Why John Rides

Here’s the third portrait in Streetsblog’s weekly “Why I Ride” series.

Photo copyright Dmitry Gudkov.

John is a paramedic with FDNY EMS in Harlem. He often gets to work from Brooklyn by bike, or a combination of bike and train. He and two other EMT colleagues at the station house are regular bike commuters.

For him, cycling is generally a more dependable way to make it in time for his 4-12 shift. He also just enjoys being outside, whether it’s on bike or on foot. “New York is a really walkable city, but of course you can’t cover much distance,” he says. “So about 20 years ago, I started biking.”

What changes has he seen? “The city was a lot less bike friendly then. Not as many bike lanes, not nearly as many people riding.”

On the topic of bike friendliness, talk turned to the current NYPD cyclist ticketing campaign. Turns out John has seen it all before. “I remember the last one, under Giuliani. It’s pretty similar to what’s happening today. At least now we have some more bike lanes.”

  • Anonymous

    So, wait, are you saying this guy is a Real New Yorker? Great pic, btw.

  • These just get better and better.

  • Eric McClure

    “The city was a lot less bike friendly then. Not as many bike lanes, not nearly as many people riding.”

    How can that be true? The Cuozz says cycling growth is a lie.

  • Driver

    This is in no way a knock against John, but maybe it has something to do with the fact that the salary is low for NYC living. Those EMT’s deserve a lot of credit because they don’t get paid well enough for the type of work they do and the odd hours and inherent job risks they endure.
    I’m not sure if it’s 4-noon or 4-midnight, but either way, who wants to bike through sometimes questionable neighborhoods at 4 am or at midnight? Sure some will do it but its certainly not for everyone.

  • Gibby Dunn

    John may have the look, feel and sound of a “Real New Yorker.” But don’t be fooled. He’s not a Real New Yorker. If John wants to be a Real New Yorker, he’s going to need to start transporting himself in a 3-ton, Chevy Enchilada with a parking placard on the dashboard.

  • Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    I’m a real New Yorker even though I wasn’t born here.

  • I think it’s what’s called Tour III, or four-to-midnight. Perhaps working EMS in a low income (nothing questionable about that; it’s in the census) neighborhood at night has given him a pretty good perspective on the relative risks and rewards of cycling versus driving through those same neighborhoods. I can say from my own experience as an EMT that it has made me more cognizant that crashes can happen at any time and that the only way to avoid them is (as you mention in another thread) to be a 100% defensive driver.

  • Anonymous

    Me too! 😉


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