Monday, June 30, 2008

Thunder and Lightning

The Triboro Bridge is frightening...

So, I went for a ride, and it didn't go well.

By the time I got to Randall's Island, I could see the storm clouds gathering.


Normally, I don't mind riding in the rain.
I don't actively seek it out, and if I'm commuting, I hate it. But on a warm summer day, at the end of a long ride, it can be kind of nice.
Not this time.

The pedestrian/bike path of the Triboro Bridge is a little daunting at the best of times. The construction annoys me. When it's windy, the barrier feels suspiciously low. And when you approach the metal-caged on-ramp and see lightening repeatedly hit the bridge, well then it's time to run away.


Thunder cracked directly overhead, the sky opened up, and I wondered if instead of a bike, I should have built an ark.


So, there I was... underneath the Triboro Bridge. In the rain.


For those of you who have never crossed the Triboro by bike or foot, it can be very confusing. The DOT provides this map, but I get confused all the time, so here's a simple explanation.

triboro path

There is no direct route for cyclists and pedestrians from Queens to Manhattan or the Bronx. Instead of following the traffic, the path drops you on Randall's Island from all directions.
You need to cross the island and find the correct span for the borough you are going to, making the bridge a two-step process.

I haven't actually taken the Manhattan entrance this year, so I can't vouch for it, but if the ramps are open, they're at 124/126th and Second Avenue. If not, the stairs are at 124/126th and First Avenue.
Alternately, there's the Ward's Island Bridge at 103rd Street and the FDR, which is for bicyclists and pedestrians only. Ward's Island connects to Randall's Island.

The Queens entrance is the stairs at 27th and Hoyt.

The Bronx entrance is the ramp structure at 133rd and Cypress.

Cyclists need to be very careful. The path is broken by steep stairs.
When you see the spray paint telling you to slow down - SLOW DOWN!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bike Path Shame


Today was a perfect day for a ride, and Brooklyn was the place to ride - as evidenced by the endless stream of cyclists pouring off the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Bloomberg Administration has worked hard at changing the perception of this city from that of one big traffic jam, to an environmentally and athletically friendly place.

They even took the time to put together a cycle-specific tour of the waterfalls, which judging by the crowds, a lot of bicyclists are taking advantage of.

How sad is it then that two of the major bike thoroughfares in Downtown Brooklyn/Brooklyn Heights, are perpetually unusable.
This scene is the norm for the Henry Street bike path, and the Adams Street bike path is even worse.


(That's a Prius on the end, by the way)

I have lots and lots of problems with the bike paths in NY, but one of them is NOT that they exist.

That after decades of struggle by cycling advocates, they exist to be used as parking for the First Presbyterian Church and the Marriott Hotel, - that is a problem.

Friday, June 27, 2008

As seen in...Blissville


I haven't seen one of these in a while, at least not in NYC.

I realize that I'm exposing my ignorance, but I never even knew there was a 'Blissville'.
(It's not called bike dummy because I'm a brain surgeon.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008



I did a little drive-by this morning on my way to work - and yes, the waterfalls are officially up and running.
The Pier 1 Park wasn't open yet - opens at 10 am today, but from what I could see, it looked ready to go.

I'm not really sure why I'm so fixated on these. Normally I don't have much patience with public art installations, but this one is working for me.
I hopped on my bike, took a detour down to the waterfront, and when I felt the spray blowing off the falls - I was happy.

It might just be that simple.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The 2008 NYC Century is coming

The 2008 NYC Century Bike Tour is upon us - and registration is open.

I had an amazing time doing this last year, but when I tried to find a good you tube video of the event to post, all I came up with were these long, music video, it was happiness and light, everyone had a great time and waved at the camera, videos.

This bears no resemblance to my finish line experience.
I was hot and miserable and everything hurt. By the time I got back to Central Park I never wanted to get back on my bike again.

So I'm posting this instead.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer Streets




For Three Saturdays in August, Route from Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park Will Open

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan today announced Summer Streets, a new City program that will temporarily open a 6.9 mile car-free route from the Brooklyn Bridge to 72nd Street. Featuring connections to Central Park and other open spaces, Summer Streets will give New Yorkers unprecedented access to the streets for exercise and exploration from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on three consecutive Saturdays in August, the 9th, 16th and 23rd.

"We anticipate that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and visitors will take advantage of streets temporarily opened for recreation," said Mayor Bloomberg. "We hope the Summer Streets experiment will become as much a part of the New York experience as strolling the Coney Island boardwalk, participating in the 5-borough bike tour, or listening to the Philharmonic in the park."

