Bicycles in New York

This ridiculously hipster hotel is where Matt's company put him up. He called it the porno fantasy hunting lodge.

This ridiculously hipster hotel is where Matt’s company put him up. He called it the porno fantasy hunting lodge.

Matt spent last week in New York. While he was there, he remembered that what I always want is pictures of bicycles in new places.  There has been lots of discussion of New York City’s commitment to creating major-league cycling infrastructure. From Matt’s admittedly very short-term visitor’s perspective, they’ve been successful.

You too can ride the streets of New York.

You too can ride the streets of New York.

When we went to Copenhagen in 2011, we had no idea that it was one of the bicycling capitals of the world. Probably the only reason we even bothered to get on bikes at all was that bike rentals were advertised on literally every corner. And what a life-changer that turned out to be. To rent our bikes all we had to do was cross the street to the shop directly in front of our apartment and ask. We delayed even that for a while because we assumed they wouldn’t be able to put child seats on our bikes, which was silly in retrospect. We could have spared ourselves days of tedious walking just by asking. New York has enough of a cycling culture now that bike rentals were everywhere too. Alas, no bike share yet.

I have yet to see cycling infrastructure this good in San Francisco.

I have yet to see cycling infrastructure this good in San Francisco.

San Francisco has a separated cycle track in Golden Gate Park, but it’s not protected from cars by anything but paint. Neighbors also objected to painting the bike lane green to differentiate it from parking, claiming that it would look too obtrusive (in a park!) I like the lanes in the park anyway, but the protected lanes on Broadway in NYC make them look pathetic.

Bikes only; the rest of you can circle endlessly.

Bikes only; the rest of you can circle endlessly.

I rode to downtown San Francisco last Friday afternoon. It took less than 20 minutes door to door in the middle of Christmas shopping season, and I parked right in front of the building in the middle of Union Square. Ha ha! I made excellent time in part because for several blocks I was able to ride through intersections where right turns were signed as mandatory for everyone except buses, bicycles, and commercial vehicles. New York has evidently made the same decision to prioritize cycle traffic in the middle of town.

A "Do not enter" sign for bicycles is a new one for me too.

A “Do not enter” sign for bicycles is a new one for me too.

A different sign Matt found I’ve never seen in San Francisco: the “Bicycle Wrong Way” sign. I have some doubts about whether anyone pays the slightest attention to it, as I suspect no one here would. But it’s nice to be recognized as traffic, even if it is a don’t-go-here signal.

Nothing stops the angle grinder, except maybe the death penalty.

Nothing stops the angle grinder, except maybe the death penalty.

Some things are the same in both New York and San Francisco, however. Bike theft is rampant both places. New Yorkers, I’m sorry to say that not even a hardened chain will protect your bike from a guy with an angle grinder. We learned that the hard way.

New York City: it’s no São Paulo. It looks like a good place to ride a bike. I hope we get to try it sometime.

2 Comments

Filed under destinations, travel

2 responses to “Bicycles in New York

  1. Oh great! Now I can add ‘angle grinder,’ to my list of nightmare boogiemen (not really). But it made me think of two ideas that recently came to me to discourage bike thieves, in addition to the idea you already mentioned: 1. Take the bike seat with you (in backpack), 2. Put a GPS tracker inside the bike frame. Re: #1, I think thieves want something of value, so taking away the seat takes away some of the value of their robbery, it would also add annoyance if they think they would actually have to spend money (!) on parts in order to use or resell the bike; additionally, for common variety thieves not having a seat would prevent them from simply hopping on the bike and ridding away. Re:#2, I misplaced my iPhone once and I used that free app: Find My Phone! And boom, there is was, pinpointed on a GPS map (at Mary’s house)…since then my ears perk up like an alert terrier when I hear of similar products or stories…even the laptop of Steve Jobs was stolen and then found this way. I have now heard to items called: ‘Pet Trackers,’ which folks can put on their dogs collar and thus locate them. Maybe prices will come down and make this even a more attractive option. If the police actually KNOW where a bike could be found they would go look for it — but bikes are too easily hidden or broken up for parts. On the other hand, I think your suggestion of the death penality might be too severe…and I’m gonna go out right now and lower my deductible…um, well, maybe after the snow season is over.

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