I have found a new love. Or, more accurately, I have reunited with an old love: bicycling. Last year, while living in Harrisonburg Virginia, I embraced this thrilling mode of transportation while going to and from campus, the grocery store, the farmer’s market, and the boyfriend’s house but I never expected to continue biking in New York City for several reasons:
1. I don’t want to die.
2. I don’t want to die.
3. I don’t want to die.
Not to say that biking in NYC is a death sentence but, well, have you ever seen NYC traffic (not to mention the bewildered, naive tourists wandering around in the streets, lost in their maps)?? These two dangers combined with my unsteadiness on a bike create a triple threat recipe for disaster. Even my most experienced housemates have had their share of biking catastrophes.
One housemate was riding through a danger zone (aka passing a stopped taxi) when a car door suddenly swung open, nailing her bike and causing her to fly over the handlebars. As she lay with her feet in the air and her body pinned between the door and the cab, she could not decide which was worse: the pain or the embarrassment.
Another of my housemates was biking across an intersection when a taxi cab turned into him, hitting his bike and sending him over the handlebars (what is it with bikers always flying over handlebars?). He suffered no injuries but, alas, his bike did not fare so well and it took months to fix. As for the taxi driver, I don’t even think he was aware of the incident because he kept driving like nothing happened.
With these very real fears in the back of my mind, I respectfully declined any invitation to bike– until this past Friday. It was a dark and stormy night (more accurately it was dark and sprinkling rain but nonetheless treacherous) and my housemates and I were headed to a friend’s birthday party. Since there is no fast and easy transportation across Manhattan, we decided that walking or biking were the ways to go.
Already late, we were faced with the choice of taking 30 minutes to walk or 8 minutes to bike. After surprisingly little persuasion we threw on our helmets, wrapped our ankles with reflective patches, and headed out into the night. I must say it was the most exhilarating bike ride of my life: zipping across intersections, weaving around parked cars, shouting, singing, and laughing at each other. We showed up to the party soaked and soggy but just in time for plenty of drinks and conversation.
I enjoyed the experience so much I went for a leisurely ride with a housemate a few days later, this time in the warm sunshine and I am now convinced that biking in the city is the way to go. First of all, it is a more efficient form of exercise than walking. Secondly, it beats the crowds and hassle of subway and bus riding. And thirdly, it gives you the chance to see the city in a way you have never seen it before.