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urban biking article(1 post)

urban biking articleMJ
Oct 24, 2002 12:27 AM

The Savvy Traveler: Biking NYC
By Jeff Lunden
The Savvy Traveler

Editor's note: The Savvy Traveler is produced by Minnesota Public Radio and features firsthand experiences and observations of travelers around the globe.


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(The Savvy Traveler) --Reporter Jeff Lunden lives in one of the busiest and most "alive" cities around: New York City. Biking in such an urban area takes nerves of steel -- it might even sound like a bit of a death wish to the uninitiated. But somehow, Jeff had a change of heart and decided to brave the streets of Gotham on two wheels. He filed this report:

Last winter, I looked in the mirror and decided to do something about my middle-aged spread. So, I went on a diet and, since diets don't work without exercise, when the spring arrived, I bought myself a bike. I live Brooklyn, on the edge of Prospect Park, and I figured I'd use the bike to ride around the park's 3.5-mile loop. But after a while, I found myself wanting to go somewhere. I picked up a couple of guidebooks and discovered that not only is New York City a great place for the arts and commerce and food, but it's also a great place to go biking!

Noah Budnick works for Transportation Alternatives, a biking advocacy group.

Noah: Once you feel comfortable riding your bike on the streets, not only the simple joys of riding, but the unarguable convenience of the bicycle become crystal clear. If you ride your bike, you always have a parking space and you never have to worry about money for a cab or a subway token. And, you never have to wait for the subway to come either.

This past summer, I rode all over New York, pedaling down the bike path to Brighton Beach, where I had borscht on the boardwalk, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge and having dim sum in Chinatown -- OK, so even on a diet, you gotta eat. And I rode up and down the Hudson River Greenway, on the West Side. This 12-mile route is the backbone of the city's bike network, says Noah Budnick.

Noah: On an average weekend, over 10,000 people use it.

And, it's not hard to see why -- it's a great ride! You can go all the way from Battery Park up to the George Washington Bridge. Downtown, you zip past traffic along West Street ...

(traffic sounds)

...and are treated to fantastic views of the Hudson River and Jersey Shoreline.

Jeff: This is one of my favorite places on the bike path: this is the Trapeze School New York, and it's exactly what you'd expect.

In all, we rode 18 miles, and I had a great time, visiting new places, learning about the city's history, and getting plenty of exercise! There are literally hundreds of bike lanes and bike paths in New York City -- and over 100,000 people use them every day. The city produces a free map, which you can pick up at bike stores and rental kiosks, and it's an invaluable resource, filled with biking tips, tourist highlights and listings of cycling organizations. Many of these groups sponsor bike events, like a monthly midnight ride in Central Park.

While I was riding along the Hudson River Greenway the other day, I loaned my bike pump to a young cyclist from Amsterdam.

Jeff: Where have you been riding, here in New York?

Young cyclist: Oh, through the whole city. It's very nice to ride on a bicycle through New York, I think. Even on Times Square -- I mean, why not? (Laughs)

As long as you watch out for those doors, I couldn't agree more! For The Savvy Traveler, I'm Jeff Lunden in New York.