Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Indignity of Commuting By Bicycle: Looming Vehicular Obstructions

Of the many things at which I fail to excel, I'm especially bad at three: bike racing; social interaction; and photography. However, I'm a firm believer in persistence in the face of failure. I continue to race and get dropped and I continue to leave people with vile tastes in their mouths, so I might as well continue taking pictures as well. Of course, one of the most difficult things about taking photos is choosing your subject. I figure it's always best to start with things you know, and if there's one thing I do know it's what annoys me. Since my commute is a nourishing pasture of annoyance, I figured I'd bring a camera along and graze. I invite you to come along for the ride:

You're joining me well into my commute at this point. If you live in New York this is old news, but for the rest of you Brooklyn is the land of double parking. During alternate-side parking it is perfectly acceptable to leave your car double parked for hours at a time. When coupled with a dumpster this can make for some serious traffic back-ups. (And there's always a dumpster--if every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings, then every time a Subaru beeps a Park Sloper renovates his brownstone.) When the patented rush-hour trash pickup takes place, nobody's going anywhere.

But if there's one thing we New Yorkers pride ourselves on, it's never being outdone. That's why we've recently introduced triple parking. It's the Enormous Omelet Sandwich of parking.

Pardon the pun, but there's a delicious irony in the fact that many of the trucks that try to kill you in New York are delivering organic food. Here outside the Park Slope Food Co-Op, giant idling rigs are the norm--especially during rush hour. Coupled with the fire house right next-door and the impatient traffic trying to get around the trucks, this usually makes for some interesting shenanigans. (I'm cowering in a tree with the rest of the squirrels.) Why don't I choose a street with a bike lane instead? Because the bike lanes are full of double parkers.

And when the undernourished co-op volunteers finish slowly unloading that first truck with their weak and spindly arms, the fun continues. There's a hummus truck waiting in the wings.
As I've mentioned before, lately the city is covered in skid marks. Why? Because brakes are for losers. One popular spot to lay down a skid is the entrance/exit to the Brooklyn Bridge on the Brooklyn side. Note how the skidders practice their art along the white line. Mad skilz are in evidence.
A little further along the Brooklyn Bridge bike path. Always comforting to see skid marks at a pedestrian crossing. I guess the blood cleans up better than the rubber.
The run-in to that pedestrian crossing. If you're on foot take comfort in the fact that many of the cyclists approaching you do not have any brakes. (By the way, Fat Cyclist, if you're reading I passed a woman running in one of your jerseys shortly after this. Sorry I didn't get a photo.)
But the real fun begins in Manhattan. Here, Floyd Landis has a better chance of being cleared than a bike lane does. Here's an unmanned FedEx truck parked square in the middle of the bike lane just over the Brooklyn Bridge. Note the ample curbside parking of which the driver chose not to avail himself. He was probably afraid of getting blocked in by a UPS truck.
Here's two more bike lane subletters a little further along. Note the official plate. Yes, it's official--you're an idiot.

I asked him to smile but he didn't. The shot didn't come out anyway.

The guy in front of him just hid begind his B-pillar when I asked him to smile. (Wait--is that a bicycle I see reflected in the forest green paint?)

These moronic cubicle monkeys spent what seemed like an eternity getting into and out of this cab. "Hey, why wait until we get to the office? Let's have ourselves a conference right here in the bike lane."
I took this shot moments before as I passed, the doors flapping in traffic frantically like the fins of a tropical fish out of water.

Buzzbomb, comin' at'cha! (A better photographer would have also gotten the rider sipping a Starbucks who preceeded him, but I was too busy trying not to collide with him and get covered in frappucino.)

Mmm! Sweet, refreshing Snapple. Sure, I'll gladly share my bike lane with deliciousness, thanks for asking.

They really should make the little painted bicycle guy look less like a wheelchair, because apparently this mini-bus is confused.

As I made my way around it I nearly collided with this strange bicycle which was traveling prudently in the wrong direction. I'm happy I got the shot, though I didn't manage to capture her look of utter disregard for the fact that we nearly had a head-on collision.
Anyway, thanks for riding along. I'll be fine from here on my own. Can't wait to do it again tonight in the dark.

95 comments:

Dr. Logan said...

What an awesome commute. Thanks for sharing. It looks about as convenient as riding a bike down the Venice Beach bike path. If you can get around the retirees holding hands in both lanes and the homeless people sleeping, you still have to avoid the white trash couples sharing hickies, the mom's jogging with joggers and the surf sluts pausing to answer their phones because they can't be expected to walk AND talk. Then you get taken out by a kamikaze weekend warrier on a Parlee.

