For nearly the past year, I’ve been commuting to work by bicycle.
I’ve always enjoyed cycling. When my wife and I lived in Skokie, IL, we rented bicycles on one of our first trips to downtown Chicago. We started riding along the lake shore greenway, enjoying the scenery, occasionally pausing to sit on the sandy beaches and enjoy the breeze coming in off the lake.
After a while, we got to the end of the bike path, near the northern edge of Chicago, and we realized, “you know what, we’re not that far from home.” And so we continued riding the rest of the way home.
Eventually we bought bikes, and we did a fair amount of riding on weekends. We did Chicago’s famous and very popular “Bike the Drive”, we explored the ample bike paths around Skokie and Evanston, we biked to the Chicago Botanical Garden (not actually located in Chicago), and one time we made it all the way up to Wisconsin, nearly all on off-street bike paths, though passing through a few unsavory neighborhoods.
While I did constantly think about commuting to work, I never quite got around to actually doing it. In retrospect, this seems silly, since it is only 12 miles, mostly on off-street paths and almost completely flat, and I could easily have done it in under an hour. But with no showers at work, cheap garage parking available at work, a driveway at home, and a largely “reverse” commute that rarely took more than a half hour, it seemed the disadvantages outweighed the advantages.
After we moved to NJ, all cycling pretty much stopped for a while. I did try to venture out a few times, but with no off-street bike paths in the area I did not find the effort pleasant or worthwhile. For various reasons, though, NJ was not for us, so we moved to NYC, specifically Riverdale in the Bronx.
At first, having driven to work for all of the last 4 years, I drove from Riverdale as well. With stop-and-go bumper-to-bumper traffic the whole way, it was not fun, but living in Riverdale and working in NJ I did not think I had a choice. The dominant transit alternative is an express bus, which would take the same roads I can take in a car, but makes stops on the way, to the PATH. The transit option took a minimum of an hour and a half door-to-door, and that’s when I didn’t miss the bus, which comes only every half hour and rarely on schedule.
One day a colleague in the office next to mine showed up to work with a folding bike. “But you live in Brooklyn,” I said, “how did you get across the Hudson?” Answer: the NY Waterway ferry from the Wold Financial Center stops right in front of our office building. What a revelation! I don’t have to bike across the Hudson and all through NJ’s horrible and cycling-unfriendly roads! I can ride through NYC parks down the Hudson River Greenway and take a ferry across! And they allow bikes, including non-folding bikes, at all times, including rush hour!
The next Sunday I checked out the route from my home to the 39th Street ferry terminal. Not bad. So I kept going, and eventually made to the WFC ferry terminal before turning around and going home.
“This is great,” I thought, “just what I’ve been looking for.” The commute by bike was much more pleasant than a car, faster than transit, included health benefits (I had gained a few pounds living in NJ, as you can tell from the pics), and even included a rewarding ferry ride down the Hudson with beautiful views of the Manhattan and JC/Hoboken skylines.
So I started suiting up for a new commute.
And after a brief ferry ride…
I parked my bike in front of my office and headed off for work (after a quick shower and change of clothes in the gym locker room).
Now I ride to work every day. This blog will chronicle some of my adventures and experiences encountered along my daily greenway commute.