I'll be the one coming up behind you screaming, "ON YOUR LEFT!!!"Cuomo announces 750-mile Empire State Trail, a continuous trail connecting NYC to Canada https://t.co/PUPPcX8wRw pic.twitter.com/qezN7AbBoo— 6sqft (@6sqft) January 10, 2017
Sadly though there's no way it's going to be finished by Inauguration Day, and presumably Cuomo is shooting for a ribbon-cutting that will coincide with the announcement of his 2020 election bid. This is a highly attainable goal, since by then New York State (and the rest of the United States) will be a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and NIMBY opposition to projects like this will be at an all-time low.
In the meantime, as cycling's foremost chronicler and a world-renowned author of French-language toilet books, I live at a far remove from the common cyclist. My home is an ivory tower in the far northern reaches of the city, and it houses a vast stable of exotic bicycles. Given this, it's easy to understand why my grasp on the "common touch" is tenuous, and therefore it's vital that I occasionally lower myself into the trenches and see how the plebes live.
To that end, yesterday I headed downtown with Brompton in tow. Then, in a show of solidarity with the rest of you commuting schmucks, I performed an epic crossing of the three East River bridges connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn, thereby suturing the two boroughs together with surgical precision:
My first stitch began at the Brooklyn Bridge:
Were I was horrified to see that the city has stolen my pun with this ostensibly clever sign:
It's only fair that I should receive 10% of any lock-related fines as a royalty.
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most recognized landmarks in the world. Built in 1776 by Walt Whitman or something, it has carried traffic over the East River since long before the advent of the motor vehicle. As such, it is crawling with tourists, many of whom gaze upon its stone towers in wonder while standing right in the middle of the bike lane:
I've made my peace with this and have for awhile now been of the opinion that the wooden pathway should be fully ceded to pedestrians and that a lane of automobile traffic should be removed from the roadway and replaced with a bike lane. Sadly the chances of that ever happening are virtually nil, since New York City drivers cling to their free bridge crossings like the rest of America clings to their assault rifles. Nevertheless, instead of yelling at the tourists to get outta the way like a doofus, I merely flash a tight-lipped smile, maybe flick the bell gently if necessary, and generally try to delude them into believing that New York City cyclists are possessed of both dignity and composure.
Here is the view of the harbor:
Here is the view of the other bridges I will soon be crossing:
And ahead of me lies Brooklyn:
Upon making landfall I dutifully followed the arrows:
And then locked up my bike, even though it folds into a compact and easily-carried package:
Note how I've even employed a second lock to secure my saddle to the bike rack.
Before taking possession of a folding bike I always used to wonder why people locked them up instead of simply folding them and taking them inside. Now that I have one, I realize there are generally three reasons for doing so:
In this particular case my decision was informed by all three.
Anyway, once I'd seen to my business (I can't say what it is but rest assured they've got some juicy kompromat on me now), I headed onto the Manhattan Bridge and back towards Manhattan:
During rush hour the Manhattan Bridge is one of the premiere Cat 6 racing venues in New York City. However, there's virtually no action to be had in the middle of a weekday when it's like 30 American degrees out, so instead I occupied myself with the view:
Unlike the comparatively quaint Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge is a forbidding structure of beams and girders that rumbles ominously with subway and truck traffic:
As for bike traffic, it was pretty much limited to this guy:
And this guy:
And of course me--though I have no doubt that there was still plenty of off-season Cat 6-ing during the evening rush.
The Manhattan skyline is constantly evolving, and as I alighted in Manhattan I passed yet another shiny glass sprout:
I then made my way onto the Allen Street/1st Avenue bike lane, which was impressively clear of snow:
But not of package delivery:
Though I suppose I'd rather share a bike lane with a hand truck than with an actual truck.
The bike approach to the Williamsburg Bridge however was not so clear:
Though the span itself was pristine, and upon attaining it I slotted in behind some bike messenger types:
The Williamsburg Bridge was a bit more lively than its neighbor downriver:
And of course Williamsburg itself is a sandbox of real estate development:
Which you can view through what I assume is some kind of DIY art installation:
Yes, the days when Williamsburg was derided as some kind of hipster playground now seem positively quaint, and now it's become a neighborhood of luxury retail and expensive residential boxes:
Where vintage luxury cars are the new fixie:
Upon my arrival I stopped for a coffee break:
And enjoyed the sound of idle bike-related chatter while watching the world go by:
Once I finished my coffee I hopped back on the clown bike and back into Manhattan. While much of the city has been buffed to a high sheen, some things about the New York City streets never change. For one thing, you can't go too far without spotting a rat pancake:
For another, you can't go too far in a bike lane without encountering an NYPD vehicle:
And this one was working in tandem with a privately-owned van:
I can only assume the NYPD were ticketing it for excessive pop culture references, since I'm sure they couldn't care less it was in the bike lane:
But a changed city also means new hazards. For example, the increasing ubiquity of Uber means more and more people standing in the middle of the street trying to figure out if that black car is actually for them. For example, as I was rounding one corner, I had to pick my way through a pair of bro-bags attempting to suss out a driver while looking up and down from their phones:
"Zamir? Zamir? Are you Zamir? Zamir?," they said over and over, like Zamir had just regained consciousness and they were trying to figure out if he remembered who he was.
It was annoying for me, but I mostly just felt bad for Zamir and the bro-tastic conversation he'd no doubt be enduring for the next 20 minues, assuming he did in fact turn out to be their driver.
Of course, other car service-related issues long predate Uber, such as the passenger disembarking in the middle of the bike lane:
Yet even with all the impositions it's good to see they embolden New York City's cyclists to carry increasingly wide loads:
If we keep filling the bike lanes with bikes there won't be room for anyone else.