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BK to NYC noob commuter

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BK to NYC noob commuter

Old 08-11-11, 09:47 AM
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chanamagoo
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BK to NYC noob commuter

Just made the introduction in the (surprise!) "Introductions" category, thought I would post the (almost) identical thread here just to cover all my bases!

Last month I took my bike out from behind my couch, put air back in the tires and rode around my Park Slope, Brooklyn neighborhood...did not get hit by cars...only hit myself in the face once with the handlebars while carrying it back up to my apt...soooo, yes, I would consider that a success!

Started commuting to midtown for work regularly and totally love it...I'm looking forward to when it becomes more like an extension of myself and not this thing that sometimes runs into other things (though I suppose the same can be said for...well...me...) and I can ride with the confidence (though perhaps not with quite the recklessness) that I see bike messengers have. I mean, I already love how much easier it is feeling (legs and ass-wise) in just the one month I have been doing it! I also really enjoy that I'm figuring various bike-ly things on my own (DISCLAIMER...I feel that these are somewhat obvious things....if you could refrain from saying "um. duh." when reading...or well, you can say it, but being the delicate flower that I am, I might feel dumb if said thought is put to page as a reply to this post...I mean, I had to youTube how to get on and off your bike such that you are not wobbling on your tippy toes when you come to a light...) - For example, if you are trying to bike through a narrower space, look THROUGH to the other side of the space or you will definitely pinball what you are trying to squeeze through...and the balance-y thing people do at lights and such where they back pedal just slightly so they can pedal FORWARD just enough to keep the bike SLIGHTLY in motion because when you're in motion, you are balancing...

Anyways...I look forward to getting to know my LBS (deciphering that acronym is also something bike-ly I learned...) more and talking to other bikers about helpful tips that will make my time in the saddle more effective.

Ok! So...any other NYC-ers out there that can share some helpful insider tips and tricks?
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Old 08-12-11, 01:39 PM
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I did that commute for years but alas (well, not really alas...) I escaped from NYC three years ago. There is a regular poster here, AdamDZ or something similar, he is still commuting in the Big Apple and blogging about it I think. You might pick up tips there or directly from him. What is your route? I think that is what people would want to know. Do you roll down Flatbush or do you noodle through Prospect Heights and North Crown Heights. Personally I would avoid Flatbush until I am well Downtown and ready to approach the Bridge. I worked right on Chambers St. off Centre so I never actually had to ride in Manhattan much, but I could and did, often, on the weekends for other reasons than commuting.

The balance-y thing is called a 'track stand' and it is best performed on a real track bike with a fixed gear so when you pedal backwards you really are moving the bike backward. On a bike like yours (assuming here) to get the backward component of motion you would have to be pedalling against a slight uphill against which you let yourself roll backward off and again. Not always practical. About the best I've ever been able to manage is to get really good at slow speed maneuvering, extremely slow speed maneuvering.

If you can possibly swing it, fly out here to Portland for a week. I've never seen so many women (assuming again) on bicycles, ever. And they ride hard, and not just bicycles, motorcycles too. Maybe you too will defect to the closest thing to Amsterdam, NL in the U.S.

H
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Old 08-12-11, 02:15 PM
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I commute daily from Clinton Hill to lower Manhattan. My best advice is use bike lanes and one way streets if you can, and go over the Manhattan Bridge instead of the Brooklyn Bridge if possible. The Bk bridge is just full of tourists wandering into the bike path, and locals who think it's OK to walk there to avoid the tourists, and who will just give you an "F-U" if you ask them to please walk on the other side.

Otherwise, be alert, don't ride in the "door zone", don't go the wrong way down the street (even if the bike lane is only on 1 side!), and have a good time.
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Old 08-12-11, 03:38 PM
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And avoid Flatbush, Atlantic, and other big streets without bike lanes, except to cross them. Period. It is not worth the risk.
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Old 08-12-11, 06:46 PM
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Right now I'm going from 5th and Union to either Grand Central to catch the MetroNorth up to the Bronx (was just about to post another BK to BX commuter question about THAT beast of a commute...) or to 57th and 1st where I work...

I learned the first time around a few years ago that you should absolutely avoid the BK bridge like the plague, even though its much prettier...I go down through Carroll Gardens and downtown to the Manhattan Bridge off of Jay Street (TODAY = MILESTONE...they are doing construction on the bridge and theres a detour for bikers and pedestrians...and the biker part involves a kind of sharp turn through those metal cylinder thingees and I FINALLY got up the nerve to make that turn and I stayed on my bike! Small victory for meeee!), then up 1st ave until I get to where I need to be. So far, so good...the bike lanes up 1st and down 2nd ave are really wonderful, if you dont count the people that just. STEP. into the lane without even LOOKING. I literally almost killed a small infant baby in a stroller a few weeks ago because the whole family just walked right in (NOT at a light...) - I came to a SCREECHING halt and even so, I think my wheel was like, an INCH from the stroller itself...

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of not only completing my longest commute to date (Park Slope to 95th and Columbus Ave), but also going up the West Side Highway...that was really nice...
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Old 08-12-11, 06:55 PM
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OH. and thanks for the tips =o)
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Old 08-12-11, 09:11 PM
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No problem! Yeah, pedestrians just walking in front of you is a HUGE problem. And then they get mad at us. WTF?!

I go up the lower part of the West Side bike path on my way home, before I cut over though City Hall park and to the Bk bridge. It's nice, but again the complaint I have is people walking in or stepping into the bike path. It's not the sidewalk, folks.

Do you have a bell? I find it works well at clearing people out of the way. Get a good, loud one, if you don't have one. The Crane ones like this are very loud and effective: https://store.somafab.com/sucrbeinco.html I find most other types to be not as loud. People tend to get out of the way, unless they have headphones in.

We probably pass each on Jay Street now and again! Have fun and be alert!
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Old 08-13-11, 01:43 AM
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+1 on the bell; it's required by law in NYC, anyway!

Trying to give you some more advice, but I'm either drawing a blank or lostarchitect has covered most of the good stuff.

Keep riding, you'll get your bearings pretty quickly. Let us know if you have any more specific questions.
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Old 08-14-11, 05:28 PM
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thanks again, peeps...i just got a bell...for some reason "HEADS UP HEADS UP STOP WALKING BIKER COMING THROUGH GET OUT OF THE BIKE LINE HEADS UP HEADS UP" was really ineffective...i'm also considering a whistle...i did the prospect park moonlight ride last night with time's up! and one of the guys was saying that nobody ever listens to his bell, but the whistle is quite the attention getter...
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Old 08-14-11, 11:03 PM
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It's probably effective, but just remember to use that whistle at your own risk. In NYS (as well as Oregon, and probably other states as well), no sirens or whistles may be used by cyclists.
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