Sunday, August 18, 2013

Summer Streets

I used to have a hot pink bicycle that I loved to ride around my childhood town. A gang of prepubescent outlaws, the other neighborhood kids and I would stick baseball cards in our spokes and whizz up and down quiet, tree lined streets, yelling "no hands" as we flew down gentle hills that seemed like the Colorado Rockies from our eight-year-old perspective. When I entered high school and moved elsewhere, my trusty pink bike became a pre-license form of transit that got me to friend's houses--leapt off and casually discarded in front yards with little worries of bike locks or consequence. 

One of the things that I dislike about New York City is that it is a difficult city for leisurely bike riding. When we were in Vancouver, we loved renting bikes and riding around Stanley Park--embracing the plentiful and well-designed bike lines. While friends in Brooklyn always claim that they ride bikes everywhere, up here in Manhattan, biking seems like sort of a daredevil move only to be committed by adolescents lacking the forethought and fear of death that would result in restraint from impulsive behavior like riding in bike lines often filled with trucks and illegally parked cars.

"Summer Streets" occurred this Saturday in New York City. Each summer, for three Saturdays, Park Avenue is closed to cars all of the way down to Brooklyn Bridge. The streets fill with bikers, runners, and rollerbladers and, for that one day, New York City feels a little like childhood. M. and I rented bikes on Saturday for this fun summer event and rode down to--and across--the Brooklyn Bridge and then found ourselves enjoying the experience so much that we rode around Brooklyn and then back over to Manhattan via the Manhattan Bridge. From there, we followed a bike path (that we didn't even know existed) all of the way up the East River until around the forties where we crossed over to First Avenue and continued back into the Upper East Side. On our jaunt, we found a community of bike riders who were happy to share tips about where to ride, we also found ourselves in the midst of cabs on a slightly scary venture up one part of First Avenue, but, most importantly, we rediscovered our city on a bicycle. 
While NYC still has much progress to make in order to be a truly bike friendly city, I am no longer terrified of biking here and am even considering becoming one of those people who bikes to work. I am planning to test it this week, so I'll let you know how it goes! I am already dreaming of a grown-up version of that trusty little hot pink bike that I had so many years ago...

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