I heard Janine before I saw her, thanks to the dance music coming out of some decent speakers mounted on her Workcycles Dutch bike. I only had time to take a quick snap right there in the 2nd Ave bike lane. Fortunately we later got in touch by email and Janine was nice enough to answer a couple of questions about biking in NYC.
How did you start cycling in NYC?
“I don’t know really. I didn’t have any friends who commuted by bike at the time (though I’ve made quite a few since I started). While I don’t think I’d be out there now if it weren’t for groups like Bike NY and Transportation Alternatives or people like JSK [Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan], and all the messengers and commuters who carved out space for me and/or helped get bike lanes put in place, I can’t say that I noticed the infrastructure before I started using it. All I know is that one day, I wanted a bike.”
What is your daily commute like?
“I live in Washington Heights and work across the street from Grand Central. In the mornings, I commute to work via the Hudson River Greenway and then head across town on 44th. In order to avoid the monster hills when you exit the Greenway at 158th or 181st, I travel home via 8th ave to Central Park West, continuing along Frederick Douglass Boulevard and St. Nicholas Avenue.”
What’s the best thing about getting around NYC by bike?
“Utility cycling adds a little treat and the possibility of micro-adventures before and after whatever you’re doing. Because I always have my tunes with me, I’ve gotten to play DJ to a few crosswalk dance parties, for example. Even if it’s a route you take all of the time, you’ll see something different every time. It being NYC, this is true of the Subway too, but on bikes, I always get a seat and I see much more sky.”
What would you most like to change about the experience?
“It’s hard to say. So much of the experience is based on the rider. I want to see more women out there. I’d like to see more people hit the brakes when pedestrians have the right of way (it’s the world’s cheapest ego boost; brake for a red and the pedestrians will look at you as if you’re a hero. Many say thank you). I wouldn’t mind never seeing another person riding against traffic. I’d like to see the NYPD get serious about policing traffic violations.”
Any other thoughts about bikes in New York?
“I feel that the bike has really opened the city up for me. When I first moved here 12 years ago, every time I hit a new neighborhood, I’d see all of these new things I wanted to do and places I wanted to go. The bike has rekindled those feelings because now I go through those neighborhoods that I used to just travel under. The Greenway is old hat to most cyclists, but I still remember the first time I rode it. I was like, ‘how long has this been here!?’ And, ‘wait a minute, are those hawks?'”