Utility Cycling

Prior to embarking on my greenway commuting adventures, I never thought of riding a bike as a useful method of transportation.  It was always just a tool to be used for pleasure, for joy rides on the weekends, essentially just a toy.  After commuting by bike for a while, I thought to myself, “where else can I go by bike more conveniently than by car, transit, or on foot?”

Parked on Riverdale Avenue locked to one of our spiffy new NYC bike racks

Parked on Riverdale Avenue locked to one of our spiffy new NYC bike racks

I started out making some local trips by bike.  On one Sunday, when I needed to get a haircut and decided to go to my local barber shop only 5 blocks away, I decided to go by bike instead of walking.  While I only saved about 5 minutes by taking the bike instead of walking, I still felt the trip was far more pleasurable this way.

On a subsequent Sunday, we decided to make a family trip to the Riverdale Y for a “super play date.”  While my wife and daughter took the bus, I rode alongside them in my bike.  I waited with them at the bus stop and we arrived at roughly the same time, but had I decided to leave immediately there’s no doubt the bike would be faster.

The ultimate utility cycling adventure, though, was for a trip to renew my Israeli Passport at the Consulate on the Far East Side of Midtown.  I took advantage of a rare day off from work when the Consulate was open to ride from home down to Second Ave and 43rd St.  I crossed the Upper West Side at 72nd St, rode through Central Park down to the park’s Southeast corner, then rode across midtown to the 2nd Ave bike lane, and down to 43rd.

Upon arriving, a group of cops and security guards quickly descended upon me and my bike to pronounce that I could not park my bike within one block of the Consulate.  “But I’m here to visit the Consulate,” I protested, “and it’s just a bike.”  Nope, sorry, no exceptions.  Oh well, a stroll around the corner revealed a decent (if somewhat secluded and hence less safe) parking spot.  I slipped on some “normal” clothes over my cycling clothes, and on I went.  The rest of the visit and the ride home were uneventful, but at least I was confident that I had used my bike to get me somewhere new faster, cheaper, and more enjoyably than the alternatives.

Since then, I’ve ridden my bike to a pre-school tour for my daughter, real estate open houses, doctor’s visits, and more.  For anyone who lives within 10 miles of Manhattan and is in good health, I guarantee you that cycling is the most efficient way to get around the City.

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