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  1. #1
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    does NYC suck for riding?

    Ok, so say I'm not into urban, single speed or fixed gear riding. Am I going to hate life in NYC?

    Is it even possible to go mountain biking?

    And what about the traffic, and the pollution?

    How does one train for racing when living in NYC?

    And how does a car-free guy get out of the city for races? I guess I'm either renting, or I'm stuck.

    Forgive me if these questions are ignorant. I have no idea what to expect. Please advise!

    Should I just sell my rigs and take up video games?

  2. #2
    Senior Member robo's Avatar
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    I've been living in NYC for 3 years, and have been biking here for about 4 months.. So far... i'm seriously dissatisfied.

    In the city, the air is filthy, the traffic sucks, and it's just not a bike friendly city in general. As for mountain biking, the only place i've found that's practical to get to without a car is Van Cortlandt park, which is pretty bad... biking isn't allowed officially, the trails are boring and littered with broken glass, crack baggies, and used condoms, and the air is still filthy.

    Call me a bit disappointed...

    I do have some plans to take the Metro North to some trails up in Westchester, but haven't done that yet. Still, having to take a a bunch of commuter trains to go riding isn't the greatest..

    Maybe part of the problem is that i don't actually know anyone who rides in the city (all my friends think i'm a freak for riding a bike), so there may be some secrets i'm not in on!!

  3. #3
    NYC Buckeye Yonsei gahaya's Avatar
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    I don't race or mountain bike, so I'll leave those questions for others to answer. As for taking the bike out of the city, go to www.transalt.org (actually, for a lot more about biking in the city, go there) - they have information about the surrounding train systems and their policies on bikes. And there's something called the Kissena Velodrome where there's bike racing - I don't know about it, but Google it or search for it here and see.

    My two cents about biking here in general, pro and con:

    NYC biking is great because:
    - This is the only American city (where I've lived or know of) where car and truck drivers (grudgingly) concede that they are not usually the boss of the streets. They may not like us or peds, but they have to give sway to us much more than anywhere else, because of the crowds -- and because of the subset of cyclists who are very aggressive in traffic and won't take any crap from someone in a multi-ton vehicle, and drivers know it. This is more true in Manhattan than the other boroughs. Out of their own self-interest, drivers have to be aware of us and avoid crashing into us - not that it never happens, it happens too much. But I feel much safer here than some of the places I read about in these forums, where cyclists are yelled at to get on the sidewalk(!!!) or have things thrown at them, or rarely see other cyclists on the streets. Here we're all over the place.

    - Most places are flat.

    - Most traffic is slow (again, most true in Manhattan, but also many other places). Personally I prefer lots of cars going 15-30 mph (or at a standstill while I pass them) instead of fewer cars going 60. It took me a while to get used to biking in heavy traffic but once you figure it out, it's not a problem; you just have to stay very alert.

    - There are lots of bike communities if you want to be social about cycling (people who take long rides out of town, family-friendly riders, public-policy advocates, Critical Massers, I'm guessing racers too).

    - Bike paths by the water, especially the Hudson; if you're used to much more nature this might not impress you, but it's still a lovely respite for cityfolk. I also hear some people really like to bike around Central Park and Prospect Park, but I haven't done much of that.

    - When you bike all around town, you feel free, free, free! Because it's a great and gigantic city to explore. I just don't think you get this same feeling by either walking/training or dealing with the car hassles of traffic and parking.

    - If you have a total bike breakdown or just don't want to deal with the sudden blizzard, you can take your bike on the subway 24/7/365. You'll never get stranded.

    NYC biking sucks because:
    - Even if 90% of drivers are more or less good about avoiding cyclists, you're in so much traffic that every day you will still face many, many drivers who either don't see you or hate you or are reckless around you. And on many streets, you don't have much space between you and moving cars on one side and parked cars on the other (by not much space I mean inches). You can "take the lane" to be out of the door zone in many places, but by no means all, depending on how narrow the street is, how fast the cars are going, and how fast you ride. Just last week, a woman got fatally caught between a parked truck's open door and a passing truck's wheel. There are dangers, for sure.

