Commuting in NYC .... Thursday, February 25, 2005
by Diane Goodwin
"Real" commuting by bicycle started when I recently moved to Englewood, New Jersey. I work in SoHo and my former "commute" was 4.5 miles one way. The subway and cabs were too easy to take.

Living across from George Washington Bridge (GWB), I first tried driving. It was a disaster everyday - especially Friday nights. Leaving the City meant 2 hours from Houston Street to GWB. In the mornings, I might get through the bridge toll via Palisades Parkway, no problem, but there was always a backup on the ramp, bridge or West Side Highway. Eventually, I started seeing Sammy from Gotham Bikes riding and he actually was faster than me and my car!

The NJ Transit bus is great but it drops you at GWB terminal and the subway train "A Express" is in the same building - dropping me in front of my building - closer than before. Well, not so good ... there's one transfer. Unfortunately, I kept forgetting to check the bus schedule going home ending up almost having to wait 1.5 hours to cross GWB and land on my corner.

Each time I commuting by car or public transportation I kept comparing my 1 hour bike commute. Eventually, with the help of my friend Bill Montgomery, who rode from Midtown to my house to ride with me to work, I became use to the commute. It's not so difficult to get going anymore - even the Palisade Ave 1 mile climb doesn't bother me. Yes, I have this lovely climb within .2 mile in the beginning. I love when I beat cars to the top who are waiting in traffic.

Riding in inclement weather is what I have to deal with an this is why I chose to ride Thursday - even with the threat of a snow storm. Living so close to the City, I have transportation options. I can even leave my bike at the office if I choose. I rather not.

Thursday's Commute:

The morning was fine. I wanted the Litespeed because of the Schmidt hub but chose the Cannondale with new fenders and fatter tires.

At Houston St and West Side Highway, I chose to change lens under a building. I broke the frames - no glasses. It was already snowing and 5:45 p.m. Toga Bike Shop was 4 miles away and I'd ride without glasses up the West Side Bike path (WSBP). At times I needed to put my head down, close my eyes. The stinging was unbearable. Snow was sticking but I looked over at the highway and road was clear - an option. I kept on the path closing my eyes - no one had glasses. Those people didn't have the head wind.

I made it to Toga and bought the Lance Armstrong glasses. They worked. I stayed too long and suffered with lots of snow. I was afraid of the traffic - maybe someone would slip and crash me.

I turned up 72nd Street heading to Riverside Drive North. I usually am on the bike path but it made sense to ride on clear streets. I was fine all the way up to 165th St. In Washington Heights, I saw the snow sticking and the thought of the bridge and Hudson Terrace stuck in my mind.

Now I decided to take some photos.

At the GWB ramp, it was clear but I walked all the way up. Eventually, the path instantly turned to snow covered. I saw tracks fading of a previous cyclist. I rode slowly and made it. Stopped to take a photo of my bike and shoes.

Hudson Terrace is NOT New York City. It started fine but when a car passed without me hearing it, I knew there was way too much snow. I kept as close to the right side as possible. Cars were fine - no quick moves. I was scared but not as scared as I was on Palisade's descent. I was sliding around crossing 9W - got a honk by a jerk-off SUV who turned one block ahead into a store! I wanted to ride over and say something but figured he was a cop or something - this was in Englewood Cliffs.

Okay, the fun part ... Palisade Ave. I unclipped my left leg and straightened it - pointed my toe up and pressed the heel onto the road. My right leg was straight also. I dragged my left heel all the way down to my street. No cars honked and no cars rode into me. I looked for a sidewalk - none. I made it. Turning into my house, I was so happy.

My shoes were mountain bike - think rubber tread good for snow. The clips were SPD. Did I mention I wasn't have luck with clipping in the left foot the entire day? Anyway I got a good workout from snow dragging my wheels!

Jason, my coffee cart guy from Varick St
Ft Washington Ave - near GWB - northbound
Ft Washington Ave - near GWB - southbound
New glasses
GWB bike path
Hudson Terrace
GWB - NJ side Home - Sweet - Home!