Archive for February, 2012

February 28, 2012

The Soundtrack in my Head

Let's Blog Off badge from letsblogoff.com

This post is inspired by #letsblogoff, a blog-writing challenge I stumbled across a while back thanks to Twitter. Every two weeks they throw out a theme and bloggers riff on it, taking it in all kinds of directions. We all link to each other’s posts but I am currently having trouble getting the Javascript to run that would pull the table, so for now go look at this post on Let’s Blog Off.

The current theme is “that song stuck in your head.” Now, earworms are a common malady at our house. Even though you’ll never walk in and find us actually playing a CD, we seem to have plenty of music floating around somehow.

For one thing, I live with a daughter who performs in musical theater, so we often find ourselves humming a snatch of some show tune. I’m currently really stuck on some of the numbers from “Legally Blonde, The Musical”–she played Elle Woods in a production last December and was fantastic.

Sweet Hubs likes to plug in his MP3 player and rock out while he’s working on projects in the garage, which will sometimes entail him coming back and forth into the house to grab a coffee refill or something. When I find myself singing a number from The Police or Queen later on, it’s probably because he sang a bit in the kitchen.

Or we’ll be talking about some story from high school or college years, think of a song it reminds us of, say, “Who was that singer again?”, and go find a clip on YouTube.

These and other sources contribute the soundtrack that sometimes plays in my head as I ride my bike to work, or to errands and meetings during the day.

Sometimes the song is pretty obvious:

Sometimes it’s one that reflects my mood (watch for the bicycle at the very beginning of the video—I hadn’t realized it was there until I went to find this):

It may be something that makes me dance a little on my bike saddle, like this one (I defy you not to dance):

The Thursday Zumba class I go to at work contributed this one:

I rarely find myself in the car driving somewhere, but recently have had to do some Stage Mom duties to ferry Second Daughter home from rehearsals. If I’m not listening to NPR I find a station that plays music I listened to in high school and college, which can plant an earworm or two. I might end up with something like this:

or this:

or this, if I spot a kitty cat along the way:

And then there’s this one, which is now in my head because the Let’s Blog Off had the theme “If you could turn back time” on their list of past topics:

You’re welcome.

Related Reading

  • Sing It Loud, Sing It Proud: A Fourth of July post on Bike to Work Barb, my personal blog, about sings that for me relate to being an American–some great earworms on this list too

Your Turn

What’s on your mental turntable?

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February 23, 2012

They’re Coming Back! Spring and Health

Reasonably good indicators on both fronts: returning health, and returning spring. Biking keeps me attuned to both conditions–my physical well-being and the turning of the seasons–in ways that driving could never provide.

Health: My uphill ride home is a real indicator of whether I’ve shaken off whatever crud has attacked.

Not good: I sound like someone you’d want beginning nurses and doctors to listen to with a stethoscope for the definition of the word “rales” because I’m still crackling like a bowl of Rice Krispies.

Not good: Still a most unladylike amount of nasal fluids being produced.

Good: On the last couple of climbs toward home I’m no longer in first gear–I’m in third. Woohoo! These are hills that I usually do in the middle ring of my front derailleur, not the little ring, so I still have a way to go, but this is progress.

Spring: Like fall, it’s another shoulder season when I start playing “musical layers”–take off one, take off another one, decide I need that one for a few more days after all….

I also play musical gloves: lobster-claws in the morning, five-fingered in the afternoon because my hands would sweat in the lobsters.

Right now I need to be dressed more warmly for the ride to work because I create more speed and thus more windchill factor going downhill, it’s colder in the morning, and I don’t have the warmth of working to go uphill. In full summer it’s the same morning and afternoon.

