06 March 2014


Bicycling as exercise is the next best thing after running, for me.  It's been a rough winter, the bike paths in my neighborhood were probably not cleared or safe enough to ride on, so I haven't done much cycling lately.  Today I happened to be in Midtown, below 59th Street, where there are many CitiBike stations.  I could have hopped on the D train somewhere and get home in about an hour, but it's been a while since I was in Manhattan so I wanted to walk or ride around a bit, to see what changed.  If there is a CitiBike station near my home I would have rode a bike all the way home, but as it is, I could only go as far as the northern part of Brooklyn, not far from the Manhattan Bridge.  It actually took me three bike trips, just to stay below the 45-minute limit, for annual members. The first trip started around 39th Street and Second Avenue.  I started walking from Madison and 39th, along 38th to the East River, thinking I would eventually hit some CitiBike station but I was wrong.  I briefly mingled with car traffic then quickly got onto the East River waterfront.  I stopped to take a photo of Queens and the Queensboro Bridge, which turned out smaller than what I wished for.  I traveled along the East River, mostly by myself as it was very cold out.  There was a runner here or a walker there, otherwise the path was nice and quiet.  Soon I had to decide which bridge to take to get into Brooklyn.  Brooklyn Bridge was easy to dismiss since I hate the shared bike and pedestrian path.  Sure there's a line separating the lanes, but pedestrians often walk in the bike lanes.  Brooklyn Bridge is just too touristy, I don't even like to run on it, never mind riding.  Manhattan Bridge would be OK but I hate to be in overcrowded Chinatown, so that left the Williamsburg Bridge.  Besides, I never rode over the Willy B before.  I ran over it a few times, time to find out how challenging its climb is.

Just to be safe, before the Willy B, at Clinton and Grand I returned the bike taken from Midtown and took out a different bike.  Another 45 minutes of free ride!  As soon as I got onto the bike/ped path of the Willy B, I pulled to the side and took a photo of the slope that I was about to go up against.  It was around 10:30 in the morning, and cold, so there were few people on the bridge.  I would not want to be run into by some cyclist barreling down the ramp.

The climb up the Willy B was challenging.  A CitiBike is probably not the ideal bike to go uphill, even at Gear 1.  Where the path split up to separate cyclists and pedestrians, I took another photo of the road to come.  Look at the slope in the distance!  On the Brooklyn side, I had to make a U-turn to get to Kent Avenue and its lovely protected bike lane.  I was going to change bike somewhere on Flushing Avenue, on the south side, as I recall, but instead I discovered the rack just inside a gate of the Navy Yard, at Vanderbilt.  Along Vanderbilt I rode all the way to just before Prospect Park.  It would be nice to take a ride in the park but time was running short, I have things to attend to in the afternoon so it was time to head for the subway.  I returned the bike on Fourth Avenue, near Barclay Center and the Pacific Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.  All three times I returned the bike, the green light went on, meaning the station registered that the bike was returned, very encouraging.  The CitiBike app can use some fixing though.  Each time I launched it, it would show my current position along with nearby bike stations, but only briefly then it crashes.  I've been hoping an update would fix the crash issue but so far no updates.

It would be really nice if some day there are CitiBike stations near Coney Island AND a bike lane is created on the Boardwalk.  Cops and sanitation people drive on the Boardwalk regularly, so I think a bike lane isn't that far-fetched.

Queens and Long Island City's many towers.
Man verus Bridge!
Far ahead, the road climbs higher!

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