Teach me how to ride in NYC

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Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

Hi. I'm a beginner cyclist and have moved to NY recently. While I knew how to ride in the streets back home, I am not so sure about cycling in NYC.

Can anybody at this club give me pointers or classes on riding the streets the 'NY' way?

Many thanks for any and all assistance.

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)
Never....

Never ride between a cab and the curb.

Always be aware of a door opening as you go by. Always leave enough room for a door to swing open even if it means you will be infringing on the adjacent traffic lane.

Look at the bike messengers; they are in your face. It is better being overt than innocuous in traffic. You must be seen by drivers. But don't take risks. Be predictable.

Anyone else out there with advice?

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
Ride as if you're invisible

Assume that no one can see you - motorists, pedestrians, even other cyclists - and YOU will be in complete control of every situation.

Anonymous's picture
<a href="http://www.OhReallyOreilly.com">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)
more advice

Mostly excellent advice given so far. Here's two more tips from experience I find personally beneficial:

Choose to ride down one way Avenues and Street instead of the two way/bidirectional traffic type. Yielding to the right of way is essentially does not happen with motos turning left.

While riding down a one way street, do so from the left side. Some have debated with me that cars are more likely brush past you with the idea they feel more confident doing so passing you on their right (driver's side). That has not been my experience and is something I've learned from a couple of bike messengers.

More importantly, the benefit of riding on the left is reducing the exposure and risk of being doored. (More motos are single occupancy than not and hence doors tend to open curbside more often).

That's not to say that I haven't been doored while riding on the left. I had such single incident though by a motorist on downtown Liberty Street who decided to park his car in the middle of the narrow road while leaving the engine running no less. Luckily I was traveling at a slow speed and the extent of my injury was a cut hand.

No apology given and instead complete insolence was conveyed to me by the driver. I know revenge is a dish best served cold, but in this case I'm sure he was quite surprised to find all the doors locked to his van and the keys still engaged in the ignition and a bunch of PO'd drivers behind him eager to get home from work.

Anonymous's picture
Evan Marks (not verified)
left side vs right side

Agreed, ride on the left on one-way streets. Conventional wisdom says ride on the right but experience has taught otherwise. Many more drivers seem to slow down for fear of scraping the right side of their precious FUVs on a parked car than slow down to avoid flattening one of those pesky cyclists.

Anonymous's picture
Bill (not verified)

"Watch out for busses. They often run red lights. And they pull out pretty wide when they're pulling away from a stop.

Look out for potholes and dogs.

Don't ride on the sidewalks (too much).

Don't go the wrong way down one way streets (too often)

Keep your eyes and ears open (except at night in central park where it can be really cool to ride with your ipod).

Don't be afraid to take over a lane of traffic rather than ride meekly on the side.

In central park, watch out for horsecrap, little kids on bikes, and Asians on rollerblades. Trust me on this one. Anticipate the worst and stay clear.

Don't get too alarmed if you hear a honk behind you. People are either pricks or they just want to let you know they're there. It can be very startling.

If you ride toe clips, you're insane (unless you're really great with them). If you ride clipless, better be good at popping out of them.

Have fun - it can be a blast!

And lastly, the middle finger is just our way of saying ""Howdy!""
"

Anonymous's picture
Isaac Brumer (not verified)

"Assuming you know how to ride in the streets of your previous city, you probably know how to ride in NYC. Things are a bit more dense here, things happen quickly and our streets are a mess, so you need to pay attention and be ready to react. Ride far enough from swinging car doors. I recommend a rear-view mirror.

A great all-around resource for cycling in the city is Transportation Alternatives' web site http://transalt.org/info/cycling.html ""TA"" is one of NYC's cyclist advocacy organizations, is very active and professionally run. I encourage you to join and support it.

Finally, come on out and ride with the NYCC. You'll meet great people and get the opportunity to learn more about cycling in the area. We run an unmatched training program each spring. - http://www.nycc.org/rides_sig.shtml"

Anonymous's picture
Lewis (not verified)

"""
In central park, watch out for horsecrap, little kids on bikes, and Asians on rollerblades. Trust me on this one. Anticipate the worst and stay clear.
...
And lastly, the middle finger is just our way of saying ""Howdy!""
""

I guess I can give you the middle finger whenever I see you. BTW, I'm Asian.

Lewis"

Anonymous's picture
Debbie Rothschild (not verified)
NYC riding

"Raz - Welcome. I hope you realize that Bill is in no way representative of NYCCers or NYers in general.
And Bill, ""Asians on rollerblades""? Not only totally offensive and racist, but what the hell are you talking about?"

