Radio Free Montone: Cycle And The City
By John Montone, 1010 WINS
New York is now a cycling city.
Sitting in northbound traffic on West Street and looking over the cars jamming the southbound lanes I watched dozens of men and women on bicycles whizzing by along the Hudson. It was a mild May morning so I rolled down my window.
Some of the cyclists rode Citi Bikes while others presumably pedaled their own two-wheelers. One gentleman in a business suit had one hand on the handlebar while the other held tight to a suitcase which dangled at his side. Many toted backpacks or had pocketbooks sitting in baskets. Their hair flew as the moved and move they did as I remained stuck behind a tow truck with some unlucky driver’s car on its way to the tow pound.
Bike lanes now run through and connect the boroughs allowing tens of thousands of New Yorkers to cycle to work. And the city has a “Bicycles in Buildings,” program designed to provide secure parking in or near offices. So most of the people pedaling on the West Side would be locking up their bikes and reporting to their jobs while I squeezed from the left lane to the center to by-pass a broken down truck.
I had turned right from Houston Street a good half an hour ago and had yet to reach the Javits Center. 57th Street and the Henry Hudson seemed out of reach. So I had plenty of time to think. Which I did.
I cannot join the bike to work revolution because I travel with car full of mixers, laptops, wires, recorders, mics and other equipment whose existence is known only to radio reporters and engineers. I must also be ready to get from one far off city neighborhood to another much faster than my aging legs would ever take me.
At 42nd Street I started to notice that the usual dull ache I get in my lower back from sitting in the company car had morphed into a steady throb. And I could feel my hamstrings tighten — meaning if I wasn’t careful getting out of the car, one would surely pop and leave me limping for two weeks.
But unlike Major League Baseball, my news manager at 1010 WINS would not be inclined to put me on the 15 day DL. I’d have to play through the pain.
Oh to be cycling on such a mild May morning, I thought. And that thought reminded me that just the day before a friend who walks from the Port Authority bus terminal to his Midtown office confessed a desire to shove a walking stick in the spokes of the cyclists who come close to decapitating him every day as he crosses Broadway. He told me of maniacs racing through red lights while riding in the wrong direction. Now to be fair cyclists have complained to me about cabbies cutting them off and they say that even with clearly marked bike lanes drivers often open their doors without looking and BAM!
Cyclists actually call it, “Getting doored.”
But almost a year into Citi Bike and with more and more two-wheelers on city streets, those predictions of mass carnage have thankfully not come true. Drivers seem to be getting used to the new lanes and most cyclists seem to be obeying traffic laws and staying off the sidewalks.
Still riding a bike through packed streets full of genetically impatient people whose feet are on accelerators carries some risk. And that may be why dozens of cyclists rode up to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine last week for the, “Blessing of the bikes.”
Which is fine, but wear a helmet, too.