Today’s outfit:

  • Black cotton/Lycra leggings
  • Lightweight Helle Hansen long johns–not the thick Hot Chilis I was wearing a few weeks ago
  • Wool socks
  • Tall gray boots (a souvenir of my trip to New York City with Second Daughter)
  • Camisole
  • Microweight cream-colored long-sleeved wool tee from Swrve
  • Gray cable-knit hoodie sweater from REI
  • Cute scarf
  • Morning: Windbreaker, lobster-claw gloves
  • Afternoon: Stopped halfway home to take off the windbreaker; five-finger gloves
  • Long gone: The face mask I was wearing to block windchill and warm my breath; a cap under the helmet; fleece neckwarmer; another layer of wool stockings under the long johns and leggings

Biggest indicators of all that we’re turning toward spring: blue skies, fat, puffy clouds instead of gray overcast dullness, birds chirping, and the sunlight on the road as I headed home around 3:30 (can’t quite hack a whole day yet).

I can’t wait for full spring and full health. Meanwhile, the bike helps me feel more optimistic about both coming back soon!

Ride Report

  • Days ridden: 27/54 (goal is 250 days this year–travel and illness are hurting my percentages right now but I’ll get back on track)
  • Miles: 203.5 (goal for 2012 is 1,200)

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Did you ride today?
February 20, 2012

A Weak Week–Coming Back from the Flu

I had been thinking recently about writing a post on how strong biking makes me feel. Instead, this week being on the bike will force me to acknowledge physical weakness. I got back on the bike this morning after being home on the sofa for a full week, sick with an upper-respiratory flu that I haven’t really shaken yet.

This has become a bit of an unwelcome spring ritual the last few years, this nasty bug. Whether or not I get a flu shot (and I usually do but missed it this year), I seem to come down with a crud that knocks me off my feet and onto the sofa, where I lie doing abs workouts in the form of gut-wrenching coughs and concerto-style nose-blowing. I drink lots of water and herbal tea and take a few symptom-relief meds and wait it out, the way my mother would have handled it.

Every year I go through the same thing coming back. The first day I think I can put in at least a partial day at the office, I go ahead and get on the bike to ride, because that’s my habit. Downhill to work isn’t so bad. My office mates may not have appreciated the “productive” coughs I served up all day (which make me feel so unproductive), but I survived.

It’s the uphill climb coming back that really tells me I’ve been sick. I can listen to the congestion in my chest rattling as I suck wind. I gear way, way down compared to what I’d usually be in to climb. I pedal more slowly. I really, really appreciate “missing” the stoplight because then I can stop and breathe.

And since it was chilly this morning I sure wished my lobster-claw gloves had a nose-wiping patch. My nose usually runs like a faucet anyway when I ride, but it’s more fire-hydrant level at this point. (What’s that? Too much information? Sorry about that. Forgot the “style” part of this blog for a minute there….)

So why do I do it? Why not just take the easy way out and pick up the car keys?

Well, apart from all the hassle that driving represents for me, I’d honestly rather be out in the fresh air, even feeling a bit shaky, then stuck inside the car. I feel as if I’m on the road to recovery if I follow my usual habits, rather than giving in. The ride uphill on the way home becomes a barometer for my real recovery. I may be up and walking around and able to go to work, but until I can pedal home breathing normally and not have to granny-gear the last couple of hills, I’m not really well.

I’d really rather ride, even sick, than not ride.

Your Turn

  • When you’re sick do you lay off the riding as part of your recovery?
  • How do you know when you’re ready to start riding again?
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February 13, 2012

Consider Adoption–of a Bike Lane, That Is

Now that our itty-bitty bit of snow has melted, the bike lanes are left with the detritus of road sand, leaf piles some of your neighbors pushed into the lane last fall, and all the rest of the things that accumulate over the winter.

On my way home I occasionally have to take the vehicle lane instead of the bike lane because of the amount of gunk piled up alongside the curb.

Herewith, an idea for something we could get rolling informally with the goal of a more formal program down the road (ha ha—transportation joke!): Adopt-a-Bike-Lane.