Copenhagen, Venice, Paris, Bogota, and Tokyo are just some of the cities that have had programs like this for decades. Not only are they socially and environmentally friendly, but they make shopping on a weekend semi-enjoyable again.
Forget biking. As a resident of NYC, at times I find myself falling into a pit of despair at the thought of walking through some of the more crowded shopping areas of the city - forget shopping in them.
For a brief and forgettable period I worked in the area between Herald and Times Squares, and just navigating the foot traffic on the sidewalks was enough to make me hate humanity.
I'm totally psyched for this. Not as a cyclist, it will probably be too crowded to cycle, but just as a New Yorker.
I can't wait to take a nice walk.

Pedestrian's Paradise
Pedestrian's Paradise,
originally uploaded by Stardog Champion.
"For the last 35 years, on Sundays and Holidays, Tokyo closes off the main streets in the Akihabara shopping district to car traffic, creating a foot-friendly mall. 'Hokosha Tengoku' - translates roughly to 'Pedestrian Paradise'"

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Urban Hieroglyphics

What do cyclists, and surveyors have in common?
We spend a lot of time looking down at things that other people ignore.



This a small selection of the thousands of enigmatic symbols one finds spray painted onto the streets of New York.
The blue double arrows on the right appeared all over the place just last week.
I never actually noticed any of these until I rode in last year's NYC Century, when, about a week before the ride, these started showing up.


I have come to realize that they mark the roads for everything.
I was just never looking for it.

So, a few days ago, I started seeing these as well -


I don't know about you, but I thought they were freakin' brilliant.
What do you think of when you see this blue glyph?
I think waterfall.
And what do you think of when you think of waterfalls in New York City?

IMG_3163Well, unless you've been living under a rock, you think of Olafur Eliasson's NYC Waterfall Public Art Installation which is due to open in less than a week.

They've been building the scaffolds in four locations around Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan for the last few months, and they've been testing the falls for the last few days.

There's a festival, a temporary park at Pier 1 next to the Brooklyn Bridge, and major goings on all along the waterfront in Dumbo.

The DOT has even put together a plan for a bike tour of the falls - which leads me back to the mystery glyphs that are appearing all over the place.
Just follow the blue arrows for a pre-planned tour of the official waterfall viewing locations.


download the map from the NYC DOT

Friday, June 20, 2008

As seen in...Fort Tilden


I took a wrong turn at the corner of the Atlantic Ocean and ended up in Fort Tilden.
Corey Kilgannon for The New York Times wrote about Fort Tilden like this:

"TO reach the beach at Fort Tilden, keep the missile silos on your right, the munitions buildings on your left, and head due south of the cannon batteries.

Remember this, because there are no signs to point the way, no scents of sunscreen, lifeguard’s whistles nor flying Frisbees; just these military landmarks, the briny breeze and the roar of the surf.

It is not for everyone. It can be a bit of a hike to the water, and there are no lifeguards. Visitors, in fact, are warned not to swim, because of the dangerous tides. There are no convenient bathrooms, snack bars or other amenities.

The fort, built in 1917 as part of the city’s coastal defenses, was used through two world wars and part of the cold war to keep the enemy — German subs, Japanese bombers or Russian nukes — from reaching New York.

For the explorer, the treasures of Tilden truly unfold. The more you wander the underused pathways of the park’s 317 acres, the more bizarre the place gets.
At Tilden you can do bombs and barracks, or beach blanket bingo. Or both."


Beyond the parking lot, a maze of empty back roads winds its way through the beach grass and wild roses. The road surface is fairly smooth, the sea breeze is cooling - and there is absolutely no one around.
From what I've gathered, the beach at Fort Tilden is used primarily by surf cast fisherman who purchase a permit from the Parks Department which allows them to park somewhat near the water.
For everyone else, it's a hike - or take a bike.



Personally, I suggest a bike. But that's just me.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Telectroscope

Hullo London. URaQT :)


This steampunk art project proves that it isn't new technology that makes modern communication shallow, it's us.
And you know what? I couldn't care less.


This fabulous thing is the 'telectroscope' and it lived at the Walt Whitman Pier in Brooklyn for the past month. (Sorry, this post fell victim to my flickr debacle, so the installation closed this Sunday)

The brainchild of British artist Paul St. George, there is a whole backstory to this project which can be found at tiscali telectroscope


The short version is that he asks us to imagine that there is a transatlantic tunnel connecting London to New York that has remained undisturbed for a hundred years awaiting the installation of a nineteenth century communication device known as a 'telectroscope'.

Sound familiar?