Anonymous's picture
Yogi (not verified)
lessons to be learned

It still surprises me that professedly intelligent people don’t know /or don’t care that racial stereotype (even when they’re INaccurate) in a public forum can/ does offend people (of different races).

Yogi-
-way below average computer programmer.

Oh, and about riding in nyc-
Somewhat related post from a month ago.
http://www.nycc.org/mb/Thread.aspx?B=1&T=2733&TP=1#Top

Anonymous's picture
Bill (not verified)

I proudly embrace your conclusion that I am not representitive of NYCCers and NYers.

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)
Good advice

Sageful advice here above.

Ride on the left of 1 ways also becasue that is the driver's side. His left side-view mirror is used more and you will more likely be seen.

Watch ahead for people entering cars, cars parking, brake lights of parked cars, exhaust - these are tell-tale signs of the possibility of a door opening.

Anonymous's picture
seth (not verified)
here's how its done Raz

http://www.digave.com/videos/red-web.mpg

Looks like fun huh?

Also, keep an eye out for the Black Label Bike Club mutant bike festivals. I think there's one coming up this fall. It's the most fun I've had since seeing Rest In Pieces, Killing Time and Cro Mags back in the mid 80s.

Anonymous's picture
lisa (not verified)
bad remark

I am asian too and don't care for the racial comment Bill made. If you live in NYC how could you say such a thing?

Anonymous's picture
Bill (not verified)

Ok, I apologize and didn't mean to offend. Then again perhaps you might all lighten up. Sorry I didn't enclose my message with the appropriate tags indicating sarcasm. Perhaps I might ask how you live in NYC and have no sense of humor?

But my point is that for whatever reasons, out of the many rollerbladers of all persuasions who can't roll straight and don't wear helmets, a higher than average percentage of them are Asian.

Anonymous's picture
Lewis (not verified)
oh well

"""
Ok, I apologize and didn't mean to offend.
Then again perhaps you might all lighten up.

Sorry I didn't enclose my message with the appropriate tags indicating sarcasm.
Perhaps I might ask how you live in NYC and have no sense of humor?

But my point is that for whatever reasons, out of the many rollerbladers of all persuasions who can't roll straight and don't wear helmets, a higher than average percentage of them are Asian.
""

Do you realize what you wrote? Do you understand the usage of BUT, PERHAPS and THEN AGAIN? They negate the sentence before them. Please, if you want to apologize, at least make it sound genuine. If you want to stick to your original claim, then please don't fake an apology.

Get back to the topic of riding in NYC, as a bike commuter, my advice is always prepare to smile, to nod, to wave, to say ""thank you"" and ""execuse me"". Yes, you have to prepare to raise your voice too. Always ride with confidence, be steady, be visible and be patient. Using your middle finger as saying ""howdy"" will turn you into a NYC statistic in no time. You won't even make it to the evening news. Manhattan is a small crowded Island that has nowhere to expand. It has its beauty and its darkside. Remember, if you look for evil, you will find evil. Instead, you can focus on finding those little good things that make our city special, our life enjoyable. Yes, cars do yield at stop signs, kids in the school bus do say hi and cheer for you in the morning. If you slow down a bit and look at that little kid on that BMX bike with a smile and a hello, you might even mistaken seeing yourself many years back.

Lewis

"

Anonymous's picture
Yogi (not verified)
Funny Apology

"
i AM a NY'er and I love a good sense of humor. It’s quite amusing to see someone insert foot deeper into own mouth.

To paraphrase an old Chinese proverb, "" It’s better to remain silent and to be thought a stupid and ignorant racist, than to keep typing and remove all doubt.""

Please read up on Jimmy the Greek and Marge Schott, They were both hilarious in public.
"

Anonymous's picture
linda (not verified)
Lighten up everyone

"Bill's initial post is perhaps not politically correct but certainly very funny and everyone needs to lighten up a bit.

As an Italian-American we are often the subject of many a stereotypical portrayal - but I really don't care. If you were to go by The Godfather, Goodfellas and The Sopranos then I suppose you would assume that every Italian is in the mafia. But obviously some Italians really are...Its not who I am...and those are brilliant pieces of drama.

My surname is quintessentially Italian. Used to portray everything from a misogynistic gimpy street hustler to a bad girl gang member. They're not me either - but people always bring up one of the two to me. Its really very amusing.

As far as I'm concerned every rollerblader in the park is a hazard. I've come close to slam-dunking several of them to the ground as they shoot out in front of my bike without warning. I find that its cross-cultural and usually fat rollerbladers with headphones.

And so it goes.

