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.


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