After getting some hard work done today, I rewarded myself with another ride around NYC. This time I went over the Manhattan Bridge–far less ped/bike friendly than the Brooklyn or Williamsburg bridges, but emptier for that, and I enjoyed the solitude. I then rode up the East River, cutting over to Park Ave. around 37th Street. I wanted to zip down a bustling avenue at rush hour to see how we all get along on these shared streets.
In New Orleans, I’m sharing with cars and trucks, a few other cyclists, and an occasional pedestrian or maybe an electric wheelchair. Today in Manhattan I was sharing with coolsters and their zippy fixies, innumerable cabs, double decker tourist buses, city buses closing in on both sides, dangerously darting pedestrians, and out-of-towner cars that don’t seem to know what they’re doing or where they’re headed. I anticipated being nervous surrounded by speeding cars, but that’s not what demanded my sharpest attention. No, it was this scene here, the car or cab pulling over quickly in front of me, double parking while letting passengers in and out. Passing on the left risks meeting vehicles making the same dodge; passing on the right means running in to pedestrians. In fact, these strange walkers (I was one for years) pose the most danger on these roads. Bikers and cars appear virtually invisible to them, moving as they do in packs. I’m speeding down this avenue, and walkers are oblivious to my presence (is it so impossible to imagine a bicycle on the roads? What makes us so invisible to pedestrians?), leaving me with no sure safe escape while attempting evasive maneuvers. Biking in NYC takes careful attention, at least until you do it long enough to know the rhythms, to know that this woman exiting this particular cab is going to take her time, as will the older woman to follow. Best to take a leap of faith; time to pass on the left. Riding in NYC has been exhilarating, and I most certainly am going to miss it, and the thrill of sharing roads with so many people engaged in so many different travels, even if they sometimes make me crazy.