Back row: Casey Owens, Carolyn Cooke, Suzanne Richardson, Cory Bone, Linda Hartley, Margaret Mendoza, Lori Morrison, Merritt Riley and Bill Riley Front row: Althea Riley and Mike Bauer Bill Riley Communities Litter Crew has participated in the Adopt-a-Highway program since April 2005. The group adopted SR512 from Canyon Road to 94th Avenue. Mile Post 6 to 8.Many years ago I had a mile of highway adopted (in north Idaho on Hwy. 41). A few times a year I got out and picked up trash. It offered all the entertainment value of an Easter egg hunt except what you find is NOT chocolate and you DON’T want to put it in your mouth….

What I have in mind for bike lanes is kind of along those lines, but made a lot easier since the city already cleans streets every so often. (No one was off in the weeds alongside Hwy. 41 gathering empty generic vodka bottles and crumpled cigarette packs except me.)

What would be utterly fantastic as a starting point would be people adopting the stretch of bike lane (or designated bike route, or heck, even the two or three feet of a regular street closest to the curb) alongside our homes.

It’s essentially a small extension of yard work. When we go out to rake up pine needles or maple leaves in the fall, shovel snow in the winter, or clean off debris in the spring, we just extend our responsibility beyond the sidewalk (which is already our job, in case you didn’t know) and the bike lane. In cold conditions we make sure we’re not rinsing water into the lane where it will freeze and create a hazard. Then we take it a little further and pick up debris: broken glass, lug nuts, stray hubcaps, pieces of wire.

When it goes formal with signage, I can see local bike clubs, service clubs, organizations like the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, and others adopting stretches that aren’t in residential areas.

Part of the inspiration for this is, admittedly, a not-very-good neighbor down the road from me on Southeast Boulevard around Fourteenth. I’ve told a few folks about the encounters I’ve had in front of the house owned by people I have not-so-affectionately nicknamed “The Blockers.”

It hasn’t been bad in recent months. Maybe they moved.

But in the past, in the bike lane there on various occasions I have encountered—I kid you not—a cardboard box full of potted plants, a table full of glassware, and a stove—an electric four-burner stove. Talk about needing to be mindful–I need to be on the lookout for major appliances!

They routinely set their garbage and green waste bins in the lane. They rake their leaves into the lane (which is a violation of city code, by the way). The next step would be to just start throwing things out of the house windows directly into the lane without bothering to containerize first.

They have a perfectly good driveway and lawn that they ignore in favor of the bike lane for all their disposal needs. Those of you who utilize the bike lane going north on Southeast Boulevard probably recognize this description.

Since everyone has something to contribute to this world, I give them full credit for inspiring the adoption idea.

Cruising the Web I’ve found a few places with something called an Adopt-a-Bike-Lane program that’s really a problem reporting program: Bike/Walk Alliance for Missoula and Fort Collins, for example.

Since when did adopting something mean you only call others to deal with the problems instead of dealing with it yourself? Sure doesn’t mean that for kids or pets!

I’m looking for more hands-on solutions in which we don’t just complain about this–we do something about it–and am hoping to see links to examples of working civic or government programs posted in the comments.

So what do you think? Would you take this on right now without the fanfare and hoopla? Would you be more likely to do so if you got a nice sign with your individual or group name for acknowledgement of your effort and commitment?

Your Turn

  • What weirdness have you encountered in the bike lane?
February 11, 2012

Unmindful Biking by Yours Truly

At times I try to approach biking as a genuine mindfulness meditation. The immersion of self into the experience feels really wonderful when I get there.

At times, though, I’m immersed in something more like dumb-ass-ness. Herewith, three stories of times I was not 100% mindful on the bike (all of which took place some time ago and believe me, I learn from each one):

Dumb #1

I’m 3rd in line (taking the lane) behind a car and a pick-up truck at a red light (westbound on Spokane Falls at Bernard, for you Spokanites–in front of FedEx Kinko’s).

Light turns green. Car goes. Pick-up goes. I go.

I look down to check what gear I’m in or some such.

Car stops for unknown reason. Pick-up stops. I am looking down so….

I run into back of pick-up, fall over, and scrape myself up badly enough that I’m still bleeding when I arrive at the meeting I’m going to.

Good news: The driver stopped to ask if I was okay and if I needed any help.