    - Lots of peds, who mostly leap out from behind parked trucks and run in front of your path when you have the light. Or walk, slowly, in front of your path when you have the light, refusing to make eye contact. They think that they are the boss of the streets. This is the flip side to cars knowing they're not. Peds are as big an obstacle or more than vehicles, but you also get used to that.

    - Lots of bike theft. Though I've been locking mine on the street for 8-16 hours every day and haven't lost my bike or parts yet. Knock on wood.

    - I guess the air is bad, but I lived in Bangkok for 4 years before moving here, so NYC air is clean spring freshness compared to that.

    - Maybe there are more downsides, but I can't think of any.

    So you see, I come out heavily pro-NYC-biking. I didn't think I would ever be an urban cyclist but the last 18 months or so have changed my life. Anyway, there are a lot of New Yorkers who post regularly on the commuting threads -- it sounds like you're not planning on being a commuter, but you may want to browse a little to get other viewpoints on biking in the city. Good luck, hope you find ways to enjoy cycling here!
    Last edited by gahaya; 06-15-05 at 05:58 PM.

  4. #4
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    I don't fancy riding in the city. But if you need to get out to some nice roads for training you should be able to take your bike on NJ Transit from Penn Station during off-peak times. If you took the Midtown Direct train to say Chatham, Madison or points west there is a lot of great riding (e.g. the Great Swamp). Others can probably suggest other places along the NJ Transit system, LIRR and MetroNorth. Good luck!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by gahaya
    - Lots of peds, who mostly leap out from behind parked trucks and run in front of your path when you have the light. Or walk, slowly, in front of your path when you have the light, refusing to make eye contact. They think that they are the boss of the streets. This is the flip side to cars knowing they're not. Peds are as big an obstacle or more than vehicles, but you also get used to that.
    110% true! They know you're coming, but they don't make eye contact.

  6. #6
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robo
    Maybe part of the problem is that i don't actually know anyone who rides in the city (all my friends think i'm a freak for riding a bike), so there may be some secrets i'm not in on!!
    Anytime you want to go ride, just message one of us on the board, we're usually bored heh.

  7. #7
    neptune diner bennyk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slvoid
    Anytime you want to go ride, just message one of us on the board, we're usually bored heh.
    i thought i was the only one....
    bk

  8. #8
    ride ya bike mutha*****! commuteORdie's Avatar
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    "Is it even possible to go mountain biking?"
    Sure, I don't know where, but there's gotta be somewhere.

    “And what about the traffic, and the pollution?”
    NYC is one of the dirtiest cities in the US, the traffic is horrible in many areas, and potholes are everywhere, but don't let that discourage you from riding.

    “How does one train for racing when living in NYC?”
    Laps in central park, Prospect Park, riding to Nyack, NY, rollers, trainers, etc. different people do different things.

    “And how does a car-free guy get out of the city for races? I guess I'm either renting, or I'm stuck.”
    Make friends with a car owner.

    “Should I just sell my rigs and take up video games?”
    Well video games are safer, that’s for sure, but no ones heath ever increased by mashing a joystick.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by commuteORdie
    “Should I just sell my rigs and take up video games?”
    Well video games are safer, that’s for sure, but no ones heath ever increased by mashing a joystick.
    so just how dangerous is it?

  10. #10
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    I just went riding IN THE DOWNPOUR today at 6PM in Brooklyn's Belt Parkway's multiple use lane.

  11. #11
    ride ya bike mutha*****! commuteORdie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by islenska
    so just how dangerous is it?

    I mean it's as dangerous as you make it. Take it easy, get adjusted to the streets (traffic, potholes, pedestrians, etc.), and you should be fine. In my opinion getting around by bike is the most efficient way to travel in most parts of NYC, and by the way, most cyclist here ride geared bikes, so don't believe the hype.