Philip Barrett said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Oh but honorable bike snob! You forgot the idiot i-pod oblivious pedestrians who step out into traffic in the middle of the block and don't bother to look the direction that traffic is coming. In the slope, probably pushing a stroller. No bklyn-manhattan commute would be complete without them.

Nesuto Neko said...

retards doing skids on xl freestyle bikes aside (and that's basically an aesthetic issue), this is what makes nyc my favorite place to go for a bike ride. it's like entering a live-action video game.

Anonymous said...

I think that strange bike has been especially designed for riding against traffic. The only thing missing is a red blinkie on the front.

Russ said...

Had you actually hit that plastic folding "bike" (I believe they're available in finer vending machines throughout the city), it would have simply disintegrated. (Actually, given that those bikes are flimsy and intended for self-assembly, they should probably be sold at Ikea. bIkea?)

R. Zach Thomas said...

@ Nesuto – Yeah, riding in the big city might be like playing a video game, but unlike "Frogger" where you can always pop in another quarter once you've gotten smacked for the last time by a truck, here in real life, there isn't some kid in an arcade to bail you out once you've been run over by an 18-wheeler.

evano said...

This really makes me appreciate my two mile commute in Laramie. Thanks for brightening up my day!

BotchedExperiment said...

I'll bet you a top-tube pad that the woman you saw was FC's sister.

Sean Lynch said...

Russ,

The idea of self assembling bikes put a chill down my spine. If they can reproduce and self-assemble, whats to stop them from taking over the world? Other than their flimsy construction that is.

Besides, if its a bike from Ikea it would naturally have a name like "Fl├╝rjm",

Russ said...

Hm. Unintended meaning. Now I'm envisioning the broom scene from "Fantasia", only with Dahons.

Terrific.

Jim said...

Wow. The commuting traffic dynamic in D.C. is totally different. Our traffic actually moves, albeit intermittently, and we don't have too many dedicated bike lanes. Everybody in the greater D.C. Metro area, all 4.5 million, are *VERY IMPORTANT* and they drive like the *VERY IMPORTANT*, or at least like they're trying to give that impression to visiting New Yorkers and Iowans and Japanese tourists. So it's a race from stoplight to stoplight, or more precisely, from stoplight to the next car 40 feet up the road, which has been stopped for 4 minutes waiting on a light. When the lights up and down one of the 'letter' streets (H, Eye, K) suddenly sync up - an event that only happens by accident - gridlock traffic all of a sudden starts moving and can hit 40 MPH in no time flat. You can be stopped, then suddenly motorpacing like Jan Ulrich, then suddenly splattered into the back of a car that stopped on a dime because it hit a new patch of congestion 3 blocks down. Local motor vehicle art forms include gassing it past a bicycle, cutting the bike off then skidding to a stop right in front of it; buses using the space occupied in traffic by bikes as a merge lane; and ignoring cyclists moving through traffic circles, even if they are 250 pounds, six feet tall dressed in bright blue, going 30, waving their arms and screaming profanities at the top of their lungs.

I really kind of like it but think I should get some sort of hazard pay.

Jared said...

The bike lane shots in those photos established another Brooklyn, Brookline connection for us bike snobs in Boston. Fortunately, The city itself doesn't stoop to the pretense of drawing bike lanes.
On another note, it's a wonder that you didn't have more photos of people crossing the street looking in the opposite direction of traffic, or is that just a Boston thing. I've got a week on the disabled list as a courier because one of those absent minded bean eaters walked in front of my bike.

40x14 said...

Most drivers in NYC and the boros don't even know that the bike lane is meant only for bikes.

Since it is poorly marked they'll presume it is designed specifically for double parking, or other "necessary" infractions.

The city needs to step up it's enforcement and collect what's due from these scofflaws.

Anonymous said...

I just don't understand why any bicycle enthusiast would choose to live in an environment such as that. I know that NYC is the big apple and all, but let's face it. It ain't exactly bike friendly and while I find the post extremely amusing, it's also a sad commentary on how much disrespect bicyclists get in major urban centers. And to compound that disrespect are the idiots out there that shouldn't be riding bikes in urban centers in the first place.

Prolly said...

Bike snob,

Check out the little red stickers made by my friend... iparkedinabikelane.org

You can get them all over the NYC.

We rode around one Sunday nailing cars....

Good post.

Anonymous said...

Jim -

I myself used to live in DC, and found biking there to be anything but pleasant. If I chose to ride on the road to stay away from the overcrowded bike baths, cars would scearm at me to get the hell of their precious road (as if DC forbid my being on them in the first place). Second, the bike paths are simply not a viable alternative for people wanting to ride fast. There are too many idiots out there rollerblading or jogging that are oblivious to the words "on your left". Also, there are too many children out there, who have every right to be out there, that biking at high speed is simply inappropriate.

