Sunday, August 10, 2008

Summer Streets a Blast and NYC an Inspiration

My husband Rob Stuart and I went to NYC yesterday to ride in Summer Streets because we can't make it to next Saturday's tour being led by the Bike Coalition's Advocacy Director John Boyle. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and it made me hankering for car-free Philly streets in the upcoming Commerce Bank Bike Philly Ride on September 14th. There's something about riding on empty streets that is exhilerating and liberating all at the same time. I highly recommend going up to NYC next weekend with John.
The route is easy; we started at City Hall, up Lafayette Street, past Chinatown, Astor Place, Union Square to Park Avenue South, up to the viaduct around Grand Central Station (terrific views of the Chrysler Building, 42nd Street and a great photo spot) through the tunnel to Park Avenue (don't miss the free lemonade served by St. Bart's minister) to 72nd Street with a direct feed into Central Park. Up and back takes 2 hours with stops. Lots of cops and marshalls, we never felt unsafe or at risk. There's plenty to drink, but no port-a-potties. We bumped into Dani Simons, the NYCDOT staffer who organized the event, Noah Budnick, Deputy Director of Transportation Alternatives and met Oscar Diaz from Bogota who is consulting with NYCDOT on Summer Streets given his experience with Cyclovia.

summer streets 080908 (58) (Click on this photo to see more posted the Bike Coalition Flickr site)

If you have the energy, you can also "Bike the Falls" to see the very cool waterfalls by Olaf Eliasson, take a free ferry ride to Governor's Island (awesome views of lower Manhattan), see David Byrne's playing the building installation next door to the ferry terminal, ride up Hudson River Park, check out the separated bike lane experiment on 9th Avenue and 16st Street and the new traffic calming at Times Square. Probably all too much to pack into one day, but there's no doubt that NYC has a lot for a bicycle tourist to see.
As a former NYC resident (1980s), it's mind boggling to see what NYC has done to its streets and riverfronts. Clearly, NYC is a testament to what can be done with political will (Mayor Bloomberg), competent leadership in city government (NYCDOT Commissioner Sadik-Kahn) and an energized bicycling public. I'm anxious to have Philadelphia get its "legs" and do the same.


Ray Scheinfeld said...

Four of us went on the 9th of August as well: Jon Shinefeld, John Siemierowski, Scott, and myself. They came up for the day and met me at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in Manhatten. I had traveled the night before by Chinatown bus and stayed with relatives.

During our ride, we took the same route as Sarah and her husband and continued beyound the closed street segment into Central Park. Our experience was very similar and exhilirating. From there we traveled to 110th Street and headed to the West Side, eventually ending up on the Hudson Greenway and rode to the Cloisters at about 200th Street. Turning around and traveling to the south on the Greenway we went back to Battery Park and checked out the "waterfall" exhibit on the East River. Finally we went back to the Ferry and traveled to the Staten Island Museum where we were accorded free admission because we arrived on bikes. The museum has a nice exhibit on Human Powered Vehicles that took about 1 hour to view. Then off to a Ceylonese resturaunt and split back up, with Jon, John, and Scott heading back to Phila. I headed back to Manhatten to see a wonderful free play along the East River and another great meal. With the closed streets, I covered about 45 miles that day with only 10% on active open roads.

NYC is always a happening place and with the $20 Chinatown bus service (round trip)(bikes are free and the bus runs almost every 1/2 hour of the day) it is easily accessible for a cyclist. Combined with the great NYC bike maps (free at any bike shop)you can have a blast for only a small outlay of cash in as little as one day. Hope the trip on the 16th was as good as the 9th was for us.

Ray Scheinfeld

rozdincer said...

Great article. I wonder where you rent your bikes from. Central Park bike rental offers up to 30% discounts when reserving online. I love riding through Central Park, NYC.