Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Adventure Ride

Adventure ride
By Annie Muzaurieta

This weekend I ended up at a church tag sale in Connecticut. Among the standard tag-sale items—dusty boardgames, slightly broken sleds, refurbishable pieces of furniture—was a bike. This bike was bright turquoise—except for the rusty spots—and it looked about 20-years-old. It squeaked a bit when I took it for a test ride, and the metal frame was crooked. When the vendors told me they were offering it for $8, I was sold. Had it not been a church tag sale raising money for charity, I probably would’ve just offered to remove it from the property.

I had been thinking about purchasing a bicycle ever since I rented one with some friends over the summer. I had a blast riding around New York City, feeling like I was partaking in an adventure sport. But I was nervous about parking it and locking it. And what if it starts raining midday? What if I have extra bags to carry home? The $8 price tag enabled me to put the fear aside and try it out.

When I rode my new—well really old, but new to me—bike to work for the first time today, I felt proud. I’m glad I purchased a used bike, and now I could quickly get to work in an environmentally responsible way (I usually take public transportation, but since I’m only one stop away…). I wasn’t contributing to greenhouse gases or noise pollution, and the short commute even got my heart rate up, though that might have been due to the number of taxis racing up Eighth Avenue with me.

But I felt cool, too. When fellow cycle commuters and bike messengers rode near me, I imagined I was part of an elite club. I was able to move swiftly through traffic, hardly having to stop at a red light. Over the past few months, whenever I told someone that I would love to ride a bike to work, the response was usually “I’d be too scared to ride in the City.” I was now a part of the roughly 11 percent of brave New Yorkers who bike or walk to work.

With the relatively new bike lanes that Mayor Bloomberg has put in place, I had a clear path to ride on. The cars even seemed, well, respectful of the special lanes. And several websites such as Transportation Alternatives and NYC Bike Maps offer detailed bike pathway information to make trips easier.

I’m really looking forward to riding home tonight down Ninth Avenue, where 10-foot-wide bike lanes have been carved out as an experiment, using parked cars as a buffer from traffic.

Provided my bike is still there, of course.

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