I moved 90 miles south, and while Richmond, VA certainly isn't as culturally advanced as either DC or NYC, the biking scene here is much much better. Better roads, less traffic, quicker times to get to country roads, and some of the best urban mtb anywhere in the country.

bikesgonewild said...

...hell, i see a bsnyc bicycle video game in the near future...
..."great fun for the whole family...help the bikesnob make it from home in brooklyn to work in manhattan...avoid the pitfalls, pot holes, fix gear potheads, the cars, trucks, cabs n' vans, the dumpsters, double parkers & the homeless pushing shopping carts...if you safely advance to the next level, ride the bikesnob home at night...game includes frame, color scheme & equipment options...make the snob ride YOUR idea of the perfect bike...
...do a pro level commute w/ bikesnob on a brakeless fix gear"...
..."remember, kids, hours of endless fun"...

Anonymous said...

what if the bike cops in nyc actually did something useful like patrol the bike lanes?

Sean Lynch said...

Rated "Eeeeeeeee"!
For everyone!

mr.complaint said...

That cute little triangle toss of a bicycle is a Strida 3. They're English, which explains her English riding style. Did you notice the belt drive? ;)

There's one locked to a signpost at W.26th St and 11th Ave. She must work for Martha. It might need a sticker.

Allen said...

bikesnob,

i am a new reader to your site as i have just moved to new york from san francisco. i always ran a front brake on my fixed gear but never wore a helmet in san francisco.

i move to greenpoint about a month ago and wear my helmet every day, along with a U-lock in my belt and a kryptonite chain slung over my shoulder (the same shoulder my bag is slung on, damn that hurts).

i have yet to ride in manhattan at all... do you wear a helmet? do you ever have a chance to go fast? is riding in manhattan really a life of dread?

i was sitting at union square the other day for about an hour and counted 12 brakeless fixed gears go through the red crossing 14th st onto broadway. it was insane. i'm freaked.

i loved cycling in san francisco but new york is sort of turning me off of it. any advice for a new-comer to the city?

Anonymous said...

What else can I say, but I can't go a day without reading BSNYC. Without it, I dont think I would smile!

Monster_mash said...

Allen,
It's not so bad if you don't run red lights at Union Square. I find, like other posters here, that the pedestrians are at least the most common danger, if not the most dangerous.
Apparently if you don't weigh two tons and aren't made out of metal, you don't have the right of way in New York.
I have a bell, but it's useless against cell phones and ipods.
I've seen high-pressure, marine air horns used, but this strikes me as a little over the top.
I yell, scream and curse those who get in my way, and that keeps the joy in cycling here in NYC for me.
I'm just waiting for the day that I curse out a co-worked or boss unwittingly.

Monster_mash said...

Allen,
I forgot to mention that I used to live and bike in SF as well. Most of my commute was on Market Street and I found it to be pretty bad, even comparable with the worst of NYC. Crazies and junkies coming at you from everywhere, awful drivers and those damn trolley tracks.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Allen,

Keep the brake on and be alert. Riding in Manhattan is mostly about learning the streets, traffic patterns, and habits of the local fauna. Route choice is important but that comes with experience. Obviously things could be a lot better in Manhattan but at the same time it has its own unique pleasures once you get in tune with it. Also, don't forget there's a huge bike culture here and there's great riding right outside of the city. Take the time to explore and learn and you'll be having fun in no time. See you out there.

--BSNYC

Anonymous said...

that chick is also smoking, and has a bigass purse hanging from the bar. hilarious. what complete luxury she lives in. im much more utility and all about safety, but she looks like she is having fun. man, id drink a beer with her!

quaffimodo said...

Jim said:

"Local motor vehicle art forms include gassing it past a bicycle, cutting the bike off then skidding to a stop right in front of it;"

Local art form-are you kidding? More like a prehistoric cave painting.

Anonymous said...

I have thought about commuting the 18 miles to work, but have always been afraid of the gravel and garbage trucks on the way out to the job site at 5:30 in the morning. However, seeing what you brave in NYC makes me feel like a wimp for not trying it yet.

Maybe I will get the huevos and try.

Chuy in Austin

Dirt Monkey said...

Dang,
Compared to yours my commute is like being transported to heaven on a fully geared steel touring bike.
I get a "bike-way" and then several miles of bike lanes. My only pitfalls are the various constuction sites and those evil Tri-met busses that get to swerve in and out of the bike lanes with little regard for my 180 lbs of flesh.
The way home is downhill past all the stuck cars. HA!

