(David, Chris, Meg, Me, and Haley)So, here we are at Bike New York! (Thanks Chris for the photos!) ... all of us at the 3rd rest stop with a great view of Manhattan in the top photo, and me and Chris stuffed into the 'special train' for all of the cyclists heading to the ride in the bottom photo. On the way over to Manhattan from Jersey City, I detached the trailer from the bike to maneuver the escalators, but coming back later I just left it on and escalated with it attached. That was pretty easy to do actually. I love escalating with large pieces of equipment that I have to hold on to. I really just love escalating; to escalate; let's escalate! (Alright, enough of that.) For the stairs I had to do two trips, and thankfully Meg was there to help Haley get up and down the stairs and escalators. She was a great helper.
We were able to stay together the whole ride. As Chris commented at one point, the large group of over 30,000 riders was kind of like an individual organism, ebbing and flowing, and moving in its own organic way. It was nice to have a completely car free ride, though I couldn't help thinking while on the expressway that I probably wouldn't choose to use it as a cyclist if I did have the option. I like being tucked in between buildings and down on the street where I can see and feel people moving around me. At the same time, a wide open road practically all to yourself is a great feeling too.
A week or so before the ride I found some New York bicycle license plates on ebay. I bought them to hand out at the ride. After giving one to Meg, I had 9 left to hand out. By the end of the ride I still had three left. So 6 people were willing to take one. Others weren't so keen on it. I think some who declined just thought it was stupid and were too cool for a little bike license plate, and others I think wondered what the catch was. Maybe they thought I had installed little tiny cameras on them, and would be watching the rest of their lives through it from a little dark closet in a basement or something. I still have 3 left. If you want one, let me know.
I think it is astounding how this ride comes off. The organization it takes to make it happen is extreme. The main thing that stands out to me is how they close such major roadways to allow it to be car free. If New York can do this, I think any very large city can do this. I was thinking of Hong Kong alot as we were riding over the Verazzano Bridge. That is a large issue in Hong Kong because cyclists cannot access Lantau Island from Kowloon or Hong Kong Island without taking a train or ferry. It is illegal to ride the bikes over the bridges. In fact, before I left there, Martin (a director of the Hong Kong Bicycling Alliance) and I were talking about this very issue of bikes on the bridges there. I was also thinking of Hong Kong alot because we were on the train and ferry as part of this ride. Cyclists have just begun in the past few years being allowed on the trains and ferries in Hong Kong, and indeed you cannot get everywhere on a bike that you want to there without having to utilize one or the other. I think a ride like Bike New York could very well happen in Hong Kong, where they coordinate a car free route by closing some expressway lanes and bridge lanes in an orderly fashion to accomodate a large group of cyclists for a day. 'Bike Hong Kong' has a good ring to it too.