Bikes in NYC: Are we becoming European?

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Wherever my travels take me, I always enjoy observing, if not directly experiencing, the myriad ways in which the locals get around town. The family of 6 on one scooter in Thailand, the shepherd with his flock riding on top of an Indian bus, and the over-flowing psychedelically painted Jesus-themed Guatemalan chicken bus are just a few examples. But nothing is more inspiring than seeing the ways people use bicycles.

I guess you could say that the bicycle is a fairly established means of transport in most places around the world. Much more so than in the majority of the US. On a few occasions I’ve witnessed how the use of bicycles abroad has inspired wayward American travelers. Upon return to the states, they become loyal bike commuters or avid bicycle advocates. In his recent blog post, ‘Gern Blanston’, the marketing honcho at the Surly Intergalactic Headquarters, admittedly writes that a visit to Paris inspired him to forego his auto and take up the good life on an iron horse. One of my former coworkers bought a bike almost immediately after his plane landed from a trip to Japan. The infection is spreading. 

Before hitting up the bike and beer wonderland of Vermont, we stopped in NYC (aka the Center of the Universe, the Capital of the World, or Gotham, depending on your point of view) to take in America’s greatest metropolis for a couple of days. I have always loved New York because sometimes it actually feels like you are in another country. You can walk down the street and hear 5 languages being spoken simultaneously or travel from Italy to China just by crossing the street. I hadn’t visited the city in over a decade, and, of course I am slightly biased, but the first thing that took me by surprise are the amount of bikes—parked, being ridden, broken down, in pieces chained to lamp-posts… everywhere. Much more than I remembered.

It may be that it’s a bitch to drive in NY. There are indeed a mad number of people crammed into a relatively small area. Maybe it’s the result of our bike culture evolving past clicks of spandex-clad white guys to something that is approachable for everyone. Or, maybe it’s the addition of bike lanes, a massive greenway or the Summer Streets promotion where the city blocks off 7 miles of NY city streets for everyone to bike, walk or run. Of course, it’s not just NYC… Portland is probably the bike capital of the US. Either way it’s nice to know that nowadays, right here in the good-ole US-of-A, people can get inspired to ride bikes without even cracking open their passports.

NYC Bikes - bike theft

Not sure what happened to the rest of this guy. There are many more like him though!

Schwinn tandem

Gin found Blue’s soulmate! Urban Assault Ride anyone?

NYC Williamsburg bridge

The view of the Williamsburg Bridge from the roof of our hotel.

Bike touring NYC

I would be interested in knowing the route they used to get into Manhattan!

NYC Bikes - bike theft

Everything but the…

Taco bus

A little too early for a michelada.
NYC Bikes - bike theft
You can’t see from this angle that this is a no parking sign.

Nevermore NYC Graffiti

Cool graffiti… saw several of these.

NYC Bikes - bike theft

There are a lot of steel frame gems here.

Strada Bicycles

Very cool shop sign. Unfortunately it was closed.
Adventure art
Yes please.

Hennepin Farmhouse Saison

A wonderful farmhouse saison from Cooperstown.

NYC Bikes - bike theft

Plenty of Linus here. All of them dinged up to no end. I would have to coat my bike with Rhino Liner if I lived here.
NYC mural
Not bikes, but very NY.

NYC Graffiti

Cool street art.
Adeline Adeline Bike Shop
The window dressing at Adeline Adeline.

Adeline Adeline Bike Shop

Hand painted helmets.

NYC sign

They don’t make ’em like this anymore.

NYC Bikes - bike theft

You have to pretty much chain everything here. And take your seat… even if it’s not QR.

NYC Street photography

Some creepy subway street photography.

NYC Bikes - bike theft

This guy is on his last leg.

NYC Summer Streets

Summer Streets. On three consecutive Saturdays every summer, nearly seven miles of New York City’s streets are opened up for everyone to play, run, walk and bike.
NYC Summer Streets
Summer Streets route map.

NYC Graffiti

Every little nook has something to be discovered.

NYC Summer Streets

I had to get a photo of this guy.

NYC Summer Streets


NYC Summer Streets

The Citibike program.
Folding bike
Lot’s of folding bikes in NYC. A Brompton.
I Bike NY

NYC Graffiti

Gin said the drawing in the upper left looks like me in a bear suit.


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