Peter said...

That official car in the bike lane has got a broken brake light - he'd get pulled by the police for that here.

Anonymous said...

My fortune is a hand with a bike specific cow catcher device. Don't worry about swerving around impolite parked vehicles. Hammer down and have the cow catcher launch them 30 feet to the right.

Anonymous said...

Bike lanes in NYC are the most dangerous place to ride. with the 6th Ave bike lane(btwn 23rd and 34th st) being the most dangerous stretch of road to ride in Manhattan.
BikeSnobNYC you should take pics of the new 9th Ave bike lane with all the cars parked in it. the other day I saw a Traffic cop parked in the lane and a USPS truck that parks there every day

bikesgonewild said...

...sean l...good addendum...

Park Slope Food Coop snob said...

The trucks at the Park Slope Food Coop are not idling. Their engines are off. The noise is from the refrigeration units, that keep the frozen and refrigerated food cold until they are taken off the trucks.

Chazu said...

There is an entire lane on 9th Street NW, in Washington DC that is clearly marked "Buses & Bikes Only." It isn't a narrow bike lane - it is a full lane on a major avenue in the center of the city. (South of New York Avenue and north of Constitution Avenue). It leaves plenty of room for buses to pull over to the curb while allowing bikes to proceed. Nice concept.

I now refuse to ride there. I once tried riding slowly in that lane and pointing to the words on the pavement in the hopes that the car tailgating me (in the "Bikes & Busses Only" Lane) would catch on to their mistake. That action only demonstrates how naive I really am.

BikeSnobNYC said...

PSFCS,

Thanks for the clarification. On or off they're still in the way.

--BSNYC

Jim said...

For the relevant riders - in the urban centers of the east coast cities, where do you feel safer riding - in traffic and flowing with it, or on the shoulder/bike lane?

Until the road goes pretty seriously uphill, I prefer to take the lane and hammer, I find it's a lot safer even though some drivers get inexplicably enraged at cyclists moving along as fast as cars in traffic...

BikeSnobNYC said...

Jim,

In traffic among the cars for me. However, sometimes I just want to ride slow and take my time. Naively, I sometimes make the mistake of thinking I can do this in the bike lane.

--BSNYC

Eric said...

Um, err, I'm a member if the Park Slope Food Co-Op (currently on a facist suspension for missing a work shift) and I don't have spindly arms.

Also, when the F*@K do you cross the Brooklyn Bridge? I had to start taking the Mahatten due to the idiots that can't figure out which side is for peds and which for bikes!?!?

Shiprek said...

Ummm...I have empathy and feel your pain of frustration for the blocked bike lanes and your fellow idiotic cyclists, but why not just accept the challenges and keep pedaling with out looking back? So what if you knocked down that 78 yr old lady that stepped off the curb in the middle of the street, or if you made that frosty bitch wipe out cause she was one handing it the wrong way with a frapacino...So long as you make it from point A to B unscathed, all is well.

Own your road! Ride real over right!

John said...

They say L.A. sucks for cycling but I have to say my commute looks way easier than yours. Sure, it's probably twice as long, but I know all the small streets that go through and the bike lanes here are generally unblocked. Most of L.A. is flat too, though my neighborhood isn't.

Oh, and sunny and dry and mild temps most of the time.

Sean Lynch said...

Jim,

In most of Chicago car traffic is either moving at 40+ mph or standing still, so taking the lane is rarely an option.

That leaves the door zone for commuting. Sometimes the door zone is a bike lane, sometimes its a "shared lane", and sometimes its just the door zone. All three are essentially indistinguishable in real life. Markings on the ground don't matter much.

For a small 3mile X 1mile stretch of downtown Chicago the density approaches the density found anywhere on Manhattan (So its really nowhere near as intense as the Snob's commute). In that part of town there is usually more weaving involved. Taking the lane there is easy because most riders are in little packs by the time we get to the loop.

I think its the ghost of Ignazz Schwinn putting the evil eye on bad drivers or something because overall Chicago is pretty bike friendly.

mr.complaint said...

Here's 6th Ave in 2005:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgx1_LV_GQI

There's a video of 9th Ave at http://www.streetfilms.org/

Allen,

I've often wondered about the psychic toll of riding in New York has taken on my brain.

But no less than a ride in the rain on Market St.

The alternatives are not an option.

bike=good said...

sounds really exciting...

my commute is 7 miles of AZ canal service road. 25' wide, maybe 2 joggers along the way, and smooth dirt. the only excitement i have is not knowing the day when i inevitably find a dead body floating by...

Anonymous said...

