Diary of a First-Time City Biker
I probably should not be allowed to bike on the streets of New York.
As the Big Apple adds more miles of bike lanes and launches its bike share program next spring, more and more people are hopping on the urban biking trend that's already picking up across the country. Ever one to hop on the bandwagon, I decided to check out why cycling has become so big. (Related: The Best Bike Trails for Beginners)
Unfortunately, when I told my friends of my plans to pick up city biking, they were skeptical. And perhaps for good reason. Until then, my cycling experience had been limited to pedaling around my hometown block and a bucketlist ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. Plus, I had already gotten hit by a car this spring while walking across the street.
My sister started sending me Youtube videos of bicyclists getting hit by cars.
I guess I didn't get the warning. Determined to become an urban cyclist, I decided to check out Specialized's Source Eleven bike and was so excited to take it out for a spin when it arrived.
My first task was to get the bike from work to my apartment across town—which meant riding it through some of the busiest streets of Midtown. No big deal, right? However, as soon as I rolled my bike outside, my nervousness kicked in. There were cars. And buses. Very big buses. In a moment of self-preservation, I decided to walk the bike up to Central Park before hopping on.
Over the next few days, I worked out a compromise with my friends and concerned coworkers that—at least at first—I would avoid pedaling on the street and only ride my bike in Central Park or on the West Side Highway bike path. While my ego protested, there was definitely some wisdom in their advice.
I'm not sure if it was fear (or the thought that I'd have to bring the bike up and down six flights of stairs every time that I wanted to ride it), but it was a couple of weeks before I took the bike out again. I had settled on checking out the West Side Highway for my innaugural ride.
After my initial nervousness wore off, I had a blast. I loved feeling the rush of the road underneath me and got to see the city in a way that I never had before. Definitely can't wait to do it again. Maybe I'll graduate to the roads soon.
—Emily G. W. Chau is a very nervous editor who is picking up biking in the city. Check back for updates as she (we hope!) gains confidence on the road
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