Page 2 of 7
When the helpful folks over at Ride Brooklyn agreed to lend me a bike for this, I also insisted on a tutorial. I've done plenty of riding on bike paths and in deserted small towns, but never on busy roads that are shared with cars, delivery trucks, other people on bikes (maniacs, all of them), and god knows what else. It's a different skill set, and I need advice.
So, after setting me up with a bike map and a silver, 8-speed Schwinn, complete with safety lights and a bell (by far my favorite feature other than the brakes), the store's Brand and Marketing Manager Al gives me some pointers, then takes me on a good, old-fashioned ride-along.
Among other things, I learn why you shouldn't ever lock your bike to scaffolding (it's easily unscrewed), where to ride in the road (toward the outside of the bike lane to avoid having car doors open into you, and in roughly this same spot even if there isn't a marked lane), and major avenues to avoid (Atlantic, Fulton, the packed-with-pedestrians bike lanes on 1st Ave in Manhattan).
"Ride with purpose, and people will make room for you," Al tells me. Fair enough.
My original plan was to
puss out ease in and take the bike on the train home from their Park Slope store, but rush hour is just starting, getting back to Bushwick would take three transfers, and the incident-free 4-block ride-along has me feeling ballsy.
After a few circles around Fort Greene Park (where I am the only adult on a bike, and the only one wearing a helmet), I take Al's advice and ride home via Willoughby Ave, which is tree-lined, devoid of heavy traffic, and totally idyllic. I never even knew this street existed before this trip, I'm outrageously proud of myself, and think this will work out.
The only problems I run into on my ride involve other people on bikes.