You forgot the endless line of Porsche Cayennes outside the co-op where the volunteers dodge their obligation for 1 hour a month, avoid having to pay some poor Latino some hourly wages and feel virtuous about it.

cycles and cynicisms said...

I have to say that I greatly appreciated the vicarious tour of your daily commute! I am a Bostonian that has been transplanted into slow-going, suburban Utah! Cherish those doble parkers and all that they represent. . . Once it's gone, you will miss it!

Also, here is a link to a good friend of mine who has figured out how to keep that annoying front break while still "keeping it real" with his latest commuter project: www.sabrosacycles.com. Maybe one day we can all aspire to be as bad ass as those that don't need brakes! Until then, I will enjoy the ability to stop on a dime and pick up the change!!

Fritz said...

BSNYC, your commute rules. And your commentary on bike lanes are truck unloading is waaay better than that provided by Streetsblog.

Fritz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BikeSnobNYC said...

C&C,

Thanks for that link. So...a bar-end shifter actuating a single-pivot brake. How well does that work exactly?

Fritz,

Thanks for the compliment and link. Looks like Streetsblog and I are intersecting. Maybe they'll do a FGG post next.

--BSNYC

Scott said...

John,

I live in L.A. and think it's great for cycling as well. People say it's awful, but I think that's mainly because very few people (relatively) cycle in L.A. so they don't know, and L.A. is really spread out so the commutes are bound to be long (I'm at over 10 miles each way, though no real climbs in it, sadly).

The best part, I think, is because there are so few cyclists (and most of then ride the wrong way down the sidewalk), cars really don't know what to do when they see a cyclists in the road, so they give me plenty of room.

Also, there are like no bike lanes down here, which is great because it just gives me an excuse to take the whole lane and do my thing.

bikesgonewild said...

...i live like a bicycle lord, in the easy (relatively) confines, north of the gg bridge, but i guarantee that market street in the wet is some serious shyte...buses, streetcars & their extremely slick tracks, passenger islands, cars, trucks, broken pave', metal grates & then throw in all the cell phone, i-pod inattentiveness & a few wandering tortured souls w/ or w/out shopping carts...sf couriers get a thumbs up in that part a' town...

Allen said...

Maybe it's the familiarity of Market St. or that there is a huge right shoulder for quite some time or that the congestion isn't terrible for most of it that cars can change lanes.

The bad stretch is clearly from The Embarcadero to just after Powell, but I never felt much "danger" on Market. The cars always were aware of you, even cabs just zoomed into the train lane to pass you and no one really honked. Other cyclists were a pain.

Mr. Complaint, that video of 6th Ave. was horrible and I never experienced that in SF, even when for a time my commute took me down Stockten from the tunnel and down market St. to Valencia. Buses and traffic and construction on Stockten was horrendous, but 6th Ave. is like a maze of knives... or bulldozers. I love my helmet...

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful city. I can sure see why so many people want to live there. Is it true I could swarmed daily by thoughtless humanity and get to spend three weeks' pay every month on a shitty apartment? Gawww-lee!

We out here in the sticks sure is jealous...

cycles and cynicisms said...

Bike Snob!
In all honesty I really don't know how that bar end shifter is going to work as a break! Maybe he will be able to stop on a quarter! I've got the question out to him: keep your eyes peeled for a response!

Anonymous said...

In re the bar end shifter into brake lever conversion: the proverbial answer to a question not asked.

Will it stop you quickly as you grapple in the drops for good leverage? Res ipsa loquitor.

It seems the perfect frosting on the cake of BSNYC's commute.

bikesgonewild said...

...allen...in the dry, ya, i've done it & it's manageable even for an old school 'out a towner' like moi, but the rain adds a whole new element as i'm sure you remember...
...while a lotta cities have gotten rid of streetcar tracks, sf's still got plenty a' those, plus the cable car tracks...lotta metal in the streets & that stuff is ultra-slick when wet n' greasy...
...don't ferget the crosstown route, the wiggle...

crjames said...

i agree that riding in NY is all about getting used to the "local fauna".
the first couple of times i rode to brooklyn college (from williamsburg) i was overwhelmed by the peculiarities of the neighborhoods. and then i kinda learned what to look for. "okay, i've passed broadway, start looking for big fur hats peeping out between parked cars and baby strollers with no drivers heading straight for traffic".
bsnyc, you're so right on about the garbage trucks at rush hour, too. it's like they're waiting until the worst time possible on purpose. "eh, George, let's pick up the Bedford trash around 9. that way we can make sure we're holding up everyone within a 6 block radius".
bsnyc, you really ARE riding the truth. (!)

one last thing, bsnyc. i see a bike in that shiny green car but i also see a face with a mask. what does that mean? i'm frightened.

mimi flynn said...

riding a bike in austin is similar. one has to be wary on those weekends where the town is inundated by lost tourists. people braking and trying to keep up with the traffic while lost make for an interesting day of dodging and yelling and scowling at the people that didn't think to look for a cyclist. these days we also have to keep an eye out for the people that yell and throw bottles at cyclists for fun. why all the hate? they could be passing the cars parked on guadalupe during rush hour if they were on a bike too...

bikesgonewild said...