""If you can't laugh at yourself, then who can you laugh at"" - Tiger Woods

"

Anonymous's picture
Lewis (not verified)

"I don't know about you. I don't find grouping horse [email protected] and Asians on rollerblade funny in this context. ""All Italians are gangsters"" is a pretty obvious joke. I don't think ""Beware of dog [email protected] and Italians when you try to find a place to sit in the park. Trust me on this one, they both stink"" is. See, then, I can justify my statement by saying that ""nearly all"" of those fat smelly garbage collectors and construction workers are Italians. The fact is, he offended me and some others in a public forum and I have yet to see him come up with a genuine apology. If that's the way he is, that's fine with me. He certainly do not deserve any respect in my world. Arrogance is not a virtue.

PS The statements I made above about Italians, construction workers and garbage collectors are merely used to stress a point. I apologize if I offended anyone. They don't represent my view in real life."

Anonymous's picture
linda (not verified)
Now, now...

"' ""All Italians are gangsters"" is a pretty obvious joke. I don't think ""Beware of dog [email protected] and Italians when you try to find a place to sit in the park. Trust me on this one, they both stink"" is. See, then, I can justify my statement by saying that ""nearly all"" of those fat smelly garbage collectors and construction workers are Italians.'

My, my how easily you were able to say all that - apology notwithstanding. Although I do have to say that I would rather be deemed a bad rollerblader than fat & smelly.

BTW - your analogy is not a good one - please try to do better next time ;-)

"

Anonymous's picture
Lewis (not verified)

hahah.. okay, here's a better one for you :)

Ok, I apologize and didn't mean to offend. Then again perhaps you might lighten up. Sorry I didn't enclose my message with the appropriate tags indicating sarcasm. Perhaps I might ask how you live in NYC and have no sense of humor?

But my point is that for whatever reasons, out of the many fellow Americans who are fat and smelly, a higher than average percentage of them are Italians.

Anonymous's picture
linda (not verified)
Youse aren't gettin' the point

'Ok, I apologize and didn't mean to offend'

Please reread my post - I'm not offended. Amused, but not offended. I'm certainly not fat, but I have definitely been smelly, especially after a particularly long run or ride in NYC summer heat & humidity.

'Perhaps I might ask how you live in NYC and have no sense of humor?'

I think I have a great sense of humor - and my boyfriend and co-workers think so too. I find it especially funny when Lewis Black rags on the Republicans (anyone want to bite on that comment ?).

'But my point is that for whatever reasons, out of the many fellow Americans who are fat and smelly, a higher than average percentage of them are Italians.'

Now...I see you are trying to bait me...but you need to be really clever in order for that to happen ;-) Try again later.

Anonymous's picture
Lewis (not verified)

"Linda, I knew you were not offended. You missed the point though. Do you think I really typed those? If you read higher up, you will realize that I merely copied Bill's ""apology"" over with a few change of words to again, stress a point. Your sense of humor has nothing to do with this."

Anonymous's picture
Bill (not verified)

">> I don't think ""Beware of dog [email protected] and Italians when you try to find a place to sit in the park. Trust me on this one, they both stink"" is. <<

You've drawn your own association here and put words in my mouth. I never indicated any relation between horse sh#t or japanese tourist rollerbladers or little kids on bikes other than what I wrote. You've decided that my intention was to set up the connection that they all stink. I merely looked at it like they're all things I try not to hit while riding my bicycle in the park. No such stinkage is implied.

Although this thread is starting to stink with the exception of that video which was AMAZING!

"

Anonymous's picture
Yogi (not verified)
Really off topic

">As an Italian-American we are often the subjects of many a stereotypical portrayal - but I really don't care.

You would care a little bit more if someone with less skill and sensibility than Coppola, or Scorsese were behind those portrayals. I’m a huge fan of Chase’s Sopranos, but if someone (especially non–Italian) posted something about Italians in a mixed subject MB, (you might not, but) I’m sure you would get people jumping all over it too. There are African Americans who think Chris Rock’s material is offensive, could you imagine a white person doing his act? As far as I know Mr. Bill is not Asian. Racial remarks in cyberspace deserve much less slack because one is never quite sure what the intentions are behind the words. (We’re still not sure what he meant)

>Bill's initial post is perhaps not politically correct but certainly very funny and everyone needs to lighten up a bit.

He’s initial comment was neither very PC nor accurate, innocuous at best.
In his attempt to explain his reasoning in the ""Apology"", he made matters much worst for himself.

>""If you can't laugh at yourself, then who can you laugh at"" - Tiger Woods

I'm pretty sure TW (don't know his act), who used to be the Lance Armstrong of Golf (cycling reference), wasn’t the first to say it.

