When, in the late 1880s, a plea scrawled on a note was plucked from a bobbing bottle in Wallabout Bay, the good men of the police force shook their heads. It was not the content that was mystifying: our dear specter Annie Walker wrote desperately that she had been taken and brought against her will onto a ship where she was treated, as a modest woman might say, “unkindly,” and that she needed so badly to be saved and brought home. This was an unfortunate symptom of the time, when the wild coast was seething with fear and anger, unmarked ships abounded on their journeys, and where one might alight with a horse-headed serpent in the seas whose waves we have now all but choreographed.
The stocky, mustached man stepped out from behind his counter to greet me as I entered, revealing a pair of lustrous bicycle shorts in the colors of the Ecuadorian flag. I dragged in a beaten blue bicycle, its wheels wrapped in a chain that kept it from rolling. I had carried it up on the R Train from City Hall, where I had extracted it from a nearby dumpster on Chambers Street.
Have you looked down your street to see the wavy lines coming up from the pavement, making two blocks down seem like a mirage? Have you stood on the lower platform at West 4th Street? Have you seen Do The Right Thing? I know the South has legitimate, thick humidity and the desert of course actually gets hotter than it does here. I would wager however, that there is a type of heat and level of summer discomfort specifically unique to New York.
The unicycle has long been a family member of the circus. Though it may have played the funny-looking little sibling to the shining star of the trapeze, everyone from the early to mid-20th century Valla Bertini Troupe to the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey circus has had unicyclists.
I joked about it. I called it Queens Times Square. Every time I told a new friend where I was living there was a predictable moment of hesitation and a laugh. I had found myself a nice little apartment right near 42nd and Broadway, thankfully free of the harsh light and the awful crowd of its eponymous twin.
Last Sunday marked the first official Big Apple Tweed — New York City’s inaugural tweed bicycle ride. Cyclists from as far as Harlem and Washington DC came together dressed in their tweed-inspired Sunday best. We met in Grand Army Plaza before embarking on our tour of Park Slope and Fort Greene. The ride culminated with a free buffet brunch at the lovely French-Moroccan bistro Kif.
We are New Yorkers because we walk. I don’t drive. I have been full of good intentions to get my driver’s license since I was sixteen, but only managed to let my learner permit slowly expire along with said good intentions. It will happen one day because I know that having a car and being able to drive is useful in some universe somewhere. However in New York, you don’t need to drive because we walk.
I pored over the maps, with their codes and symbols as prominent as the streets and buildings. Every inch was measured, it seemed, and everything rippled with information referenced and cross-referenced elsewhere. It was August of 2005, and I lived in New York City. For three months from having arrived out of school, this was my life: study the maps, learn the code, stay inside.
On May 6th, I attended “Bike Summit NYC 2010″, an event sponsored by the NYC’s month-long bike-centric series of events used to address biking in NYC. I was fashionably 10 minutes late – since I can’t afford nice clothes, tardiness is one way I express my cool sense of style. My experience at the bike summit, however, wasn’t what I expected.