For those of you who don't know, Brooklyn is home to the oldest Subway tunnel in the world, which was actually 'lost' and remained undisturbed for more than a hundred years until it was rediscovered in 1981. Atlantic Avenue Tunnel

It's pretty amazing. You go down through a manhole cover in the middle of Atlantic Avenue into this perfectly preserved abandoned space.
Go. Do it.



Back to the telectroscope...


Considering how cool the thing itself is, the majority of people looking at each other through it are remarkable only for their unremarkableness. The telectro - helpers have whiteboards on which to write messages, most of which say things like "Hi", "You're Cute!" or "How's the weather?"
On the London end, even the Queen joined in the fun to look through the simulated 'viewer' and wave randomly to passing New Yorkers.
I wonder what she wrote on her whiteboard?
(Photo of the Queen by Matthew Andrews)


Why did I like the telectroscope?
Well somewhere in London there's a couple that wrote this message to me...

"Nice Bike"

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Storm Left Everywhere a Little Less Green


So, I came across this article in The NYTimes -
Storm Left Central Park a Little Less Green

"It would be a sad census in any case, but the tally of trees lost in
Central Park to high winds during last Wednesday’s storm comes
with particular ill grace in the middle of the Million Trees NYC campaign.

“You felt it was like a tornado,” said Douglas Blonsky, president of
the Central Park Conservancy and the administrator of Central Park.

According to the conservancy’s survey, 33 trees were significantly
damaged, 24 of which have already been removed."

I know Central Park is a big deal. But I've heard no mention of the damage that was done to old growth trees all around the NYC area. I was out in that storm, and I was clicking my heels together and screaming "There's no place like home" along with everybody else.

I took the top picture from the bike path off the Henry Hudson Parkway, looking down toward the river. I'm not sure if this is technically part of Fort Tryon Park, but I don't imagine those trees fared much better.

I was dismayed by the sight of so many damaged trees while I was riding, but not as dismayed as I was when I discovered that I would have to portage my bike up and over the felled tree blocking the base of the stairs down to Dykman Street.


That is one big ass tree.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Flickr... Not so free


"You've run into one of the limits of a free account. Your free account will only display the most recent 200 things you've uploaded.
Anything beyond 200 will remain hidden from view until you either delete newer items, or upgrade to a Pro account.

Nothing has been deleted, and if you upgrade, they'll all come back unharmed."

I know I'm the only person who didn't realize this, but I naively thought that the monthly upload restriction WAS the limit for my flickr account. Imagine my chagrin when I saw the words 'one of the limits' and realized that there could be quite a few more that I hadn't ever bothered to learn.
So, in honor of my newly christened (ie 'paid for') flickr pro account, here are a couple of photos that have nothing to do with anything other than I was on a bike when I took them.







Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Brooklyn Cobbles

Or, why George Hincapie should come train in Brooklyn for next year's Paris Roubaix.


Went for a spin the other day and decided to swing over to see how long it will be before Ikea opens down in Red Hook and we are inundated with all the extra traffic.
It's amazing how quickly you can build something when you really want to - they are almost done with the landscaping, so I'd say it will be open any day now.

I know they say there won't be traffic problems because this Ikea is accessible by mass transit, but first; the closest subway stop is at least 15 blocks away, and second, who actually wants to carry furniture home on the subway?


I'm hoping this Red Hook landmark survives, but chances are if you never went to this bar when this was the ass-end of Red Hook, you won't be going now.

The single most glaring change (other than the giant yellow and blue box store that takes up the entire pier) is that they've repaved the street leading around to the parking lot. Gone are the famous cobbles, replaced by vehicle friendly asphalt.

Cobbles and trolley tracks are some of the more picturesque remnants of old NY that still linger in Brooklyn, and most of the outer boroughs. In the last 20 years, Manhattan has been stripped of much of it's physical history in the name of progress and I've been saddened to see it erased. I still remember the hollow, glass block sidewalks that lined SOHO and the blue slate streets of the west Village.

Lucky for us Brooklynites, not only do we have a lovely assortment of cobbles and trolley tracks that wend their way through DUMBO and Red Hook, but for those looking for the real deal, we've got Industry City.

Industry City is the name for the four million square feet in 10 industrial buildings between 37th and 32d Streets just off the Gowanus Expressway. It's desolate, dusty, and absolute hell on wheels - for those of us on two wheels.


I found an interview where George Hincapie talks about his training regimen and the fact that he sometimes has problems training for the spring classics because of snow.

Well, I say 'Come on over to Brooklyn George! We've got plenty of cobbles, and almost no snow."