Around 86,000 New Yorkers are biking to work or school regularly, with more than 400,000 cycling trips made on a typical day in NYC, according to NYC DOT’s most recent “Cycling in the City—A Snapshot.” Here at the NYU Rudin Center, many of our researchers bike to work regularly. In the spirit of Citi Bike’s Women’s Bike Month, we all rode in to our office today and chatted about how we got started and some of our favorite moments cycling in the city.
Q1: How did you get started biking in NYC?
In 2008 I moved from my rural hometown to Buffalo, NY. A friend of mine encouraged me to try biking and a few months later I sold my car. I’ve now been commuting by bicycle for about 7 years, so when I moved to NYC it felt natural to keep biking.
I started biking in NYC because I was showing up late to everything when I took the Subway. I have more control and more freedom when I bike, plus I feel better for the whole day after having ridden in to work or school.
I biked regularly as a kid growing up in a small coastal town with safe streets and little traffic. In 2009 I moved to New Orleans, LA and one of the first things that I did was buy a bicycle. I took advantage of the year-round warm weather and used it every day. New Orleans does not have a well-developed public transportation system, making a bicycle a travel necessity for me. Although New York has amazing public transportation, biking every day is a habit that I have yet to break.
I grew up biking in the suburbs and have always loved the ease and freedom of getting around by bike. After doing the NYC Triathlon in 2008 and 2009, I feel comfortable with long rides and changing my tire. Now it’s my kids’ favorite mode, too! They have both spent tons of time on the toddler back seat of my bike.
I biked a lot when I was growing up and knew that I wanted to keep doing it through college. I never had room to keep a bike when I lived in dorms, so once I moved into my own apartment I started biking again. I live in Brooklyn, which I think makes biking easier.
Q2: Do you have any tips or tricks to share with other cyclists?
I’m a big fan of taking the longer route to stay safe. I love the website RideTheCity.com, which lets you choose routes by your comfort level, like fastest vs. safest.
First, you do you. Don’t feel pressured by other cyclists or intimidated. Second, I took a bike repair/maintenance class at a local bike shop and this was a huge boost to my confidence on the road.
In the cooler months pack a light jacket and a pair of gloves just in case it gets cold in the evening. Also – as the days get shorter, don’t forget your lights! Your once light evening commute might be dark come November!
It’s silly to have to say, but wear a helmet. I’ve never been in a horrible accident but the times I have been in minor scrape ups I’ve always been glad I was wearing my helmet. Every time I see someone biking without one I have to fight back the urge to yell at them like their mother.
Q3: What is your favorite part about your commute or biking in NYC in general?
I really enjoy seeing other people who are commuting on their bike. There’s a sense of camaraderie to it that’s really nice.
The most satisfying part of my commute is when I go faster than the cars sitting in traffic.
Biking allows you to enjoy the city in an entirely different way – you can reach places inaccessible by subway or too far to walk, but still see the city at a high speed, how it’s meant to be enjoyed.
I cross a bridge on my daily commute. Sometimes I dread the climb, but I -always- enjoy the view.
These days my commute is very short but at least once a week I try to find a different route or street to ride on.
Q4: What is your favorite biking-in-NYC moment or story?
My 2015 record of 8.5 months on a $40 metro card…yes, you read that right.
Biking up the big hill in Prospect Park, at the end of a long ride, I was really struggling. Two older women started cheering me on: “You can do it! You’re almost there!” They cheered for me until I reached the top, where I waited for them to say thank you.
One of my favorite moments was biking through a commercial shoot for the 2016 Olympics in Chinatown. They had the street closed off to cars, but let me ride down it, and they were creating steam for a cool effect for the commercial. I got to ride through the steam and felt like I was the star of the commercial!
I was biking over the Manhattan Bridge one night after work and I ended up alongside a train going the same exact speed. I glanced over and made eye-contact with a girl on the train and looked away. We both did a double-take at the same time, making eye-contact again with a big smile this time. It was one of those great, ephemeral city-moments.
One time I saw a puppy that was so cute that I forgot to look where I was going and fully wiped out on a curb. I guess that isn’t a pleasant memory, but I think it’s a funny story. And it’s a reminder to wear your helmet!
NYU Rudin Center Assistant Director Sarah Kaufman spoke with Popular Mechanics on Facebook Live yesterday. The conversation covered gridlock, bikes and driverless cars while sitting in traffic. Check out the video here:
In case you missed our announcement earlier this week, be sure to save the date for our upcoming Bus Hackathon on Saturday, March 5th. More details and registration coming soon!
Each week we pull together transportation news articles to keep up on new developments and to fuel conversations about policy and management. Here’s this week’s round-up:
It’s literally been eventful this week at the Rudin Center! From the Cooper Union’s subway map event on Tuesday where our own Sarah Kaufman presented on the possibilities of user-oriented urban wayfinding, to Wednesday’s event with Shashi Verma of Transport for London, to today’s meeting of our Emerging Leaders in Transportation program. To keep fueling these discussions, here’s what we’re reading this week:
It’s that time of the week again! If you missed our event this past Monday (October 5th) with NYC Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez you can find out more about how he hopes to make transportation safer and more efficient on our blog (click here). Otherwise, take a look at what we’re reading this week:
“A handful of topless women should not be the basis for removing the pedestrian plazas that have transformed Times Square.” – Mitchell Moss on De Blasio’s consideration of removing the neighborhood’s pedestrian plaza (Link)
Gateway tunnel project is in need of aid from both NY and NJ governors (Link)
Williamsburg to host city’s first bike-in movie featuring “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” (Link)
What are your real NYC neighborhood’s borders? Sketch them out on DNAInfo. (Link)
How Americans commute to work in major cites (Link)