Before I departed Texas for New York, almost three years ago, I gave my car to charity (a measure of how disgusted with sitting in traffic, and the damage done to my old beater by the horrid physical conditions of the roads in and around Dallas). In New York, I made a wonderful discovery (after suffocating on the subway between smelly underarms, being canned like a fish on the city's overcrowded buses, and arriving horribly late to appointments and whatnot); the bicycle.
That wonderful memory of the first coming of age.
I habitually ride to and from Manhattan (usually no further than 59th St.-- the southern edge of Central Park), to my studio in Brooklyn. Although I have been doing so for a couple of years, it still makes me wonder how I beat the subway, and the buses on trips up to midtown. It takes me roughly twenty minutes to get to Central Park on my bike, whereas the subway's trip is a guaranteed half hour (not accounting for train delays, and passenger incidents). The buses take roughly 40 minutes to make the trip.
And the feeling of freedom is great. In a city so completely obsessed with space, a bike is a very hot commodity. A bike, where personal space can expand to engulf the drab monoliths whizzing by as they morph into grand palaces and inviting civic parks. A bike, where one can jockey with the iron will of New York taxi cabs-- and usually win! A bike, upon which last minute meetings and errands can be made considerably faster than the utilization of public transportation, without the headache and insult to the nose. A bike, where the wind slides cool fingers down heated flesh as you pass over the Manhattan, Brooklyn, Williamsburg, or 49th St. Bridge. Freedom manifest.
That is why bike ridership has increased in the city.
Oh, did I fail to mention that the MTA (metropolitan transit authority) is raising subway and bus fares?