Sunday, May 20, 2018

Exploring NYC by Bicycle - Parting Thoughts

A small selection of cream cheese varieties available at Bagel World in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Oreo cream cheese, really?

A small wheeled or folding bike as a NYC/big city commuter
A folding bicycle saves on space in apartments, has low step-over for easier on/off or wearing skirts, threads easier around vehicles (parked in the bike lane) due to quicker turning radius and narrower handlebars. Granted, 20" wheels roll sightly slower than traditional bicycles - noticeable, keeping up with my son - but not enough to discount the positive aspects. Grip shifting is very easy to use and was a perfect compliment to the inclines/ descents of the bridges. For me it was the perfect alternative to my regular commuter bike. An as an aside, I've been eyeballing this type of bike - a non-foldable 20" wheel bike (which I mention in case the link doesn't survive long-term) because this might be an alternative for a city dweller who's concerned about storage. Needless to say, I would take my Dahon on a train again!

Types of bikes used as transportation
During our 5-day stay, we noticed that of the bicycles ridden, 50% are e-bikes, mainly by delivery people, and the other 50% of human-powered vehicles are comprised of bike share and all other types of bikes. I am impressed with how common it is to see bike share in use - the blue bicycles stand out mainly because of the blinking tail light.

Habits and etiquette
It is common for all bike riders to weave around autos and trucks double-parked or/in a bike lane. It was unnerving at first, not knowing whether vehicles approaching from behind would allow riders the chance to zip into their lane and back again, but there seemed to be a certain unsung etiquette among drivers that gave us the right of way. I wonder if the sheer numbers of riders had anything to do with the drivers' manners or because we were also riding about the same speed. We also noticed a distinct lack of hand signals with cyclists and 50% or less wear helmets. And those red traffic signals? Look both ways and if clear, keep right on trucking!

Infrastructure
NYC uses lots of paint! Sharrows and bike lanes are commonplace with bike boxes (designated space for cyclists to advance/stop ahead of automobiles at traffic lights). One-way roads typically place the bike lane on the left side of the road, allowing better visibility for drivers (we presume). It was odd to navigate at first, but made sense once we adjusted and joined the other riders. On the occasion where we rode on unmarked one-way roads, it was difficult to determine where we should be.

Keeping travel bags light
This being my first experience carrying baggage on my folder, I packed light, but tech heavy. I carried a phone, tablet, camera, and laptop. My son didn't bring a tablet, but his load was heavier, lugging his heavy laptop and DSLR camera. I carried minimal clothing, using a small duffel bag strapped to rear rack while my son used two panniers. We both carried backpacks for additional space that also doubled to carry gear on daily adventures. Either way, we only lugged full loads three times: 5 miles to Amtrak station at the beginning of our trip, then 7 miles each direction from Penn Station to our accommodation.

10 comments:

  1. It has been such a pleasure to read about the nearly week-long adventure with your son. What a fantastic experience for you both, I'm sure, and to get to see all of your photos was a definite treat. It's been such a long time since I was in New York that it's fun to see both some things I remember and how much it has changed.

    Hope you have (or had) a safe trip back home!

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    1. Return trip on Amtrak went fine. The only stressful part was riding from Brooklyn to Penn station in Manhattan. We didn't allow enough time and arrived 15 minutes before scheduled departure, wet from rain, and cutting it too close to stop and put on a jacket. In the end, of course, all was well.

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    2. I'm sure that was a bit stressful, but glad you made it home safe and sound.

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  2. Such a cool thing to do with your Son Annie, good on you! My,, now 15 year old daughter went to NYC with her mom last year and also loved the vibe of the city. Thanks for sharing your trip an photos. When I was in my late 20s I stayed with friends in Red Bank NJ and commuted into NY by train and walked all around, its a great city to visit.

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  3. I'm just amazed that there is a place called Bagel World. Personally, I think I would end up spending a great deal of vacation time there.

    You make it sound (at least to me) like NYC is a wonderful place to navigate by bike. Is that the case, or am I reading something into it?

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    1. NYC has been a great place to ride. Busy, for sure, but I loved not using the subway. There was a lot to see at street level. Check out this map.
      http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/bicyclists/bikemaps.shtml

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    2. I'm with Doug, I think I'd be spending too much time (and money) at Bagel World. :)

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  4. Those 20" wheel non-folding bikes are called mini velos. They are very popular in Japan and other Asian countries. They never took off or sold very well here in the US. I played around with a model Dahon made called the Smoothhound, and loved it. It rode like a big boys bike, and I could put it in the backseat of my old Honda Civic by just lowering the seatpost.

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    1. Ah, thanks Chris. I am intrigued by the simplicity and style of mini velos. Seems like they could be a cheaper alternative to folding bikes for those cyclists who have minimal storage space.

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  5. I have a weird fascination — and absolutely no use for — minivelos! I have a similar fascination with cargo trikes.

    Thanks for sharing your NYC adventure. It was so fun to read along!

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