Thursday, July 31, 2008

No Crossing the Cross Bay Bridge


Don't try to cross the Cross Bay Bridge on a bike.

The pedestrian and bike path is closed for repairs until at least October, which is a bummer - I like doing the loop around Jamaica Bay.


Luckily, there is a shuttle bus that will take you and your bike across the bridge.
Luckier even if you happen to run into one of the local cyclists who has the driver's number on speed dial to make sure you don't have to wait forever.
I have no idea what the wait time is normally - due to my exalted company it was only about 15 minutes.


Still, it's a bit weird to end up crammed on a passenger van half way through a ride.
By the time I get that far down, I'm usually a pretty ripe and the poor guy sitting next to me and the nice clean couple on a date certainly wished that I had chosen a different route.

In the end, you can get across - I'd just recommend sticking to the Marine Parkway Bridge for now.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


My trip down to the Rockaways was more exciting than it normally is.
I fell in a pothole, I forgot my map, and I met Dash.

Dash was laying on the ground panting from the heat when I came upon him and his owner about 500 yards from the Canarsie Pier.
The guy wasn't that far from the entrance (and the water fountain) but I figured, hey, I've got wheels and he's got a hundred pounds of dead weight, so I shared some of my bottle with Dash.


Instant Dog! Just Add Water...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Deja Vu All Over Again

I was riding on the Belt Parkway Bike Path down near Canarsie when I saw this...


I was vaguely mystified until about 10 feet later I ran over these...


Then I remembered.

Last year during the NYC Century, I saw exactly the same warning in exactly the same place and did exactly the same thing.
You'd think I might have figured it out by now - SLOW BUMPS means -

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tearin' Up The Town


I finally met the guys who rip up the street.
Usually I just end up turning onto streets that have been torn up to await a new surface, but today I ran right smack into the middle of it.
It turns out this process is called 'milling' and it's done by contracted workers who when asked know nothing about when the street will once again have a surface that doesn't slice up my tires.
They just do the ripping up.


Lucky for me, I've discovered the many and varied uses for two great inventions; the 'innanet' and 311.

Turns out, the DOT actually posts a schedule of the upcoming work - both 'milling' and fixing in the 'Weekly Resurfacing Schedule'.
I will probably never check this again, but it's nice to know you could figure out what streets were a mess before riding on them. (This requires far more advance thought than I've ever been willing to apply, but it's better than the "Whatever, fugghettaboutit" answer I got this morning.)


2 Paving Crews
11th Ave (New Utrecht to 61st St)
46th St (11th Ave to New Utrecht Ave)
Navy St (Hudson Ave to Nassau St)
York St (Jay St to Navy St)
2 Milling Crews
Senator St (Colonial Rd to 6th Ave)
E 7th St (Reeve Pl to Quentin Rd)
Contract Milling
State St (Columbia Pl to Flatbush Ave)


2 Paving Crews
11th Ave (New Utrecht to 61st St)
Navy St (Hudson Ave to Nassau St)
York St (Jay St to Navy St)
2 Milling Crews
72nd St (5th Ave to 12th Ave)
E 7th St (Reeve Pl to Quentin Rd)
Contract Milling
State St (Columbia Pl to Flatbush Ave)


2 Paving Crews
11th Ave (New Utrecht to 61st St)
Navy St (Hudson Ave to Nassau St)
York St (Jay St to Navy St)
Middagh St (BQE to Fulton St)
Willow St (BQE to Pierrepont St)
Monroe Pl (Clark St to Pierrepont)
2 Milling Crews
72nd St (5th Ave to 12th Ave)
E 7th Ave (Reeve Pl to Quentin Rd)
Contract Milling
State St (Columbia Pl to Flatbush Ave)

Schedules are subject to change due to inclement weather or emergencies. For updated information call (311) Monday to Friday, 7 am to 7 pm.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tour de France 2008

I know I shouldn't be surprised.

I wasn't going to write anything more about the tour this year.
Poor Cadel Evans doesn't need yet another person bemoaning his lack of personality as a cyclist.

Riccardo Ricco was my shining star of this year's tour. His kind of riding is why I watch the tour to begin with - attacking, dynamic and spectacular.
There was a great live quote from Christian Vande Velde where he described one of the stages following Ricco and Saunier Duval as 'balls to the wall'. (You won't be seeing that in the 'expanded 8pm coverage' on Versus.)