Dumb #2 (although I give myself lots of latitude on this one because of the cause)

I’m turning left onto the Southeast Boulevard bike lane from our street. As is our ritual whenever one of us leaves and the other is still at home, Sweetest Husband is on the front porch waving to me.

I make sure it’s safe to make the left turn but…. in my love for my sweetheart and my desire to wave back, I manage to take the turn a little too wide, clip the curb, and fall over, scraping my knee. (There is a theme here.)

Good news: Sweet Hubs didn’t see my fall so he didn’t have to be all alarmed and rush to my rescue. However, I may hear about this now that it has been confessed to the Gods of Google.

Dumb #3 (could have been life-ending)

Sometimes–for some deeply masochistic reason–I ride at least part of the way up Stevens on the South Hill. It’s a heart attack hill with four lanes that split into two two-lane roads, one climbing farther up the hill as Bernard, one swinging left and dropping down to join Grand Boulevard.

As I go more and more slowly up the hill I eventually give up and move to the sidewalk to push my bike up. Someday I’ll climb the whole thing again–I used to ride up Bernard on a heavy old big-box special I called the Iron Maiden.

For the record it’s a 6.8 percent climb for this particular stretch, from Fourth Avenue up to Ninth. If you search for a Google Maps route on this stretch with the Bike option they don’t put you on Washington at all; they quite wisely send you up the much quieter side street Bernard, where your huffing and puffing aren’t slowing people on a four-lane arterial.

As the lefthand lanes swing left they also top out. This is a relatively blind corner for drivers who are accelerating up the hill on a major arterial.

Map of a portion of South Stevens Street, Spokane, WA

You don't want to climb this unless you're in training. Besides being steep, it carries a sometimes scary volume of traffic around blind corners and drivers don't expect cyclists here.

Like an idiot–and I have done this more than once and lived to tell the tale–instead of continuing to push my bike on the sidewalk at this point I get into the lane, clip in and start riding again.

I do always check to make sure no cars are coming. Since there’s a traffic light a couple of blocks down it’s relatively easy to recognize a burst of traffic and wait for it to pass so you’re in a clear zone. But that’s no guarantee, as traffic can come from side streets out of sight around the corner.

On one particular occasion–the last time I ever did this maneuver–I had trouble getting started pedaling after I’d clipped in and almost fell over before I could get my foot free to catch myself.

My pulse raced beyond anything I’ve achieved on a hill climb as I realized how easily I could have died if a driver had come whipping uphill around that blind corner just then.

Good news: I learned the lesson without paying the ultimate price. Never again.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • I’ve confessed some of my dumb-ass-ness. What near-miss did you have that shook you out of some of your less mindful or more careless/complacent biking habits?
February 10, 2012

Mindful Driving, Mindful Biking, and “Accidents”–Part II

This post is Part II, continuing yesterday’s diatribe meditation on use of the word “accident” to describe a preventable negative interaction between a driver and a cyclist or pedestrian.

The conversations I often have after someone on a bike is hit tend to circle around the premise that riding a bike is an inherently risky choice of transportation.

1) First, a reminder of the point I made in Part I: The word “accident” often used in these incidents does NOT apply when someone is in error. 

2) If something does happen it’s not “caused” by riding your bike! 

You could be in a vehicle/vehicle collision, a vehicle/pedestrian collision, a lightning strike or an earthquake. Your choice to bike didn’t create the situation–the driver’s behavior (or yours) did.

When pedestrians get hit by a driver while in a crosswalk no one says, “You know, walking is so dangerous. People really shouldn’t do that.”

They talk about whether the walker or the driver wasn’t paying attention or was somehow at fault, but they don’t blame walking itself. (Nor do they blame driving, you might note.)

If I am riding my bike in the street, following state law and all local ordinances, if anything happens I am not at fault solely because of my choice of vehicle.

Yet that is what you hear when something happens–not, “Drivers and people on bikes should be aware of the laws concerning how to share the road” but rather, “Bikes should stay out of the way of cars.”