...anon 5:02pm...why you cynical little so & so, chuckle, chuckle, i know 'xactly what cha talkin' about...
...but, hey, it's nice ta know them big ol', all lit up cities are there, case we need some 'cultcha', right ???...

beat said...

In ohio, there is cars, then there's the rest of us. The trails we have are just wide enough for two mildly obese middle-age suburbanites to walk together. Invariably, when I say, "on your left," they go to the left side of the path which leaves me turning sharply and them cursing me for not being more careful.

Dobo said...

The best thing about all you folks trying to ride in the vast urban jungle of NYC is that the jungle is there, and not here on my rural Ohio commute between 2 small towns.

That's not to say I don't have my own daily idiots to deal with, but if I had to deal with 'em on a
NYC scale - I'd be homicidal inside of a week.

You are nuts! Be safe(!?!)

Anonymous said...

For the latest real commuting indignity go to bikeportland.org.

Sorry to be a downer amongst all the levity.

fatcyclist said...

of COURSE i was reading your blog. and considering my brooklyn-dwelling sister posted in my comments section today that she ran wearing my jersey today, i'd say you ran into a part of the family. wild.

leroy said...

Bike Snob and I have a similar commute in to Manhattan from Brooklyn.

There are some delights that BSNYC couldn't snap on the Brooklyn Bridge because foot traffic on the bridge is lighter in the morning and the weather has deteriorated rapidly this week.

What you can't see in his Brooklyn Bridge photos are the pedestrians who step into the bike lane to take pictures or to pass fellow hoofers without a care as to who may be coasting downhill behind them.

You also can't see the folks walking or jogging on the white stripe between the bike and pedestrian lanes. That makes for some interesting riding when two bikers pass each other in opposite directions alongside the stripe hog (especially if one of the bikers is a novice climbing on a fixie and swerving all over the place).

Some days I take the Manhattan Bridge. Walkers have the south side of the bridge, bikers have the north. Someone once described it as the N.J. Turnpike of bike paths.

As for bike lane versus streets, I go with the bike lane when there is one. Yes, I'm more likely to get doored, but I get to vent my righteous indignation at the cars that cut me off.

Cabs can be dangerous, but the Access-A-Ride vans for the handicapped are worse. They're bigger than cabs and driven in a manner suggesting the drivers' livelihoods depend on insuring a steady supply of ex-bikers in need of Access-A-Ride transportation.

Actually, for me, NYC is not so bad a place to commute. The trick is trying to get as much greenway as possible into the ride. I go out of my way to get to the West Side Highway greenway.

Yes, there's a fair amount of bikers, hoofers and skaters in the good weather, but if the weather is good my commute can take me a few miles out of my way up the greenway, where traffic thins out, and then I can cut across to Central Park for the ride back to midtown.

If the weather is good (and I have a little time), I can ride the Greenway to the GWB and up River Road in NJ before heading back to mid-town.

Or if that's too long, I can ride greenway up to the North end of Manhattan and then cross town for a south bound ride on the Harlem Speedway -- a wide open greenway with only two or three access points.

It beats the subway because when I take the bike, I know I'll get a seat.

On weekends, there's Prospect Park for laps, the path under the Verrazano Bridge for riding with head winds and then tail winds, the bridges connecting the Rockaways and the Southern Shore Beltway for testing sunscreen, Cunningham Park and the converted Vanderbilt Motor Parkway for the urban woodland experience, and the Kissena Velodrome (where last weekend I slipped my 9 year old half an energy gel and turned him loose).

And I haven't even mentioned the Bronx greenways. But for those who are in the neighborhood, the Tour de Bronx is on the 21st. How could you not love a ride called the Tour de Bronx? Did I mention it's free?

dennis said...

Cool blog and pics of NYC, walked around on my vists to the city many times. One day I would love to ride my bike on an early Sunday morning of course couldn't deal with all the traffic. Anyone see this video???

http://video.aol.com/video-detail/bicycle-racing-in-nyc/917301412

ob1 said...

leroy is 100% right. what is UP with the accessaride vans? Those dudes are 10x worse than anyone else.