Like his hero, Marco Pantani, he was full of big talk and big results.
And like his hero, now he's gone down in flames.

I'm sad.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Biking to Roosevelt Island

Less Hate, More Love Part III


In celebration of one full week since my commuter bike was stolen (and my inability to get over it and just replace it) I'm posting another of my favorite local rides - across the bridge to Roosevelt Island.

View from the Southern tip of Roosevelt Island

The very fact that Roosevelt Island exists is a little strange. A product of the Urban Development Corporation, it was supposed to be a suburban, car-free utopia in the center of NYC.
Over the years, I've known a number of people who've lived there, and they all did enjoy it to a certain extent.

The thing I enjoy most about it are the spectacular views and the fact that you can be completely and totally alone.
Past the ruin of the old smallpox hospital (BikeDummy, Sept. 2007) all the way at the tip of the island, is a spot to view the complete panorama of the East River - from the United Nations to LIC.
And it's almost always empty.

The United Nations to the West

Long Island City to the East

To get to Roosevelt Island by Bicycle - either take the tram from 60th street in Manhattan, or bike across the bridge at Vernon Blvd and 36th Avenue in Queens.
The surface of the bridge is metal grating so I wouldn't ride across it unless you've got a mountain bike. It's also currently under construction, so on windy days the dust is really awful.
The path is very narrow and is used by pedestrians as well, so you may need to dismount and walk your bike.
Once across, just follow the roads. The island is a closed loop so it's not like you can get lost.


If you're in the area - drop by the Socrates Sculpture Park or the Isamu Noguchi Museum for a bit of culture.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ice Cream and Dirt


Reasons to love cycling on a sunny summer day.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Welcome to NYC, Your New Tropical Destination

I thought I was doing the Macarena. I swear I didn't know it was a rain dance.


I only lasted two bikeless days before breaking out the trusty Centurion to bike to work.
Now, I would NEVER leave this bike on the street. Not that it's worth very much, but I would cry me a river if it got stolen, and as we all know, in NYC, if you leave it on the street, sooner or later it will get stolen.
Like I said, this is the first bike I've ever had long enough to have to do maintenance on.
The rest were all stripped, clipped or mauled.
The last time I rode my road bike, I got caught underneath the Triboro in an end of the world kind of deluge, so today when I opened the front door of the office and saw a bunch of people starting to huddle out of the rain, I figured I could wait a while before heading home.
I made some calls, I did some work, I looked out the window, and the rain had stopped.
I made it three blocks before it started raining again.
I went from dry to irretrievably soaked to blindly hydroplaning in less than a block.
You know how sometimes when you are riding past the cabs stuck in rush hour traffic and the sweat-stained huddled masses stumbling out of subway stops, you just feel smarter than everyone else?
Maybe I'm being punished for hubris.
Do you think if I did penance the bicycle gods would let up a little?
I know, I could buy that hot pink mountain bike someone is trying to sell on craigslist for $500.
Riding that in public must certainly be punishment enough.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Manhattan Bridge Bike Path

Less Hate, More Love Part II


Most Brooklyn cyclists will tell you that if you really want to get from borough to borough, the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges are the way to go.

The Manhattan Bridge has been under renovation for so many years that I forgot there were two pathways until they re-opened the North side last year. It now boasts one of the few bicycle only bridge crossings in the city - ramps on either end, east/west bike lanes, and best of all, pedestrians have a path all to themselves on the other side.


On the Manhattan side, the bike path entrance is at Chrystie Street on the left hand (North) side when facing the bridge from Canal Street.
If you are heading south on Bowery or east on Canal, you are 'supposed' to follow the signs down Grand to Allen and back around to the other side of Canal which confusingly enough goes west back to the entrance of the ramp. Very few people bother. Add to this pedestrians filling what is supposed to be the path leading to the ramp and you get a general cluster*@*%.

This decorative arch is NOT the entrance. If you are facing this, go to your left.


The Brooklyn entrance to the path is a lovely new ramp at Jay and Sands Streets.
The approach to this is also crazy if you aren't used to riding in traffic - and hard to find if you don't know exactly where it is.