And so often people say “cars” instead of “drivers” in sentences like the previous one.

We’re talking about people, people–not their vehicles. It is people who make the choice about whether to behave safely, predictably, and legally. Let’s put a face on this problem and face up to it.

So do we all give in and quit riding our bikes and walking? Heck no—we need more people to get out there.

Conflicts between people riding bikes and people driving cars aren’t a new problem. The first automobile crash in the United States occurred in New York City in 1896, when a motor vehicle collided with a bicyclist.

Maybe now—116 years later—we can start to get a handle on this if we all drive, bike and walk more mindfully. Here’s to more fully aware drivers, bikers and walkers (aka “people”) on the road and fewer collisions (not “accidents”!) in 2012.

Related Reading

  • Can you honestly say that you drive, bike and walk with full mindfulness and awareness of your surroundings close to 100% of the time?
  • When you talk about something happening that involved a vehicle with an engine other than the human kind you use on your bike, do you refer to the car or the driver?
February 9, 2012

Mindful Driving, Mindful Biking, and “Accidents”–Part I

This post has its origins in my brush with fate this week, and before that in fall 2010, when two things happened within a few days of each other: Arleigh Jenkins AKA Bike Shop Girl (a blogger whose work I read) was hit by a car, then Matthew Hardie, a young rider in Spokane, was hit. He spent several months in a coma, then passed away just before Christmas 2010.

Because of Matthew the Spokesman-Review covered the “bicycle accidents” of 2010. But–possibly because no one has died recently–no such article was written as a round-up of statistics for 2011. “If it bleeds, it leads” still holds in the news business.

I have described my close encounter earlier this week with a driver who didn’t see me and pulled out in front of me. I was lucky–I had enough room and time in which to avoid the impact.

Matthew was not lucky. He was heading northbound on a steep downhill with the right-of-way on Lincoln; given the steepness of that hill he had to have been going faster than I was on my flat stretch between intersection stops the other day.

He collided with a car whose driver pulled out from a stop sign at Fourth Avenue. It was a classic failure-to-yield on the part of the driver (Matthew had the right of way). But because the initial reports said the cyclist hit the vehicle they made it sound as if it was the rider’s fault, to which the biking community reacted quite strongly.

Arleigh was also not lucky. She put out a comment on Twitter that she was still struggling to reconcile the fact that she’d put much of her passion into promoting biking and had been injured riding her bike by a driver who turned left into her when she had the right of way. She’s back in the saddle now, but it took a while, with quite a bit of off-road riding before she re-entered traffic.

It has been over a year since these incidents happened to others. My own is fresh and vivid, and made me think back to their stories.

With each of these events I get more passionate about two things.

For the first I need to thank Cindy Green, a bike-commuting former Spokane Bicycle Advisory Board member who works at the Spokane Regional Health District. She got me to pay more attention to my language and usage—ironic since I majored in English and linguistics.

1) The word “accident” often used in these incidents does NOT apply when someone is in error. The someone could be the person on the bike, too, but that wasn’t the case in these two collisions, nor was it the case in my avoided collision.

“Accident” means “no one could have done anything to prevent this from happening.” The Spokesman-Review’s characterization of four fatalities in 2010 as “bicycle accidents” is thus way, way off base.

In two of the cases cited in the Spokesman piece the drivers were drinking. Putting down a few shots or beers and getting into your 4,000-pound vehicle-turned-lethal-weapon car is not an “accident.”

It’s a stupid, stupid choice. Those deaths were 100% preventable: no drunk driver, no dead cyclist.

When a driver doesn’t see a cyclist, that potential collision is also preventable if the driver:

  • looks again,
  • is one who is aware that bikes are on the road so the “look” isn’t really just a token head turn without eyes focusing and looking for moving objects that aren’t vehicles (admit it—you’ve done that, and the driver I encountered earlier this week certainly did that),
  • drives mindfully,
  • doesn’t text,
  • isn’t reaching for a Big Gulp or fiddling with the radio station or….