  12. #12
    ride ya bike mutha*****! commuteORdie's Avatar
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    just ride ya bike.

  13. #13
    Luggite bsyptak's Avatar
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    My .02:

    I lived on Manhattan's Upper East Side for 10 years (90s). I had a bike, but it didn't get a ton of use. For me, since I wanted to live, I rarely rode on the city streets. I would use 83rd or 85th to get to Central Park where the riding (mtn or road) is great. There is a 6-7 mile loop through one of the finest parks in America.

    During rush hour all over Manhattan, there is so much traffic that you will only be riding a block before stopping. The few bike paths on streets are convenient places to double park. Actually, all side lanes are convenient places to double park.

    I did, however, take Metro North from Grand Central on Saturday and Sunday mornings a number of times to the Bear Mountain area (1 hour). The Adirondack Trail and numerous parks are around this area. The mountain biking is good, and there are many roads in utilized by road bikers.

    I did the 5 borough bike tour one year. That's kinda fun. 40ish miles on carless roads is usually impossible in NY.

    So, Manhattan, in my opinion, is better for food, the city experience, stuff like that. Biking only because if you live there; it's all you've got.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by islenska
    Ok, so say I'm not into urban, single speed or fixed gear riding. Am I going to hate life in NYC?

    1. Is it even possible to go mountain biking?

    2. And what about the traffic, and the pollution?

    3. How does one train for racing when living in NYC?

    4. And how does a car-free guy get out of the city for races? I guess I'm either renting, or I'm stuck.

    Forgive me if these questions are ignorant. I have no idea what to expect. Please advise!

    5. Should I just sell my rigs and take up video games?
    1. Mountain biking in New York City?? Take New Jersey Transit at 34th street and head for the burbs. It's simple and there are loads of trails in Jersey and you can use the system to get right back in New York City for all the action. That's the beauty of New York in that you are not stuck to watching trees grow leaves for the rest of your life. The commuter rail system allows you to enjoy the burbs and the city in the same day.

    2. Ride your bicycle on the West side bike path and your free of the traffic and polution. I think you're crazy if you stay on that path all day because all the action is in Times Square. Get up at 6:00 O'clock on a Sunday morning and the city is deserted. You'll love riding on empty streets because the city is breathtaking.

    3/4. There's a velodrome in Queens. You can take the subway and ride a couple of miles and you're there. Here's the instructions to get there by bicycle or train

    Directions to the Kissena Park Velodrome by Subway (and Bicycle): Take the 7 subway to the end of the line at Main Street in Flushing. Ride one mile south on Kissena Blvd. to Kissena Park, turn left at Booth Memorial Ave., then left at Parsons Blvd. to the Velodrome entrance.

    Take the F subway to Parsons Blvd., go two miles north on P arsons Blvd., veer left on Kissena Blvd., right turn on Booth Memorial Ave., then left at Parsons Blvd. to entrance; or stay on Parsons Blvd., cross LIE on pedestrian bridge at 159 St., then cross Booth Memorial Ave. to entrance.


    5. Video Games?? People are still buying those things? I though that went out with the heavy metal bands in the 80's!

  15. #15
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    seriously, thanks for all the information. it looks like maybe its not as bad as i thought.

    i have a question though...lets say i take my bike on a train to NJ to go mountain biking. i guess unless i want to have a huge camelback or pack (which i hate riding with), a change of clothes is out of the question, and i'm riding the train in my lycra with my pockets full of patch kits and cliff bars.

    and on the way back i'm on the train all dirty, wet, muddy, sweaty, smelly, cold, etc.?

    just trying to visualize how all this works....

  16. #16
    militant commuter
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    Quote Originally Posted by islenska
    and on the way back i'm on the train all dirty, wet, muddy, sweaty, smelly, cold, etc.?
    You have never been on NJ Transit have you? Don't worry you won't stand out.
    The city is a great place to ride, you can get out of it on your bike or on a train, and don't worry what anyone thinks. Any one who notices you, will probably ask about your ride.