The stairs to the pedestrian path are on the Jay Street side and the ramp is on the Sands Street side.
Yes, you are actually supposed to be biking on the sidewalk.
They apparently didn't want cyclists coming off the ramp directly onto the BQE entrance ramp (I agree), so you need to be on the sidewalk under the overpass in order to get onto the bridge.


I find that some of the stupider bike paths in NYC are in this area, so I ignore them and just try to keep myself safe.
The intersection of Jay and Sands is right in the middle of the traffic pattern leading from the BQE to both the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, so you need to be alert, but if you are coming from Downtown Brooklyn the Adams Street approach (AKA Brooklyn Bridge Blvd) is completely empty of car traffic.


I love biking across this bridge.
It's both quick and painless to ride across, and lovely and awe inspiring to see.
The only down side to the bikes only path?
The view from the pedestrian side is pretty freaking amazing.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Brooklyn Bridge Bike Path

Less Hate, More Love

People look at me like I'm a maniac when I tell them that I cycle in NYC.
They assume that I'm either a misguided tree-hugger, an out-of-work college student, or chronically suicidal.
Well, I'm none of those things.
I don't do it for the environment, I don't do it because of the economy, and I certainly don't do it for the exercise.
I do it because it's super-fun.

Sometimes that's hard to remember and I get caught up in the negatives - like bad roads, and crazy drivers, and angry pedestrians, and bus exhaust, and no place to park, and leaving work to find your bike stolen.

In an attempt to remind myself of why I love biking in NYC, I've decided to post some of my favorite rides - and because bike dummy is about discovering things that everyone else seems to know - I'm going to start with:

The Pedestrian and Bike Path of the Brooklyn Bridge:


The Manhattan entrance is easy to find, but hard to get to if you aren't used to riding in traffic.
It is directly across from City Hall at Park Row and Centre Streets.
The safest thing to do if you are nervous is dismount and walk from the corner of Centre and Chambers Streets to the pedestrian entrance.

The pathway across the bridge is separated into two distinct lanes; the southern lane (on the right if you are coming from Manhattan) is for pedestrians, the northern lane for cyclists. These are clearly marked with icons, but are largely ignored by tourists who don't know any better. It can get very crowded on the bridge and you need to watch for pedestrians randomly stepping out in front of you.

The Brooklyn side has two access points.
The stairs under the overpass at Cadman Plaza East and Prospect Streets, or the ramp at Tillary and Adams Streets.
The city recently added much needed signs and lighting to the Cadman Plaza Stairway entrance that is heavily used by pedestrians. It is under the overpass at the East side of Cadman Plaza Park. From Dumbo, Washington Street will lead you directly to it.

The access ramp to the Brooklyn Bridge at Tillary and Adams Streets is the easiest way onto the bridge with a bike. (I hate having to dismount and carry my bike)


Last year, they added a two-way protected bike lane on Tillary Street to facilitate access to the bridge ramp entrance from the Downtown and Heights neighborhoods which has made getting on and off the bridge easier for beginning riders who aren't used to merging in and out of traffic.


The Adams Street bike path is still basically unusable due to the fact that the Brooklyn Marriott allows livery cab drivers to park all along the length in front of the hotel, I prefer Clinton Street if I'm coming from Cobble Hill.

The Brooklyn Bridge Bike Path was one of the first joys of cycling in the city for me.
Even if you don't have a bicycle and the thought of hoards of tourists makes you cringe, you should try it once.
There's a reason people travel from all over the world to see the view.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Thanks for Stealing my Bike


Super Crappy Bike to replace the Super Crappy Bike that was stolen from me last night.

Would $10 cover whatever costs you incurred clipping my lock?

It certainly won't cover the cost of replacing that lock.

Let's make a deal. Once a month why don't you just come by where I work, I'll give you twenty bucks and you leave me my bicycle so that I can get home.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Vive La Tour

I love the Tour de France for the same reason I love lots of sports.
The thrill of victory! The agony of defeat! The rivalries, the scandals, the awesome athletic achievement!
But mostly, I love watching the Tour because I love the live commentary.
I think Paul Sherwin, Bob Roll and Phil Liggett make the best team in sports. (Thank goodness they finally ditched Al Trautwig)
Bobke is the most colorful - "It'll be a virtual schmegelfest of subhumanoids.", Sherwin is the set up man - "the peleton is nervous today, trying to avoid the fracas at the rear"

But personally, I love Phil Liggett.

