Open Thread: How Was Your Commute This Morning?

How did you get to work, or try to get to work, this morning — subway, bus, bike, walking, telecommute? Let’s hear some commuting stories.

Here’s mine: After breakfast at Streetsblog Headquarters I walked in to my office and got to work.

OK, that was obnoxious. Apologies to the subway commuters.

I live on Union Street in Brooklyn, a somewhat busy through-street on any day, and the traffic and horn-honking this morning was unbelievable. Our 6-month-old, who sleeps in the front of the house, was woken up by car horns. My wife had a meeting up in Park Slope but the person she was meeting was a no-show due to the lack of subway service. Joanne reported that traffic was backed up from Fourth Avenue all the way up to Grand Army Plaza. Fourth Avenue heading northbound towards the Manhattan Bridge was also an absolute parking lot. Our older son had a dental appointment this morning. Joanne loaded him into the bike seat wearing his "bike hat" and Spiderman sunglasses and they had no problem getting to where they were going.

Despite the sub-tropical heat and humidity and the exhaust of a few hundred thousand cars idling in gridlock, it seems like it was a pretty good day to be a cyclist in New York City, except, perhaps, on the crowded Brooklyn Bridge walkway.

Share your commuting story…

  • v

    these are great stories. a little weird that anyone would get miffed at pedestrians crossing the brooklyn bridge. there were thousands of them…yeah, they’re going to spill into the bike lane, just like pedestrians spill onto canal when there’s no room on the sidewalks. all these people were not prepared for multi-hour commutes, and many had walked for miles. sheesh, give ’em a break.

  • Biked to work, no complaints. Although I was a little lonely when I got there.

  • Abba

    2-cents on the situation, then my intrepid commute story:

    Lee Sander and co. didn’t create the city’s drainage problem and 1900-era infrastructure that still characterizes most of the subway system, but they did inherit the moribund and brain-dead MTA customer service apparatus and have done nothing with it in 8 months on the job. It really wouldn’t be that hard to create a low-tech apparatus to get information around to every subway station in the system and train station staff to keep straphangers from paying fares for trains that aren’t going to come. Now we have mutes sitting there with a little scrawl on the white-board at best. There is a phone in every booth. Use it. Better still, give them a fax machine and send them comprehensive service announcements they can post on the booth glass, even if they refuse to leave it. The press wants to talk about the MTA’s web site but it’s the MTA personnel network that has no function, no one in charge, no urgency about telling us anything. Some committee of horrible bureaucrats is probably working on a fix for this system that is designed to be implemented in 27 years. Have any of the MTA lifers that let it get this bad been fired, demoted, put on car-cleaning crews? Has Sander moved the culture there one millimeter?

    * * * *

    Left at 6:45 for an early meeting. Still raining + business clothes = no bike commute. Disgusted looking people are already leaving the crowded G platform as I arrive – never a good sign. Station agent doing and saying nothing. Figure the departing riders are right and start walking down the bus route toward W’burg. One bus passes me 20 mins later as I’m getting to the Bedford L stop.

    I was at this intersection during 9-11 trying to get into work and the scene is reminiscent -everyone’s standing around the subway entrances talking on phones.

    Now I know it’s not a normal day and look for a car service. They’re tapped out but finally a B61 comes along that has a square inch in it. A lot of people get out under the W’burg Bridge to try the J-Z but I figure the odds are better in downtown Bklyn and stay on. After some traffic congestion along the BQE service road we get to Jay Street station and it’s open. A-C is toast but the F is running. I get across the river and debark at E. Broadway, then walk across downtown to the W. Side. Meeting has been canceled but I get to office by 8:40. Sounds a lot better than most but included long bus ride and about 40 mins of walking in two segments.

  • Yo

    Sewell Chan/City Room is the star of the MTA flood of 2007 – over 1,000 comments and stories today.

  • Davis

    Sewell is a machine. But 499 comments in one thread? I’ll stay here, thanks.

  • Fendergal

    My habit of dealing with spillover pedestrian traffic on the BB is to say things like “excuse me, pardon me, please” and say it with a tone and volume as if I’m on foot myself. It’s easier to do when you’re going slow, and you don’t have to yell to compensate for your speed. The longer I ride, the less yelling I do. Maybe I’m mellowing as I get older? Anyway, we’re all trying to get to work, school, whatever.

    Don’t hold your breath for the city or MTA to formulate an emergency plan.

  • P

    Exactly, Fendergal.

    I don’t think it’s necessary to get off your bike- but don’t scream at the pedestrians. And accept that they are going to probably spill over into the bike lane. A gentle reminder works.

  • Tuna Loaf

    Rode on a bus from Harlem to Canal Street. Took 2 hours. As far as I can tell, that’s not an unusual speed for a Manhattan bus.

    We need an effective traffic management plan in this city, and a coordinated plan for transit emergencies such as today’s. Being on a packed full bus that had to yield to merging single occupant vehicles, and seeing masses of people turned away from bus entry was pretty frustrating.

    If the subway fails, implementation and enforcement of bus priority on all major NYC avenues should be of primary importance.

  • Abbath

    I rode my bike from Park Slope. I yelled at pedestrians on the Brooklyn Bridge. Just like every day, duh!

  • Biked in an did not even realize anything had happened until co-workers started texting to say they would be in late.

