*Edit: I apologize for the messed up spacing, it all looks good on the back end so I’m guessing its some glitch
New York City just pulled that classic Midwestern move of shifting from winter directly into summer. Today was 82* and humid. Tomorrow we have a high of 89*. I’m sweating just thinking about it.
So why yap on about the forecast? This stuff is crucially important because as soon as things warm up the city transforms in a few ways. People suddenly pour out of their little brick hermit caves and sun themselves on picnic blankets in parks. Merengue music begins blaring out of open car windows. The ice cream trucks emerge out of hibernation and are suddenly on every damn corner.
The warm weather is great. Until it’s not.
Because it gets HOT. And it gets HUMID. and the sidewalks just bake all day in the sun until they cook every random piece and drop of anything that has landed there. Things smell really funky. The worse part? the subterranean subway stops turn into swampy, damp tunnels of nasty.
To limit my exposure to the above mentioned urine swamps, I do my best to avoid the subways during the summer months. Last summer this meant walking everywhere, which also kept with my status as an unemployed person because subway rides are $2.75 each way. Yes, you read that right, $2.75 each way. So if I take the subway up to the grocery store and back again, I’ve just added $5.50 to my grocery bill. Do you see why people pay the extra couple bucks to just get things delivered?
One great alternative to the subway that’s faster (and more fun) than walking? A bike of course!
I’ve been tempted by the CitiBikes around town, which are the same concept as NiceRide in Minnesota and Hubway in Boston. Citibikes are everywhere, more prevalent than in both of the aforementioned cities. That said, they are also the most beat-up and abused bikes I have ever seen, and don’t bother calling their help line, you’ll just get a busy tone. How New York of them.
I’ve wanted to sign up for a CitiBike since the day I moved to this city but Selemon has been really against it. I can appreciate that he appreciates my life so I’ve respected that desire (he saw someone get run over by a bus on a bike, which I’ve also seen in Minnesota, and is most definitely traumatic). Buuuuuuuuut my work is about a 35 minute walk and an equally inefficient subway ride, yet only 13 minutes via bike. There are also designated bike paths (bike lanes separated from the actual road) along 1st and 2nd Avenues, the one-way roads I take to and from work.
I consulted some more seasoned New Yorkers and no one was terribly encouraging (my boss told me to just assume every single person was going to hit me and every car door was going to open) but I pushed ahead.
I paid the $150 for a yearly membership of unlimited rides, and you guys, its great. I’m 11 rides in and really happy with my decision.
I mean, I haven’t gotten hit yet, which is fantastic. I’ve also learned that while I should assume everyone is going to hit me, I can’t hesitate, because there is no room for hesitation in New York City streets, and it makes your bike wobbly. And before you ask, Mom, yes I wear my helmet.
I took some pictures on my very first CitiBike Ride, which was as nerve-wrecking as it was gorgeous. The second half of my ride (and the pictures) are from an actual bike path along the Hudson River because obviously I’m not going to take pictures while attempting to stay alive biking down 6th Avenue.
I consider this a big step forward in getting comfortable in this city. It may be risky, but it makes me happy and it makes me feel more at home, more capable of exploring, and just more “a part of things”. I don’t like letting fear make decisions for me, and as long as I’m reasonably safeguarded (again I have my helmet, don’t ride with music, etc) there’s no reason to hold back from an efficient way to get around that makes you smile. Plus, pedestrians are hit with enough frequency to prove that walking isn’t a slam-dunk in safety either.
My favorite part? This all means I have an even better way to avoid those forthy subway swamps! Wins all around 🙂
Nothing beats the view of the Hudson River along the West Side Highway. I drink in these moments. Isn’t biking the best? The subway doesn’t have views like this.
The bike path! This is actually the only time I’ve been on an actual “path”, which means it was a great place to start. Plus, I just love that Freedom Tower, don’t you? It’s so shiny! So pretty! So regal!
I had to take a picture of my very first CitiBike. Thanks for keeping me safe, CitiBike!