Examples of "Liggettisms" (add you own South African accent):

* The first pedal has been turned in anger!
* He's dancing on his pedals in a most immodest way!
* He's wearing the mask of pain.
* He's crazy. He's always been crazy. And what on EARTH is he doing?
* This is a pedigree group of men, they are holding on by the skin of their shorts.
* Now if I were an Olympic cycling judge—which as it happens I am—I'd say that was all right.
* He's really having to dig deeply into the suitcase of courage.
* With this attack the chicken skin is about to fall.
* These boys are descending like stones.
* The yellow jersey makes you ride like two men.
* He's riding like he has four legs.

Vive le Liggett! Juillet Bienvenu!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Washington Street Cobbles


Cobbles are a (literal) pain in the ass when you're on a bike.

I've been using the asphalt patches on Washington Street to hopscotch my way along this block for the last couple of months, but it's nice to see the stones get replaced rather than the whole street get asphalted over.

I'm not a fan of the strip-mall look that NYC has acquired over the last decade.
It would be great to keep the last few cobbled streets from going the way of the dinosaur.
Broome, Mercer, Peck Slip, Washington ... even bumping along on my butt, I love these streets.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Watch For Cyclists


This is my new favorite sign.

The bicycle exit ramp off the Manhattan Bridge is so confusing and dangerous that the city just put this gigantic construction sign up at the intersection of Canal and Bowery to warn car traffic coming off the bridge to 'watch for cyclists'.
I'm not sure that it's working quite the way they thought it would.
I'm still getting honked at, cut off and sped by.
Maybe the sign should blink between "Watch For Cyclists" and "Then Don't Hit Them."

but hey ...

It's the thought that counts, right?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

You can't get there from here

Lost in the Bronx ... again.


So I tried to bike to City Island the other day.
And I should know better.
It's not that I don't know where City Island is. It's a lovely gem of a neighborhood located off the Long Island Sound in the Bronx.

I've just never biked there.

And when I've never biked somewhere, I break out the trusty NYC cycling map, follow the marked paths, and never make it where I'm going on the first try.
You might be wondering if my bike dummyness extends to an inability to read maps. Well, let me assure you that it does not.
I am convinced that the official NYC cycling map was drawn by someone who hates cyclists and wants to kill us all - and I think the same person is now in charge of planning all the new bike lanes (but that's a whole other essay).

I've done a bit of riding in the Bronx. It's a lovely borough.
According to the bike map, there is an unbroken greenway leading from Van Cortland park, through the New York Botanical Garden, down along Pelham Parkway North, and across to City Island.

I had some stuff to do, so I headed up the West Side, across the University Heights Bridge, and down Fordham road towards the Zoo. I've biked this before, so I didn't let the traffic and buses get me down. It's horrible, but I was headed for a nice secluded pathway, so who cared.
I hit the park, made a left and tried to find the connection to the path coming down from Van Cortland Park. - Remember, all the roads I've been on so far are recommended bike routes - and I'd only almost died five or six times, not too bad.
I followed my map, but found no sign of the mystery bike path through the Botanical Garden. I even asked the security guard, who kindly informed me that not only were bikes not allowed, he had never heard of a path nearby.
I tried on my own and ended up - I kid you not - ON THE MOSHOLU PARKWAY.
My fault. Just check the map. It's patently obvious that you should be in the oncoming traffic lane in order to find the entrance to the path. (irony intended)


By the time I got around to Pelham Parkway and discovered how nasty the road surface is, I was ready to head back to Brooklyn.

And then my adventure really started.

I ended up on crappy ass streets, going up and down hills, struggling with bike lanes that go nowhere, stop suddenly, don't exist, or magically enough - end on the Bruckner Expressway.


By the way, thanks for the sign. Maybe it would have been more helpful at the intersection before this so I could have gotten off this one way street.

I was tired, hot, and in the process of discovering that spray-on sunblock does not work as well as the greasy, goopy kind when I made a wrong turn on Randall's Island.
(See my post about fear of lightening.)

So I lived through the storm.
I made it back to Brooklyn.
I was pondering the insanity of some of the bike lanes I was being asked to ride in, when heading up Sands Street (recommended bike path), my rear wheel dropped into a pothole and I felt the tire blow.

Just to add insult to injury, by the time I made home - it was raining again.