. Check out Bike Pretty’s post on the SF Bike Share.