Ditto for the person on the bike who is:

  • looking down to adjust the fitting on a shoe,
  • sneaking up (illegally) on the right side of a car into the driver’s blind spot to duck past a long line of stopped cars,
  • riding on the sidewalk and then popping out into the street unexpectedly and unpredictably,
  • assuming that driver sees him/her (since I’m more vulnerable on my bike than you are in your car I tend to figure it’s in my best interests to own more than 50 percent of the prevention planning),
  • blowing a stop sign because he’s too cool to unclip and put his foot down….

Let’s all ban the word “accident” from our vocabulary except when it truly applies. It’s a collision or a crash or an impact when a driver hits you or you hit a driver or someone hits a pedestrian or a pedestrian steps out in front of someone using wheels–but it’s no accident.

2) The second item speaks to the fear I hear from people who thinking riding a bike is inherently unsafe. I’ll post that as Part II.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Do you think about the language used to describe [euphemism alert!] “negative interactions” between people on bikes and people using other forms of transportation?
February 8, 2012

It Pays to Pay Attention

Back in the saddle again after almost a week in New York City, where people on bikes share streets with New York cabbies and millions of people, and what happens? Tuesday morning I have possibly my closest call ever with a moving vehicle, reinforcing yet again the importance of mindfulness for safe riding.

The scenario: I am riding northbound on Sherman between Fifth and Third, in a stretch that has two vehicle travel lanes and no bike lane.

I need to move into the lefthand lane because I want to be in the turn-only lane to head west on Second, which is a newly paved street (and a bike route). I always make this lane change in this block because the block between Third and Second is really short. There isn’t much time or room in that stretch so I am making a safer move by executing my lane change here–usually.

I do what I always do for a lane change. I look back to make sure the lane is clear, signal the lane change with an outflung left arm, and move into the left lane.

At the same time I am keeping an eye on a big white SUV a few yards ahead that is waiting to pull out of the Primesource Credit Union parking lot on the left side of the street and into the street on which I am riding.

This is the mindfulness part: Always be scanning your environment. Always.

My Sweet Hubs, who spent years in the Marine Corps (active duty and reserves), calls this “situational awareness.” You need mindfulness/awareness when you ride the way you need tires and brakes: essential equipment for arriving at your destination.

I see the gray-haired driver turn her head in my direction. I can tell from the way she does it that this is one of those fake scans. She turns her head but I will bet you anything her eyeballs don’t fully register what is coming downhill toward her. She doesn’t keep her face pointed uphill long enough to see for real.

I know for darn sure she doesn’t see me because she pulls out directly into my path.

I see this coming and am hitting the brakes, turning in the same direction she is heading because that’s how you avoid a collision.

But she isn’t turning into the closest lane to her—the legal turn—the lane I was occupying when she initiated this game of chicken.

Instead she is turning into the second, farther lane, the haven I’m seeking as I maneuver to avoid hitting her. (Oh, the irony—if we collide it will be me hitting her because she pulled out into my path. Who is at fault here?)

She ends up in the righthand lane. I am behind her, my heart going 60,000 miles per hour. I ride up behind and knock a couple of times on her rear quarter-panel, wanting her to see the cyclist who is now behind her. At least I’m not under her.

She makes the right turn onto Third, driving slowly and looking back to see if I’m following, now that I finally have her attention.

I debate rapidly in this moment. Should I turn behind her and wave her into a parking lot, talk with her, tell her how close she came to injuring or killing me through her sloppy and inattentive driving?

Perhaps wrongly, I decide against this. I proceed on my way, and so does the driver of a late-model white SUV, Idaho plates 7B 533. She’s from Bonner County—that’s what the 7B on her plate signifies. That’s an incredibly low license plate number so she’s had it for many years. (I used to live in Idaho; low numbers are a point of pride because they signify you’re not a newcomer.)

At this moment I am strongly reminded of the near-miss I had as a pedestrian a few years ago in the middle of the campus where I work. That driver, too, was gray-haired and not looking.

