Living in Brooklyn has given me an entirely new understanding of what it is to commute. My office is approximately 2.5 miles from my apartment. That doesn't seem that far, right? When I moved here, I was told that the bus was the fastest way to get there. There is a subway stop near work, but it isn't a subway line that has a stop near my house. When I first got here, I was walking to work. I do have a car here, but parking costs $10/day at work and that didn't make sense to pay that. Once the weather got better, I decided to try biking to work. I noticed a whole bunch of bikes locked up to the fences at work. Biking - 15-20 minutes, Walking - 50 minutes, Bus - 55 minutes, Driving - 15 to work, 40 on the way home.
This is where the fun begins. My first day biking, I felt like I was in a game of frogger. That's what it felt like at least. You feel like you have to not only dodge car doors opening on your right and left, car mirrors brushing your body because they don't notice you, and cars turning without signal indicators in front of you while you are flying down a hill at 20 miles an hour on a bike, but also have to watch out for the other bikers and pedestrians who don't notice bikes. It's like being controlled by a video game controller and you are just following what it says. My eyes are darting everywhere (and I was never very good at video games anyway) and trying to make sure I don't hit anyone or anything and I don't get hit.
This does remind me of the time I looked both ways before crossing a street in San Sebastien Spain during bike race trials, and still ended up stepping into a racing cyclist whose shoulder clothes lined me to the ground much to the chagrin of my other exchange students and the extreme fiery swearing spanish anger of the cyclist, but that is a story for another day.
My cruiser bike (it's a classic Schwinn that I love)
Amazon.com (you can choose a charity that benefits instead of just amazon) and shipping from china to the rescue. I ordered a package of two bike bells that night. I have two bikes here, one for cruising and one for faster travel (I used the faster bike for work). Three weeks later, one bike bell arrives. I put it on my cruiser bike and email the company to get another one since I ordered and paid for two.
When the new bell arrives, I can't get it to fit anywhere on my bike. It is clearly made for a smaller bike frame. Additionally, I notice that when I'm using the bell on my green cruiser bike, no one hears me anyway.
My road bike
But….after long and frustrating days and many people turning in front of me or opening doors…I've had to come up with something different. I know it isn't befitting a bow tied man riding a bike from work, but sometimes you just have to get people to pay attention. I've finally resorted to, "Ding, Ding, Muther Fu*%er!"
You'd be surprised at how well it works.