Snapshots of Cycling Life in New York City

Empire Fulton Ferry State Park visitors wheel their bicycles toward the East River.

Madison, Wisconsin may be one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the United States, but its miles of trails and urban bike lanes were not enough to prepare me for the fast-paced cycling of New York City. Much like the move to the city itself, it takes a certain steeling of the nerves to weave through throngs of pedestrians at an intersection or calmly pedal while cars whiz by on both sides at 60 miles an hour.

Over the past three months I have seen bikers pull all kinds of tricks, from cruising the wrong way down a busy highway to running red lights and letting walkers on the Brooklyn Bridge fend for themselves as wheels roll inches from their toes. Though the city still has a ways to go before cyclists are able to coexist happily and safely with pedestrians and vehicles, there is a glimpse that some parts of New York City can belong to the bi-wheeled. Cyclists readily take to the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway and brightly colored bikes crowd the storefronts of trendy Williamsburg vintage shops. There is news of new paths in Manhattan and the forthcoming bicycle sharing program. Bikes chained to every surface imaginable are a constant reminder that bicycles are here to stay—and we all must continue to learn to live with that.

Photos: Signe Brewster

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