One of the advantages of cycling over driving is the ability to see what’s going on around you. Every day on my commute, there’s a few memorable people I see again and again. Certainly regular transit riders will be familiar with this experience, but for me it’s somewhat of a new experience. Here’s just a few of the interesting characters I pass while cycling down the Hudson River Greenway.
Blown-back Jogger Lady
I see this woman, an older lady that looks to be about 60 but could be much older, nearly every morning now. She took a break from some point in November until mid-April, but now she’s back, jogging every day. I’m sure there are plenty of other joggers out there every day at the exact same time as me, but what distinguishes her is her running style. At every moment, she looks as if she’s about to be blown backwards by the wind. With her hands up by her shoulders, she jogs very slowly while chewing gum, yet with a face that would be more appropriate to someone exerting herself to run at about 5 times her pace.
The Running Cyclist
Another character I see about half of my mornings these days is the running cyclist. Runners are a common sight. Cyclists are also a common sight, but to see someone running alongside their bike (which seems to be in fine working order by all appearances) is a bit unusual. A few times I saw this guy riding the bike, and when he does he rides quite erratically, so when I saw him off the bike pushing it, I figured he must have fallen and damaged it somehow. Yet there he was again a few days later, pushing the bike. Since then, I’ve probably passed him a few dozen times, and at least half those times he was pushing the bike.
Mayor of the Greenway
One guy absolutely wins the prize for sheer tenacity. Every single morning, he is there, walking down the Greenway, in the exact same tattered jeans and tattered jacket (he also has a tattered coat he wears over the tattered jacket in the winter, no word yet on whether he takes off the jacket when it gets very hot in the summer). Each day, no matter what time I leave (which can vary by up to an hour and a half), I pass him at some point along the way. Perhaps he is homeless, or perhaps he just doesn’t have a job and prefers to spend his day taking in the beautiful scenery, or perhaps he just wants the exercise (though he walks very slowly). But in recognition of his long-standing all-weather commitment, I nominate him “mayor” of the Hudson River Greenway.
The Winter Cyclist
Now that it’s warm again, there are so many new people out there every day. Most of them are not quite as memorable as those on this list, but I still recognize quite a few of the same people every day. What distinguishes this guy is his appearance as soon as the weather got cold, his perseverance throughout the entire winter, and his sudden disappearance as soon as it got warm again. On so many days, he was the only other cyclist I saw on my route, or the only one for a few miles. Every day I’d see him with his furry hat with red ear covers under his helmet and smile. Yet now, he’s gone.
Goldman Sachs Bike+Ferry Commuter
I see plenty of other people cycling down the Greenway the same way as me, and plenty of people taking the same ferry with me, some with bikes, but only one other commuter comes down the Greenway at about the same time as me, gets on the same ferry, then gets back on that ferry to go home at the same time as me in the afternoon. I’m not sure where she works, but given that she turns left when she gets off in Paulus Hook and the only building that way is the Goldman Sachs building, I’ve taken to calling her the Goldman Sachs bike+ferry commuter. Unlike everyone else on this list, I’ve even spoken to her on a few occasions. When I first started commuting, I asked her if she thought it was safe to leave her bike behind in the City. She said she never had any issues, but her bike is old and beat up. Sure enough, my bike was stolen after a few weeks from the pier in Manhattan, so now I take my new bike on the ferry with me every day and lock it up at work (using 3 heavy duty locks left overnight). One time I lost a glove and was looking around for it and she came up to ask if I had lost my light and needed to borrow one.
There’s plenty more people I see and recognize every day, but most are just your typical jogger, cyclist, or nanny pushing a stroller. In a future post, I’ll present my taxonomy of Greenway users.