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Why cyclists don't commute in NYC

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Why cyclists don't commute in NYC

Old 12-28-10, 06:13 PM
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Why cyclists don't commute in NYC

I ran across this in my news feed and this cyclists has some "interesting" rational why they would not bike commute. Agree or disagree?


*****************************************************
https://blogieciai.co.tv/new-york-sav...nce-free-quote
...
Iím an avid recreational cyclist, have been for the last 32 years. I now work at home, but if I had a job where I had to commute 10 miles each way, I could physically do it by bicycle with no problems most times of the year ( exceptions are rain, snow, days above 90 or below 30 ). However, thereís only one circumstance where I would even consider it-namely if my commute couldnít be done by public transit in a reasonable amount of time, say one hour or less. That would basically mean a commute which doesnít go into Manhattan, or if I worked in Manhattan off-hours when public transit doesnít run frequently. For going into Manhattan, the Q64 bus/E or F train is going to be faster and more convenient then biking could ever be most of the time, barring of course some major investment in grade-separated infrastructure like elevated bike lanes ( and we know thatís not happening anytime soon, if at all ).

So why wouldnít I even consider bike commuting in the majority of circumstances? Putting aside that Iím basically a night person who would find it difficult, if not impossible, to try riding at 7 or 8 AM, the roads would simply be too congested during normal commute times to give bicycling any advantage. Those ten miles which I could do in 35 to 38 minutes under free-flowing conditions might take twice that during rush hours. And it would be unhealthy/nauseating breathing in the fumes from autos ( this is one big reason most of my rides are after 10 PM ). It would also be stressful dealing with the myriad stupid things I see drivers/pedestrians/other cyclists do during the day. Thereís a lot to be said for letting someone else do the driving during times like that.

The bike commutes which would make sense to me, namely those during off-hours, or between less congested parts of the outer boroughs, are the only ones I would seriously consider. It all boils down to the fact that commuting by bike for me only makes sense when I can more or less travel at close to the maximum speed Iím physically capable of, unhindered by congestion. It also makes sense when bike commuting is quicker than the alternatives. A route involving heavily used protected bike lanes would ironically make bike commuting LESS attractive to me, not more attractive, as I have little desire or patience to ride at the 8 or 10 mph I typically observe cyclists traveling in these lanes at ( and constantly trying to pass slower cyclists would quickly wear me down ). This isnít a knock on those cyclists or the protected bike lanes, either. I realize those kinds of speeds and those lanes work very well for the more typical bike trips of 2 or 3 miles. For me personally though, I consider trips of that length walking territory. Iím a reasonably fast walker. If one considers that you might average 6 mph overall in protected bike lanes ( versus the 4.5 mph that I walk ), then biking would only save me around 10 minutes on a 3 mile trip ( less if you count the time spent parking the bike ). Not worth it from my perspective. And frankly, I find riding in Manhattan where most of the new bike infrastructure is aggravating anyway. I messengered for a short time there in 1981. I about had my fill of all the nonsense which goes on there, with taxis regularly cutting off bikes, pedestrians standing in the street, etc. Itís only gotten worse since. The subway is infinitely faster/more pleasant to me for travel to Manhattan.
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Old 12-28-10, 06:15 PM
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I'm all about not commuting by bike during rush hour, and I can't imagine anyplace in the US where the rush hour traffic is worse than NYC.

Good rail transit puts a dent in ridership too, I'm pretty sure most cyclists are public transit converts and not SOV driving converts.
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Old 12-28-10, 06:16 PM
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He makes a lot of sense. I wouldn't want to commute, or even live for that matter, in NYC.
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Old 12-28-10, 08:22 PM
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He makes some good points. I especially like his point about walking short (less than 3 mile) distances rather than breaking out the bike. Such short trips just don't justify riding, and yet all my neighbors use their cars for those same short trips . However, the usual elephant in the room is the fact that most of the public right-of-way is still given over to toxic-spewing mobile couches. If we could give cyclists and pedestrians adequate space, then it would not be so unpleasant to commute by bike.
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Old 12-28-10, 08:55 PM
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The article says:
" I realize those kinds of speeds and those lanes work very well for the more typical bike trips of 2 or 3 miles. For me personally though, I consider trips of that length walking territory. I’m a reasonably fast walker. If one considers that you might average 6 mph overall in protected bike lanes ( versus the 4.5 mph that I walk ), then biking would only save me around 10 minutes on a 3 mile trip ( less if you count the time spent parking the bike ). Not worth it from my perspective."

