Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bike Commuting Take 2

I've tried to bike commute in the past, but quickly fell off the wagon. I was all gung-ho in May 2009, but life had other plans that summer. It rained almost every day in June, my life went crazy in a bad way, and when I moved to Park Slope, my potential bike commute went from 5.5 miles to 9 miles, a task far too daunting for someone like me who is decidedly not a morning person.

Now I am happily back in Williamsburg, and my new bike commute is a much more manageable 3.5 miles, so I am recommitting for real. To force myself to bike regularly, I signed up for a metrocard (through my work transit check program) with only enough money to travel by subway half the month. I'll see how this goes and hopefully adjust to an even cheaper metrocard in the warmer months. I'm also hoping that because the ride is relatively short, I won't get sweaty enough in the summer to need a gym membership just to shower before work.

To prepare, I bought a basic fender for my back tire (something like this) to protect me from slush and rain spraying up my back, and got my bike tuned up. My bike is over 10 years old and I'd never taken it for a tune up before. I'd always wondered if the creaky gears and weird noises were a sign it might fall apart at any minute, so it's good to feel confident in its working condition now.

So this morning, I rode my bike to work for the first time this year. I've been getting around Williamsburg and Bushwick by bike all winter, so the 30 degree weather didn't faze me. I don't wear any special gear for biking in the cold - just my usual clothes, winter coat, gloves, scarf, a ski headband underneath my helmet, and a backpack. For now, I'm bringing a clean shirt to change into when I get to work.

It was 30 minutes door to door, the same as taking the subway. The route had me safely on bike lanes most of the way. Bike lanes have come under a lot of controversy lately in New York, but they are necessary for bicycling to become a viable form of transportation as we move away from reliance on cars and oil, and I am personally grateful for the Department of Transportation's work to create an extensive bike lane network in this city. And I didn't encounter any ticket-happy police. Here we go...

Have you ever tried or thought about commuting by bike?


  1. I love riding my bike to work. When I first decided to do it in April, I was really nervous, and mostly stuck to separate bike paths and quiet streets. But I'm much more comfortable with it now, and it's so much better than riding the bus—quicker and more relaxing. I had to go back to the bus during those horrible snow storms this winter, and it nearly killed me. Of course, my commute's only 2.5 miles, so it's easier than yours.

  2. biking to work in NYC really kinda scares me. I think i'd think about it a little more seriously if I worked in Brooklyn or Queens - something about heading into Manhattan on a bike sounds super daunting.

  3. brenda - that's great that you're getting more comfortable with biking to work. 2.5 miles is nothing to sneeze at.

    very married - i think there is a misconception that biking in manhattan is scarier than biking in brooklyn...a lot of people feel that way. it's all about what kind of street you're biking on. lower east side, lots of stop signs and slow traffic = good. bike lanes = good. but biking on an avenue with fast moving cars and no bike lane is something i don't want to do on say atlantic avenue in brooklyn or an avenue in manhattan.
    getting over the bridge can be daunting though...bridges are a workout!

  4. this is awesome. a friend in san fran once told me one of the most important things he looked for in a job was one he could bike to. that might sound weird, but it was all about quality of life for him, not just the job. i have a mountain bike but it's so slow that i'm considering getting a road bike...if only they weren't so expensive.

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