  • offgrid

    I don’t commute, I just ride an ATB a lot between the West
    Village and the Battery. I rode today in–hands down–the
    worst traffic I’ve seen in five or six years cycling downtown.

    Drivers were crazed. Riders were crazed. I was crazed,
    riding sidewalks (albeit at walking speed) between Canal
    Street and Battery Park City (past cops on foot who
    sensibly ignored me) when not riding the wrong way on
    streets I ride other days, ‘most every day, pretty much
    obeying traffic laws. At Varick and Franklin I managed
    not to get my legs severed above the knee only thanks
    to the kindness of crazed drivers. This was not a proud
    day for me or for NYC.

    South Cove wasn’t even where I’d had in mind to go but, after
    stopping for a while to watch the folks who were getting
    ready to load the Moondance Diner on a flatbed, reportedly
    headed for Wyoming, scratch their heads, going the opposite
    direction from where I’d intended suited the day’s dynamic.

    One more lower Manhattan low-rise block about to claw the
    clouds. Marvelous big old ailanthus in the middle of that
    block. Trinity Real Estate’s remorseless frenzy to rid
    downtown of every last vestige of funky charm differs from
    Trump’s impulses only in the fig leaf of charity Trinity
    applies to its gentrification. The block where Trump’s first
    downtown monstrosity is rising also used to have a great
    tree, but someone else murdered it before he got the chance.

    Somehow, the weirdest part of the day was having missed the
    cloudburst that brought down the subways. I went to bed on
    any old hot summer night and slept through a meteorological
    event whose nasty effects I easily might not even have noticed.

  • Marcus

    I know most of the complaints about the MTA were about how the disruption was handleds service-wise, but just a note about it’s root cause from an engineering perspective.

    Several posts mentioned this as another symptom of poor infrastructure maintenance, but I don’t really think that is the case (the MTA already pumps millions of gallons of ground water out on dry days). Pumps and sewers are designed to accept certain volumes, and those are usually arrived at from design codes. Freak storms are just that, freak. Designing for this type of event would add hundreds of millions of dollars in cost to the system. I think in events like this we all need to freak out a little less, chill at home for a couple of hours while they pump the system out and then go to work. It’s one day out of how many years of your life?

  • jeremy

    So I was doored twice and got a flat avoiding a ups truck making a u-turn into me.

  • John Hunka

    Re: “Freak storms are just that, freak. Designing for this type of event would add hundreds of millions of dollars in cost to the system.” This was not necessarily a “freak” event. Scientists predict that rainstorms are becoming more intense as a result of global warming. If global warming really intensified this storm, storms of this magnitude could become common in the near future. Thus, maybe its time for the MTA to start installing a lot more pumps as soon as possible.

  • Gwin

    Offgrid: correct me if I’m wrong, but did you say you “normally” ride the wrong way up streets? Neither that nor riding on the sidewalks are good biking etiquette (or legal) under *any* circumstances.

  • usq

    Global warming is real and the current strategy is adaption and mitigation whether it’s large corporations, governments, or elected officials. It’s obvious that the MTA like so many others will have to reinvent itself much like Microsoft the emergence of the internet.

  • usq

    And, subways as hybrid-human electric transit are ridiculous!

  • Mine was the same as it is every morning. Minus the 1000 people on the bridge who acted like they were on a Nazi death march.

    Pedestrians walking 10 abreast, flailing their arms about, screaming and swatting their purses at cyclists. It was an annoyance to say the least.

    I ride into work everyday and with a 10 commute from Greenpoint to Nolita, I can’t complain. It takes 45 minutes by train to get from door to door.

    I still don’t understand why MORE people don’t just ride their bike everyday to work. At most, the average person’s commute can’t be more than 15 miles round trip.

  • Fendergal

    Most people I know think that 15 miles is really far. And depending on one’s commute, it could be a pretty unpleasant distance. Of course, a coworker who lives in Bed Stuy said to me on Wednesday, “I wish I had a bike.”

    But as a longtime bike commuter, I like having the choice between the train and the bike. Some days, I don’t want to ride. I have a lot to carry, it’s snowing, my legs are tired, I’m sick, whatever. But, over the years, I’m always much more satisfied riding than taking the train. And that’s having been caught in snowstorms and thunderstorms, slipping on slabs of ice, getting knocked down by another cyclist, you name it.

  • P

    Yeah, it’s unlikely that we’re going to get large percentages of people going more than 5 miles each way. Unfortunately, New York is a huge and centralized city with much of the workforce living more than 5 miles away from work- perhaps the distance you can go in a bit over a 1/2 hour.

    On the bright side- Harlem and Sunnyside are each 5 miles from Midtown while Sunset Park and Bushwick are 5 miles from Lower Manhattan. There’s no question there is growth potential for bicycle commuting. This doesn’t even consider the non-Manhattan employment centers.

  • steve

    Along with the usual reasons people don’t bicycle (danger, lack of perking, aversion to exercise), people don’t bicycle to work b/c they fear arriving at work sweaty/disheveled, and fear being perceived as “fringe.”. These last two barriers are very surmountable, people who do bike to work can help remove the stigma.

  • Dave

    Steve, how are they surmountable? I ride as much as I can to work but in the summer months I usually leave home earlier to get out while it is still cool, so I’m not too sweaty when I get to work.

    There is a gym at work with showers, but unfortunately, it is only open in the evenings. I think this will be changing soon, providing an obvious solution. But what can others do?

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