Anonymous said...

anon wrote:
"What a wonderful city. I can sure see why so many people want to live there. Is it true I could swarmed daily by thoughtless humanity and get to spend three weeks' pay every month on a shitty apartment? Gawww-lee!
We out here in the sticks sure is jealous..."

I'm pretty sure the folks in NYC live there to avoid folks like you.

Patrick from Astoria said...

Same general idea, slightly different perspective, as I'm coming over the Queensboro Bridge down to around the South Street Seaport. A few observations from Second and First Avenues, sans photos:

The East River bike path is wonderful if one has a fetish for riding through parking lots, on pedestrian boardwalks, past junkie hangouts, and around other such dangerous/miserable places. It's even better if you like headwinds. If you want to measure how much the city really cares about cyclists, spend an hour along here.

The bike lane on the left side of Second Avenue is great if you plan to get sucked over to Brooklyn, not so good if you're still going south. I take my chances on the right side.

My one primal survival rule is simply to go as fast as possible at all times while on the street. I fear getting whacked from behind more than anything. My commute has turned into something of a geeky amateur crit, especially on the way home, although at least my times are getting better.

Red lights I treat as if I was a pedestrian: slow down, look CAREFULLY, proceed if clear, suck it up and wait if not. Doing this solves 95% of all problems.

Helmet: Absolutely mandatory. Gloves: A good idea given the pothole shocks, but the Pearl Izumis I just got have the padding in the wrong places. Fixies sans brakes: yeah, I suppose it works okay if you go slow enough. Not my style, but neither are skinny jeans or Natty Light. Go figure.

Vehicles are ironically less of a hassle than pedestrians; they travel (usually) predictable paths and have reasonable amounts of spacing between each other. Threading through the crowds in Chinatown is sometimes the biggest challenge. Forget going down Broadway through Soho in the summer.

Small exception to the above posts: Doing this is better than any video game ever, because it's real.

KanyonKris said...

Here's a review of the Strida folding bike. The reviewer finds it quite handy. Looks like a well-made little bike.

Philip Williamson said...

Stop complaining and start handing out tickets!
http://sooper-genius.blogspot.com
(tinyurl.com/yqevy8)

I don't really miss getting off the Golden Gate Ferry at 5:30 and hammering up Market St. while cabs swerve to the curb to pick up businesspeople stepping out in front of me while raising one arm in the classic 'lazy seigheil'/'clothesline' maneuver to hail that cab while looking right through me as I avoid buses herking away from the curb, small cars inexplicably driving on the wrong side of the street and herds of peds edging into the street while four cars or five cars barrel through on the red.

BrooklynBraker said...

BSNYC, your commute doesn't take you over the scenic and infected Gowanus canal, a waterway with gonorrhea!

http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/30/40/30_40gowanorrhea.html

old timer said...

FYI: using skids to stop is total inexperienced bullshit... a true brakeless rider is intune with the flow and working several moves ahead of the traffic, a good rider never has any need to skid ( they save their rubber for wasting you ass in the skids comp at your local alley cat)

Anonymous said...

Seventy-fourth! A very erudite and enjoyable travelogue. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Other than the fact that the riders in that aol video aren't wearing helmets, are showing off in Times Square, and repeatedly ride against the traffic, I felt like I was watching my own commute. Despite the danger, I love it. It's fun, people. In fact, I think I have some errands to run on my bike, right now...

Anonymous said...

Oh you're so cool bike snob. You ride through Manhattan and Brooklyn like the Green Goblin on his trusty jet propelled flyer. Thank God I do not possess the bike skills you have riding through the obstacles presented to you every second of every minute you turn the cranks...

What a complete pussy you are!

A true New Yorker or Brooklynite knows that those bike lanes are meant to be parked on, skidded on, and ignored. You are the kid that rides the curb. The one that fully stops when there is the slightest chance your lane gets blocked. You jerk at the sound of a horn.

Please ride on the side walk then or confine yourself to a park.

I'm just wondering what kind of crap you ride. It should be easy to spot you.

Thanks for pointing out the obvious and stick to the curb pompous ass.....

Anonymous said...

HEY - it was me! I'm Fatty's sister, and I run the Brooklyn Bridge about 4 days a week - many times in the pink jersey.

Slap me five next time...there's another biker I've grown to recognize on my runs who always high-fives me - I'll likely be singing along to KISS, but nevermind that.

Jodi

KartaPurkh said...

I'd forgotten how much fun riding a bike in NYC and environs was. I moved out years ago and my most vibrant memory is of idyllic Sundays in Central Park trying to chase down bicycle mounted, Nixon masked purse snatchers until they disappeared across enemy lines into Harlem. New York, New York, it's a toddling town!