I don't live in NYC, and his average speeds may reflect his own experiences, but I don't think that those experiences provide a good basis for generalizing.
My daily commute, 3.5 miles round trip, takes 25 minutes by bike or 60 minutes on foot. Taking the bike is also significantly faster and more flexible for me than taking the bus would be. Not to mention the $$ saved. Going by bike is a no-brainer.

All commuting choices are local?
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Old 12-28-10, 10:34 PM
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Originally Posted by oban_kobi View Post
He makes a lot of sense. I wouldn't want to commute, or even live for that matter, in NYC.
except you almost got run over in the country yesterday.

cycling makes a lot more sense in the urban environment, IMO, but the trick is to live within 15 minutes of cycling to your job and other necessary destinations, not one hour or more.
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Old 12-28-10, 10:39 PM
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I mix it up. Sometimes I ride, sometimes I walk and sometimes I take the bus. Coming home late at night, I even take a taxi sometimes.

My rationale for not always riding has to do with hand injuries that bother me more some days. Also I was chased by a thug on a bike on my commute home a couple years ago, and sometimes I'm a little scared to ride late at night. (I work second shift.)
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Old 12-28-10, 10:52 PM
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I used to bike in Manhattan 10 years ago. Now that I'm older, I tend to agree with the writer and use the subway. Back in the day, I used to ride on the West Side bike path avoiding all the smog. During the morning, the bike path was practically empty and the only time I mixed with traffic was going crosstown to my final destination. Traffic going crosstown travels at 4-6 mph!

The trick to commuting in New York City is being able to take advantage of the bike path in the morning.
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Old 12-29-10, 12:01 AM
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Originally Posted by randya View Post
except you almost got run over in the country yesterday.

cycling makes a lot more sense in the urban environment, IMO, but the trick is to live within 15 minutes of cycling to your job and other necessary destinations, not one hour or more.
You can't see it, but I'm glowering at you. I don't appreciate being nearly killed. I'm not sure what you meant by that, could you explain?

You're very correct about the under an hour though, that would be awful. My commute to UC is ~30 minutes, and sometimes that feels long day after day. I tend to mix it up with taking the bus, especially in the winter. I just can't imagine living in New York and commuting every day, regardless of the method.
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Old 12-29-10, 12:12 AM
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My commute is a little over an hour each way. I would like it shorter, but I won't be able to sell my house for a while yet.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 12-29-10, 12:17 AM
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i think the fellas logic only explains why HE doesn't ride his bike in a city that has more riders than any other city in america and an marked upswing in bicycling.

he lives in new york city and expects to be able to ride his bike as fast as he can without having to deal with congestion?
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Old 12-29-10, 01:01 AM
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Originally Posted by oban_kobi View Post
You can't see it, but I'm glowering at you. I don't appreciate being nearly killed. I'm not sure what you meant by that, could you explain?
wasn't that you who posted in the mirror thread about a tow truck almost running you over?
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Old 12-29-10, 01:20 AM
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Originally Posted by randya View Post
cycling makes a lot more sense in the urban environment, IMO, but the trick is to live within 15 minutes of cycling to your job and other necessary destinations, not one hour or more.
The same seems to be true for suburbia as well.
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Old 12-29-10, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
i think the fellas logic only explains why HE doesn't ride his bike in a city that has more riders than any other city in america and an marked upswing in bicycling.

He lives in new york city and expects to be able to ride his bike as fast as he can without having to deal with congestion?
Perhaps he needs a bit of a reality check on that, though he has enough to stand on with smog alone.

Originally Posted by randya View Post
wasn't that you who posted in the mirror thread about a tow truck almost running you over?
Indeed it was. I just didn't see what it had to do with this thread.
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Old 12-29-10, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by The Human Car View Post
I ran across this in my news feed and this cyclists has some "interesting" rational why they would not bike commute. Agree or disagree?

