Why Eldrid Rides

Enjoy this special Tuesday installment of Streetsblog’s Why I Ride series.

bike portrait by dmitry gudkov
Photo copyright Dmitry Gudkov

Eldrid was born in Hawaii and moved to Queens after getting out of the Air Force in the 1960s. He bought his first New York bike, a light-weight 3-speed, shortly thereafter. A tinkerer and collector, he’s had two or three bikes in various states of repair at any given time since then. Cycling has become an increasingly important part of his life. At 73, he suffers from serious arthritis and can no longer walk long distances. “I used to swim a lot but now that’s hard too. Riding my bike is the only way for me to get any kind of intensive exercise.”

Nearly every day, he drives from his home in Jackson Heights to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, takes the bike out of the trunk, and pedals through the park. It is one of the few places in the city he feels comfortable riding. “I prefer to stay away from car traffic. Prospect Park, Central Park, they’re okay, but this is the only place that never allows cars.” He does ride in the street every once in a while, on the 34th Ave bike lane in Queens, but often finds it blocked by double-parked cars. “Then I just ride around, usually on the sidewalk.” Eldrid thinks that folding bikes, compact and portable, are a great option for the city. He also doesn’t believe in spending a lot of money on bikes. “I grew up poor, so I usually buy the cheapest thing and fix it up if I need to.” This was the case with the folding bike pictured here — Eldrid used parts from another bike to replace the suspension and the gears. “It’s a piece of junk,” he says. “But it’s keeping me alive.”

  • Joe R.

    I’m tempted to show this to my mom. I’ve been wanting to get her to learn how to ride a bike for ages. He’s the same age as her with a lot of the same ailments. My mom has a lot of pain walking. She can still walk a few miles, but it takes a long time and she pays for it the next night. Going by bike (or trike if she can’t learn to balance) would make it much easier.

  • Anonymous

    Tons of bicyclists at the Flushing Meadows park!  I was heading to the US Open and thought I had stumbled into a bicycle festival.  People of all ages on bikes!  

  • Station44025

    I love his folder! Looks awesome. I wonder how many more people would be riding if they felt safe on the streets? We still have such a long way to go to make cycling work in ny for everyone who might do it.

  • carma

    its foldie!!!

  • JamesR

    This is a nice piece and it’s great to see someone able to stick with cycling at an advanced age, but this:

     “Then I just ride around, usually on the sidewalk.”

    is troubling and shouldn’t be condoned by anyone.