Mr. Bill didn’t write to watch out for him on Rollerblades. Trust me on this one.

-Yogi
love most things Italian, but we invented spaghetti.
"

Anonymous's picture
Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
NY conundrum: obedience to the law vs. obedience to instinct.

I had never considered riding on the left until reading these several posts and they do make a good argument/seem to make sense.

The rub is the law requires that we ride on the far right or as far right as possible while avoiding danger.

So here is a basic conflict in riding in NYC: obedience to the law vs. obedience to instinct.

Anonymous's picture
<a href="http://www.OhReallyOreilly.com">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)
spirit of the law

The rub is the law requires that we ride on the far right or as far right as possible while avoiding danger.

Likewise the same is true of NJ motor vehicle code which both notably contain such omission in consideration of one way streets. Such motor vehicle code was obviously written by someone in Albany and Trenton (e.g. one-ways less common). I don't think any competent judge (or cop) would misinterpret the true intention of such MV code. Do you?

Anonymous's picture
Fixer (not verified)
Left is Lawful

I believe that law says that on a one way street of a certain width (40 fee, IIRC) you can ride on either side.

I've always ridden on the left. Since you're closer to the driver, he's more likely to see you, and less likely to misjudge his distance from you.

But mostly, it keeps you from having to play leapfrog with the busses.

Anonymous's picture
xxx (not verified)
left in NYC is lawful on one way streets

As a case in point, note that the marked bike lanes on 4th, 5th & 6th Ave. (and several other streets) are on the left.

Anonymous's picture
Paul (not verified)
On the blight side

Hey ferrow asians...at reast Mr. Birr didn't carr us olientars.

Also considering that ice skating and roller blading are very similar...I guest Michelle Kwan, Yuka Sato, Lu Chen, Midori Ito, Nari Nam, Patrice McDonough (Korean girl with American last name), Tiffany Chin, and that Japanese woman who is the current world champion are exceptions to the rule.

Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
Scottish, surely?

Surely Patrice McDonough's last name is Scottish. And what has any of this got to do with cycling? Precisely nothing, but this is the NYCC message board, after all.

Anonymous's picture
Yogi (not verified)
What's race gots to do with it?

It has to do with cycling in that Mr. Bill still holds to the statement that Asians are more dangerous than other people on roller blades. Or for some reason he is more annoyed at tourists from Japan more than other countries. I’m guessing Paul is giving examples to the contrary, and Bill has no response to it.

For the people who are still unclear about all the hubbub.

His statement is no more/less erroneous or offensive than if he had said-

When riding a bike in NYC, watch out for-

The homeless Jews lying around on the streets, or
The Black moms in the double parked SUV’s picking up kids from school, or
The drunken Irish stumbling out of Barney Rocks, or
The English walking out onto the streets after a fine meal of English cuisine.

Bound to raise a few eyebrows and comments.

Anonymous's picture
spew (not verified)

Homeless Jews?
Fine English cuisine?!

Even a drunken Irishman would wonder what planet you live on!

Lighten up. I've almost run over a few tourists of Asian descent myself. There does seem to be a great deal of them that skate like its their first time. I wish they'd make _everyone_ wear helmets when they use those things.

Anonymous's picture
Yogi (not verified)
voice of reason?

"Dear Spew (Please leave me out of this):

No one dragged your sorry ass in here!

""Homeless Jews?
Fine English cuisine?!
Even a drunken Irishman would wonder what planet you live on!""

Exactly!

>There does seem to be a great deal of them that skate like its their first time.

I guess non-Asians become experts on skates immediately.

Thank you for you input.
"

Anonymous's picture
Bill (not verified)

"Perhaps you're a little uptight. Or perhaps I struck a nerve which believe me I had no intention of doing. I didn't write anything that infers the same connections as your list. You read that into it.

So there are great Japanese ice skaters. What does that have to do with tourists in central park? I didn't say it's genetic!

Whatever tour book says under ""Things to do in NY: rent skates at the boathouse"" should be ammended to include IN EVERY LANGUAGE the following: Always wear a helmet. Don't ride down the middle of the roadway wobbling back and forth. If you can't stay vertical without waving arms wildly, you should find a quiet spot on the side to practice. And lastly watch out for horse crap, little kids, and maniacs on bicyles.

"

Anonymous's picture
Yogi (not verified)
Another apology?

"I’m not sure if this is another attempt, but by stating the offend party is a ""Uptight"" is not a good way to start. Hey, I’m not the only one here Bill, other non-Asians found your remark ""Racist and offensive"", remember. I'm only trying to clarify a touchy subject.

>""What does that have to do with tourists in central park?""

You tell me."

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