*****************************************************
So why wouldn’t I even consider bike commuting in the majority of circumstances? ...the roads would simply be too congested during normal commute times to give bicycling any advantage...
Now I don't live in NYC, but where I'm from, traffic congestion is a very good reason to commute by bike.

Bikes fit in between cars very easily.
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Old 12-29-10, 11:50 AM
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For me I like to ride in low traffic or contested traffic. Low traffic conditions is easy enough to understand and in congestion, even though I can't go as fast as I like, it is immensely satisfying being the fastest human around and not putting much effort into it at all.

There is also the concept of being a time wienie. I like being out on a bike and anything within 10 minute difference really does not change your quality of life IMHO.

Some of what I think is going on is how to spin a bike commute so its fun. Granted being on a bike and cranking it up to 400 watts is fun but there are other ways to have fun too. Maybe we need to make more of an effort on how to enjoy riding in traffic rather then just focusing on how not to get killed in traffic?

Anyway I find the responses here interesting in light of the other thread Are New York Bike Lanes Working?. It sound to me as if they are not.
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Old 12-29-10, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by closetbiker View Post
Now I don't live in NYC, but where I'm from, traffic congestion is a very good reason to commute by bike.

Bikes fit in between cars very easily.
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Old 12-29-10, 01:24 PM
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Whoever wrote that is wise. There's nothing to fault the guy/gal for, and I don't think there's anything to reasonably disagree over, either. If public transit were that good in Seattle, (1) I'd take it instead of my bike to work, too, and (2) we'd have a lot less traffic and parking congestion problems.

Originally Posted by The Human Car View Post
There is also the concept of being a time wienie. I like being out on a bike and anything within 10 minute difference really does not change your quality of life IMHO.
In cycling advocacy, anyone with their own opinion is some kind of weenie. Also, I think people have the right to decide what's good or bad for the quality of their own life, and what's important to them.
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Old 12-29-10, 01:25 PM
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I normally ride after 10AM and after 6PM. The last time I went out on my bike to commute to work at 8 AM during actual rush hour, I was harassed by a motorist on the so-called 'traffic-calmed bike boulevard' within two blocks of leaving my house, and it immediately reminded me why I have a flex schedule and no longer ride during rush hour. This is in bicycle friendly Portland, mind you. I would have absolutely no desire to mix it up with the crazed drivers in NYC during rush hour. This is not an endorsement of separated infrastructure, either; the cyclists in Portland are just as bad as the motorists during rush hour, and I'm sure they are in NYC too.

There's plenty of room on the streets for everyone during the 18 'non-peak' hours of the day, and everyone is generally a lot calmer and more civil during those hours too.
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Old 12-29-10, 04:17 PM
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Reading between the lines I seem to be hearing that advocating bicycling to work should be a low priority or a major component of cycling to work should be flex hours and/or segregated facilities.
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Old 12-29-10, 05:32 PM
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I have to say that the rides I talk about most are those I have done in NYC over the past few years. City riding is really lots of fun. I love riding 8th Ave from the Staten Island Ferry terminal to Central Park. But besides that, just like most big cities, we can find some really neat places when you get around by bike.

New York is one of my favorite cities in America, and personally, I really like riding there.


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Old 12-29-10, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by capejohn View Post
you do know that you posted an example of one of the 'how not to do it' bike lanes, don't you?
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Old 12-29-10, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by closetbiker View Post
Now I don't live in NYC, but where I'm from, traffic congestion is a very good reason to commute by bike.

Bikes fit in between cars very easily.
Heck yes. I doubt that guy's claim that he was a messenger if he never figured that out.
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Old 12-29-10, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by The Human Car View Post
I ran across this in my news feed and this cyclists has some "interesting" rational why they would not bike commute. Agree or disagree?
Disagree.
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Old 12-29-10, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by 1nterceptor View Post
Disagree.
Nice video! I wounder if cyclists enjoying riding in traffic or not depends on what music is playing in their head. The sound track fits very nicely with what's happening.
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