April 02, 2012

A Happy Bike Girl...

Last weekend I got myself a new puppy - a.k.a. a new TREK Mountain Bike 3500, after my old one 'died' on the road to New York City by flying off the roof of my friend's car. I mourned it for a day as I looked at the left-overs of my biking days in Washington, DC - a helmet, two locks and two tires, all that's left from the bike. And of course, while everyone was enjoying a Sunday brunch, I actually ventured out early in the morning - and went shopping for a new bike - [believe it or not, but I actually got up early on Sunday to go bike shopping; there are rare occasions I'd be forced out of bed on an early Sunday morning!]. 

I was lucky that right in my neighborhood was a small bike shop Metro Bicycles, when ended to be all I wanted - small, friendly and with all the stuff that I needed - a bike, a basket and lights. Got to have your lights in the city! And - a new bike comes with a three-year guarantee and, I must say, with a very friendly fun group of the staff. [Those guys wanted to know everything from how it's biking in Moscow and Paris vs. biking in Los Angeles and San Francisco...]

Here's a thing, I knew exactly the kind of bike I wanted. With a twenty-something biking experience in many cities of the world, I got to know what my body and mind needs from a bike. I'm not a 'thin tires' biker, I'm a 'thick tires' biker - I like the feel of the mountain-like big, thick tires. Those who have Jeeps, know what I mean. The store staffer told me that some thick tires require more work to get up to the speed faster in comparison to the thin ones, which, I told him, was, actually, perfect, as I'm looking for more than just biking with a basket full of apples and juice. I'm actually looking for a big time work-out and to be able to take my bike to the beach and countryside, so no 'thin' tires for me, please

I told him exactly the length I needed, the gadgets I needed and the frame I was looking for. At the end of the purchase, he turned to me and said - [and that comment could have made my dad very happy, if I told him]: "I've never seen a girl walking in a bike shop, knowing exactly what she needed. That's unbelievable." Yep, always know what I want and need, ha!

Feeling happy from the purchase, like some ladies would have been happy about the new Jimmy Choo's stilettos, I thought of checking the neighborhood to see what's the biking situation is like, and what I've found made me even happier. Even though I've been already thrilled of seeing more and more people biking in the city before...

The 12 great bike-friendly finds:

  1. Definitely more people are riding bikes in the city these days...So happy about it!
  2. It's no longer just the biking on the sides of the roads, most major avenues and streets have biking lanes.
  3. For the most ignorant cab drivers and drivers, in general, warning signs are placed all around - they are big, they are very visible.
  4. Both men and women bike.
  5. Parents with kids bike!
  6. Couples bike; unbelievably romantic...
  7. Biking is no longer for the exercising only in New York, people actually bike as means of transportation, being dressed in regular clothes. [Spotted a few gals in dresses and heels!]
  8. Biking is no longer for the take-out delivery guys, it's actually developed a fashion on its own - some of the biggest trendiest brands are now selling biking attire. [Check Levi's cool window display on New York bikers...Very happy about it!]
  9. People no longer stare at the bikers, who bike in the city as to the suiciders. It's a normal thing to do now...
  10. Biking 'parking lots' are everywhere.
  11. New Yorkers actually do park their bikes on the sides of the roads: is the fright of having your bikes stolen over? I really hope so...
  12. Parks and the river-fronts - have become 100-times nicer to the bikers: aside from the perfect biking lanes, there are now water fountains along the path, benches to relax and the views to kill for. [I told you about this one before in my previous blog.]
There's only two cons to riding a bike in the city - the walk-up apartment buildings and the small apartment spacing that most of us have in New York. Yep, not only I would have to carry mine three stores up, but would actually need to find a place in the apartment, where to keep it. Sorry, Chester - that would be executed at the expense of your spacing. [Chester is my adorable cat, by the way...]

Not a biker, but still very, very cool. It's all about the co-existence on the biking lanes!

Let's just say, overall, I'm very, very happy gal to see the changes, which made the city that's been considered to be the worst in the world for biking - more bike-friendly. Should we thank Michael Bloomberg? I really think so!

P.S. And I don't just ride a bike, I actually write quite a lot about the biking culture. Here's my photo-report on the biking culture in Washington, DC I did for Voice of America last year.

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