So, lo and behold, there I was walking down Broadway the other night when I saw, smack in the middle of the road, an island of greenery. This is unusual for an area of Manhattan known more for cars, flashing lights, theaters, hot-dog vendors, and honking horns.
In part of his effort to make the city more pedestrian and cyclist friendly, Mayor Bloomberg has started shutting down some of the major thoroughfares, Broadway especially, for cars and trucks. Great, I thought, I’m going to cycle this. And I did. The following day I got on my bike and rode all the way from 57th Street, through Times Square, to Chelsea. That’s several kilometers that now has a cycling lane dedicated to YOU. In a city where the taxi cab is king, queen, and mostly jester, this is a godsend. Until recently bikes in the city meant those horrendous messengers on two wheels who disobeyed red lights and traveled at 100kph. Deaths sometimes happened (I kid you not). For the rest of us, we had to stick to the sidewalk and endure the looks only New Yorkers know how to give. But now it’s all changed.
And believe me, there is nothing quite as exhilarating as being able to take in the famous buildings of Manhattan with the wind blowing through your hair, a 360-degree view. Along the way, especially around Times and Herald squares, and near the Flatiron Building, there are newly added little tables and chairs (the kind you find in the Tuileries in Paris), all for visitors to park out on.
So anyone coming to New York, think of renting a bicycle and heading down one of the many new bicycle routes or along the river (you can virtually circumnavigate the island on bike tracks now). Most bike shops rent, as do the guys hanging around Columbus Circle. Go ahead, freewheel it!