  17. #17
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    islenska - you'll be able to find places to ride, no problem. i ride (road) everyday and manage to get plenty of miles in. there are races on the weekends over the summer and some good group rides to join. i think the bike culture here is really good. you can get away from traffic if you want.

  18. #18
    Calamari to go cc_rider's Avatar
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    Potholes, traffic, air pollution, crime - how dangerous could it be?

    For the past couple of years I came back to NY for just one day of riding: the 5 Borough Tour followed by a couple of hours on the Westside Greenway. Hoping to make it up for the New York Century in September.

    As a tourist-biker the city is great. If I was a commuter I'd probably feel differently.

    islenska - sounds like you are planning a visit.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by cc_rider
    islenska - sounds like you are planning a visit.
    yeah, a (semi) permanent one. talk about a change of scenery...

  20. #20
    Senior Member robo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nycm'er
    You have never been on NJ Transit have you? Don't worry you won't stand out.

    LOL, i was going to say the same thing.

  21. #21
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by islenska
    i have a question though...lets say i take my bike on a train to NJ to go mountain biking. i guess unless i want to have a huge camelback or pack (which i hate riding with), a change of clothes is out of the question, and i'm riding the train in my lycra with my pockets full of patch kits and cliff bars.
    Why can't you take a change of clothes in a backpack and when you get to the trail just stash it in the woods near the trailhead? Surely you could find a place where nobody will bother it? Just don't leave anything valuable behind. A lightweight pair of nylon hiking pants and shirt could easily be rolled up and stuffed in a largish seatbag or strapped to the outside of a small camelback. Weight less than a pound.

  22. #22
    MAK
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    Take a look at the current issue of BICYCLING Magazine. NYC was rated as one of the top cities to bike in. We just had a group from our local club go up (3rd annual trip) and the report was that the tour went very well. NYC has detailed information regarding bike paths and bike friendly roads (see the article for contact information). The article also lauds central park as a good off road venue.

    The best thing about cycling in NYC is that when you're done you can get a great corned beef sandwich, the best pizza in the world and a chocolate egg cream to was it down.

  23. #23
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    If you are near the West Side, you can take the green-way up to the George Washington Bridge and cross over to Jersey. The Rt9 ride up to Nyack is popular with area cyclists and a nice ride once you get out of Englewood Cliffs.

    Alternately, you can take the New York Waterway Ferry from Pier 38 to Jersey. The ferry charges $1 extra for bikes.

    The above suggestions are easy alternatives for road biking. If you want to mountain bike, you'll have to find a way to get further out into Jersey or up to Bear Mountain in Rockland County, NY.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAK
    Take a look at the current issue of BICYCLING Magazine. NYC was rated as one of the top cities to bike in. We just had a group from our local club go up (3rd annual trip) and the report was that the tour went very well. NYC has detailed information regarding bike paths and bike friendly roads (see the article for contact information). The article also lauds central park as a good off road venue.

    The best thing about cycling in NYC is that when you're done you can get a great corned beef sandwich, the best pizza in the world and a chocolate egg cream to was it down.
    Further proof of the total cluelessness of Bicycling.

    Also, just where do you put your bike so that it won't be stripped while you are in Katz's eating your sandwich?

  25. #25
    ROM 6:23 flipped4bikes's Avatar
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    NO! Let's just say it's versatile. The most fun I ever had cycling was the two years I lived in the NC area. I joined the NYCC and it was the best thing! You got everybody riding hybrids to full-on racing machines. And they will ride anywhere! Long Island, upstate NY, the five boroughs, Central Park. If you take the attitude of riding NYC as a FUN challenge, there is no limit to what you can do!

    Once you get out there, it will hit you how big a bicycling community NYC really is. Howz dat 4 an endorsement?

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