Greg said...

Lots of other pics of bike lane offenders posted over at http://nyc.mybikelane.com/

leroy said...

Dear Anon Oct. 13, 2007, 2:04 PM:

Thank you for sharing with the group.

Don't be daunted about how far you have to go in dealing with those pesky anger management issues.

Golly, look how far you've come already.

But remember, only you can make you the best "you" you can be.

So if group therapy doesn't do it for you, don't lose hope. There's boatloads of pharmeceutical options these days. Consult your health care provider.

We'll all be rooting for you buddy.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes- riding in the CBD of any large city is more cathartic than watching violent sport on TV. There you can yell to your heart's delight but you know they can't hear you. On the other hand, yelling at idiots in the traffic gives you that feeling of righteous indignation and moral superiority as well as knowing that the object of your abuse has probably raised their blood pressure to dangerous levels.
One really just has to regard the cycling commute as an exciting type of video game experience with an element of real danger. Just another of the reasons cycling is such a wonderful activity.
Cheers, Philthy

BikeSnobNYC said...

Jodi,

Wild! Thanks for confirming. I will be on the lookout.

Anonymous 10/13 2:04pm,

You've sure got my number. Yes, just look for someone on a crappy bike crying on the sidewalk. That will be me. I'll look out for you as well. I'm sure you're the guy dominating the races and night ride on your awesome bike. I wish I could have an awesome bike...

--BSNYC

patrick from astoria said...

Hey, waitaminute. Someone's not fulfilling their curmudgeonly call-out-the-newbies-and-poseurs duty. How else could anyone have given me a pass on the obvious boner in my last post?

Of course I don't run a crit (what, riding arond the same block fifteen times?) on the way home; meant to say time trial. Late late nights and Miller Lite do that sometimes, although "crit" is still a really cool word.

Oh, and it's not so much the headwinds by themselves on the East Side path, although those are annoying enough - it's the Kalahari-esque sand and grit that often gets blown up in the process.

Anyway, off on another in a continuing series of experiments in dressing appropriately. At least it's not supposed to rain.

beth h said...

Omigod.
I am never going to ride a bicycle in NYC.
Call me a Portland snob if you want, but after seeing these NYC bike lane pix, believe me I am grateful to live where I do.
You guys are nuts to put up with all that.

Anonymous said...

i'm a transportation planner and work near the reade st bike lane and i wish i biked to work more just so i could make faces at all the completely inept city employees and delivery people who park in bike lanes

jane said...

I have almost the exact same commute and don't have any complaints. Why are you riding down Union when Bergen is right there with much less traffic (plus it's one-way) and a bike lane? I barely have to brake for that part of the ride - the double parking is not nearly the problem that you make it out to be!

If you hate riding in NY during rush hour so much, why do you do it?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for reminding me why I LOVE biking in NYC.

Always thrilling, never know what's gonna happen next.

Definitely not for the faint of heart or kids from suburbia!

Anonymous said...

No doubt double parked cars in bike lanes suck. But alternate side double parkers in Park Slope actually leave the bike lanes free on 2nd and 3rd Street. So no reason to use Union Street. And the lanes on Dean and Bergen are usually wide open. Unfortunately not so for Adams Street.

Anonymous said...

I bike to campus everyday and what I hate are people that don't know how to walk. A great deal of people look down when they walk. Perhaps these people are insecure, so they don't want to look up and forward. To these people I say: ride a bike to school, it's incredibly empowering.

BevyTech Gadget Bottle said...

I bike commute and invented this water bottle. I thought you may at least like to see what it does. Please view the "Music without headphones" video on my home page.

http://www.gadgetbottle.com/

Cheers, Steve

Anonymous said...

"cubicle monkeys?" you write a blog...stop acting as if you're that far away from them. those guys probably make 10x what you do yet when they're off work they don't sit around bitching about the rest of the world on their PC. so try and get over yourself. if you were so "real" you wouldn't spend 1/2 your life in front a computer yapping about what you don't like about everyone around you (excluding your other tough guy buddies). god you're a joke. p.s can i have my 5 minutes back?

Jeb said...

I'm late in arriving, but glad to see the comment above mine. There's nothing like talking shit about someone on the internet for talking shit about people on the internet and signing it anonymously. Maybe he (and yes, I am assuming it is a "he")will go back and take credit for all those poems and famous quotations attributed to him throughout history.

When people start to criticize you, you know you're doing a good job. Thanks for the entertaining read Bike Snob; makes me appreciate my cramped NJtransit commute and pedestrian rage-filled walk all the more.

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