Just something quick I put together after this morning’s incident. It would mean the world to me if people took the couple seconds to check that it’s safe before swinging a door open.
Did anyone else bike in NYC today? It was insanely windy. I had a really difficult time biking. But, although at times I was tempted to get off the bike and walk it a little, I biked the whole way. I didn’t bike home though. Besides for the fact that it was really windy, I don’t have a headlight right now and it was kind of dark when I was ready to go so I didn’t think it was safe.
Twice today I had to brake hard (because cars pulled off to the side right in front of me without signaling or anything). Both times I stopped in time but my rear tire skid, and it kind of felt like the tire came off the wheel. It was scary. If anyone can tell me why this happened, and/or how to fix it I would appreciate it :)
“Ride like you are invisible and motorists are blind.” (Lili Merritt, Bicycling magazine, March 2012). So true, at least I talk from experience in NYC. So many times drivers will pretend I just don’t exist.
I had to take a little break from biking. When it snowed two weeks ago I figured it was time to change my brakes but what I bought was not a brake shoe, it was just a brake pad that fits into a brake cartridge. I had to order new brakes. I had already taken the old ones off and didn’t want to put them back on so I couldn’t bike until the new ones came. Yesterday morning I put my new brakes on. It took me a while to figure out how to get them in the exact right spot. First it was too low and not even touching the rim. Then it was too high and hitting the tire, but I finally got it right. And they work so well, I only have to touch the brake and the bike stops. It also feels so good to go out on my bike and know that I made it work that way :) But, yesterday something annoying happened as well-someone stole the rear light off my bike. When I lock my bike I take my airhorn and headlight with me, but the rear light was screwed on and I never thought that would be a problem. I got out of class yesterday and it was dark. I tried to turn my light on and suddenly realized it wasn’t there. Someone had cracked it off :( Now I won’t be able to bike at night until my new light comes. I don’t think it’s safe without a light and also I think you could get ticketed for that in NYC. I’m thinking of getting a light on my helmet, and putting just the reflector back on my bike.
This morning I read about a biker who was killed by an 18-wheeler truck that was making a turn and didn’t notice the biker (http://bostonbiker.org/2011/12/28/cyclist-killed-in-collision-with-18-wheeler-in-cambridge/). About an hour later on my commute I saw it almost happening. I was biking on Flushing Ave. alongside the Brooklyn Navy Yard. There are trucks entering and exiting there all the time. There was a biker a little bit ahead of me and a truck to our left that was slowly creeping into the bike lane to turn into the Navy Yard. I watched as he almost crushed the other biker until the guy yelled. The truck stopped merging. I did not want to risk anything so I let the truck make the turn before I continued. This will not make me stop biking. I’m just letting the world know I am afraid of trucks on the road.
Today also happened to be my coldest bike ride yet-25°F. Apparently what I wore when it was 30° is not enough. I wore my hood under my helmet to keep my ears warm, which worked great. For the most part, after the first five minutes I stayed warm. Except for my thighs. I need to buy those heat tech leggings from Uniqlo.
Three people asked me today if it was dangerous/I wasn’t afraid to bike on NYC streets so I feel like addressing this. Yes, it is dangerous to bike in NYC. I would never say it isn’t (unless you are only biking on the greenways on either the east or west side of Manhattan, and walk your bike to get there). You constantly have to be on high alert because it is so easy to get run over. Yesterday I was almost run over by a bus because I was coming quickly downhill and I wasn’t braking quick enough. Cars, and especially taxis, will pretend they don’t notice you, or wish you weren’t there, and think they have the right of way. This morning I was biking down Washington Ave in Brooklyn. Right before Washington Ave hits Atlantic Ave there is a little fork so cars turning right onto Atlantic can split off. The street directly past Atlantic was closed to cars for construction, so at the last minute the car ahead of me moved over to the right without signaling, just as I was about to get into his blindspot. These things happen. NYC drivers are unpredictable.
All that being said, I feel that if you are biking in NYC you need to get above that fear. Try to be as safe a biker as you can be and not think about the danger in a way that would freak you out. Fear doesn’t get you anywhere, ever. And it’s really not that difficult once you get into it and figure your way around.