Biking down Broadway: socializing on two wheelsJuly 5th, 2012 at 9:15 pm ET
Not for the first time, I biked home from the Upper West Side today down Broadway, this time from 96th Street (via Columbus Avenue to Broadway in the West 60s) all the way down to Fulton Street. That’s about 7 miles, and thanks to the smart policymaking of the New York City Department of Transportation, most of the route was via protected bike path or separated bike lane.
In particular, the mostly-separated bike lane is continuous from Columbus Circle (at 59th Street) to Union Square (at 14th), passing through or around some of NYC’s primmest real estate, including the Times Square megaplex, the Greeley Square/Herald Square agglomeration, the Madison Square/Flatiron conurbation, and Downtown Union Square.
In all four of these areas, and through some of the stretch in between, ginormous swaths of land have been given over to pedestrians, and those ginormous swaths are, for the most part, densely occupied by people. Once you get used to the fact that you’re dodging people and not cars, it’s actually more fun to ride through these pedestrianized zones than it is to battle car traffic. You’re reminded that transportation in the public sphere is a social act, and that saying “excuse me” and “thank you” (and, occasionally, “oops, sorry”) to people on foot is one of the things that makes biking more interesting than driving.
The first couple of times I rode through Greeley Square and especially Times Square, I was frustrated by the people walking in the bike lane. But you know what? People are what the city is for. I have a bell and a mouth; I use them both (politely). I have brakes; I use them to slow down to a more human speed. And I enjoy the fact that, on a sunny evening, thousands and thousands of people are out in the street doing nothing in particular. What’s it going to take me, four and a half minutes longer to go all the way downtown?ShareThis