I am reminded of my father, whose driver’s license was the subject of years of effort before we could get him off the road and end the danger to others that he represented when he kept driving long after his hearing went and after any belief he’d had in the need to follow instructions on traffic signs (like, say, “stop”) had evaporated.

I am reminded of the bicycle/vehicle collisions in our area–some of which have resulted in fatalities and ghost bikes planted as memorials–and collisions around the country that I read about on biking blogs.

I am reminded—yet again—that mindfulness is the most important cycling skill I have.

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • Do you have a near-miss story?
  • Who wasn’t paying attention?
February 7, 2012

Miss Manners Would Approve: Dealing with Drivers

I try to be an ambassador from the friendly biking nation when I ride. Since throwing a hissy fit or flipping off a driver probably just confirms their existing opinion of people on bikes (since of course we are all 100% identical, unlike those unique individuals behind the wheel), I figure I’m helping a little in our ongoing efforts to build diplomatic relations and perhaps someday be admitted to the WTO (World Transportation Order).

This graphic suggests a similar approach. Consider freaking them out.

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February 2, 2012

Pedestrian Tourist Impressions of New York Biking

Cycle Cafe, New York City

It's exactly what the name suggests: Food in the front, bikes in the bike (sales and rentals). This is one door away from the hotel we picked booking online--it's karma!

My first view of biking in New York City came through the window of the SuperShuttle from LaGuardia: A young white guy in tan shorts wearing a helmet, clipped in on a road bike, blinky on his backpack, taking the lane and cheating the red to anticipate the green light that was about to change in his favor but hadn’t yet when he wove his way through a sea of drivers in a way I would never do even in lil old Spokane, let alone New York.

The second guy, dark-skinned, rode against the one-way on his low-slung bike wearing a ball cap and a hoodie pulled up over it, no helmet.

#3 was a guy on the sidewalk with a flashing headlight. Number four was on a separated bikepath on what I think was the Hudson bridge.

And finally, number five, actually spotted by Second Daughter for me: a woman wearing a helmet standing with her bike at a stoplight.

Number six powering up a hill on a side street, number seven a kid ducking up onto a sidewalk and then popping into the crosswalk—I stopped counting them as individuals as we got farther and farther into Manhattan.

We chose our hotel based on three factors: location (proximity to the studios where my younger daughter is auditioning for several musical theater college programs), price, and my daughter’s love of the French toile wallpaper in the pictures.

When we got here, we found out that not only are we literally next door to the Eugene O’Neill Theater (where “Book of Mormon” is currently showing), but we have a wonderful amenity right on the other side, as shown in the picture above.

On the High Line next to an intriguing wire and wood sculpture. This elevated pedestrian walkway is a converted freight rail line. No bikes allowed but when you're on it you understand. It's peaceful and leisurely up there and not the least bit touristy.

So far I haven’t ridden a bike here yet. But I’ve gotten to see special green-painted bike lanes and a bike-specific traffic signal (so cute! A little picture of a bike) and we walked on the High Line, a converted freight rail line that makes a wonderful urban pathway in a neighborhood near the Hudson River.

Bikes are everywhere. Bike racks abound. Lots of people here need to grease their chains—I hear them coming as they chirp-chirp-chirp down the street. Some wear helmets but most don’t, which gives me anxious little flutters on their behalf as I watch taxis veering around them with a beep of the horn. I have yet to see any seriously fashionable high-heeled women on bikes but I keep looking.

I mentioned on Twitter that I’m here and got advice from some of the women’s bike bloggers I highlighted in my NYC blogspedition. Bicycle Habitat, one of the great shops that was recommended, was on top of their social media game and tweeted that I should stop by, along with a recommendation for a tourist bike ride I’m hoping to get to take sometime in the next couple of days.

We’re walking like crazy, of course, and taking the subways. It is so amazingly easy to get around without a car in a metro area that has transit service.

I ❤ New York!

Related Reading

Your Turn

  • When you’re a pedestrian tourist in another city what do you notice about people on bikes?
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