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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