Incidental New Yorker (VII) on wheels

Copenhagenising NYC

September 8, 2015

Left, right or centre?

Cruiusing in NYC
Cruising in NYC on our blue beauties © Peter Holm

🚲 🚲 My New Yorker existence has gained new meaning! It came in the form of a beautiful handcrafted uniquely UN blue bicycle from Danish Herskind&Herskind! Danish design at its most exquisite. Pedalling is now my very real contribution to copenhagenising this city. Biking here is a bit like if we introduced elephants 🐘 🐘 🐘 or other alien road-users in Denmark.

There isn’t really room for bicycles here. Good people assure me that it is improving by the day! Even if city planners love cyclists, even if there are designated lanes, “shared” lanes, which are shared between bikes and cars, it is like running a gauntlet, but it is also exciting!

Fresh out of a city where cycling is a very common form of transportation, possibly the most common form, and has been so for decades, where cyclists have their own, truly designated, integrated bike lanes between the pavement and the car lanes, finding your place in New York’s traffic is puzzling to say the least. In practice it is survival of the fittest. Sometimes you have to ride in the left side of the road, sometimes in the middle and sometimes to the right. No risk of routine here.

And you have to shackle your bike seriously! “Never to a tree,” said the woman in the bike shop. “They will cut it down!” That said, getting around in the city changes completely. With an eye on each finger, in the back of your head and one on each side of the head, like a hen, and an ugly, but necessary helmet, the city unfolds before you in an entirely new shape! You notice new details, distance shrinks and your range of action explodes.

And when stopping for coffee or lemonade, you have to watch your bike. Our bikes have lots of admirers. Two were a little too admiring and looked as if they were considering which tools to use to cut the powerful lock!

Even with such massive obstruction, biking here is fun! My husband is much more of a dedicated cyclist than I am – he is used to riding his bike to and from work in Denmark, 15 kms each way, 30 kms (app. 20 miles) a day.

So we are looking forward to exploring the city together on our blue beauties. When we rode them for the very first time outside the UN, we talked to two architects from Danish Gehl Studio, which is responsible for the copenhagenising of NYC. They were enthusiastic and have made a huge contribution to enable cycling here, ranging from the various bike paths to introducing mandatory cycle storage in new buildings and where ever possible at work places. And in Central Park there is a 10 km (6.1 mile) designated, one-way (!), paved bicycle path, which you share with a lot other cyclists and joggers. Labo(u)r Day it was like participating in a grand procession of cyclists and runners. Interesting!

Or you can ride along the Hudson – or for that matter East River, although a good part of that ride is along the massive exhaust from heavy traffic on FDR Highway. At the bicycle shop they tell me that the trend here is going  from racing and mountain bikes now to city cruisers. “For business peole,” they said. We have registered our bikes in our building, but the bike storage facility is not at all geared to people using their bicycle every day – and often times more than once – so we now park the UN blue beauties decoratively in our flat; when we’re not out there on going about our business them, that is!

our blue beauties
Our blue beauties parked in our flat