My First Bike Commute Over the East River

"Necessity is the mother of convenience" is what I found to be true this morning as I rode for the very first time from my home in Crown Heights all the way to Union Square in Manhattan.

To experienced bike commuters, this would be nothing to brag about. But while a frequent cycler around my home in Brooklyn, I had always been intimidated by the thought of crossing the big river into "the city." I had envisioned hours of pedaling, perhaps too much for my weak back. I saw little old me being crushed by unfriendly Manhattan traffic, (even though when I lived in Chelsea I cycled without a problem.)

I was able to do it this morning because I didn’t plan to. Down with planning! As I should know as a parent, big tasks are easier when broken into parts.

First I cycled my almost three year old son Max to his daycare center at 5th Avenue and St. Johns Place. Then I cycled over to Brooklyn Heights to drop off something that had to be there today. Then the plan was, I’d lock my bike up and take the subway to my office at Union Square.

But once in Brooklyn Heights near Borough Hall, I said to myself, "Gee, you’re so close now. Why not try cycling to work?" As is my tendency, I talked myself into it despite still feeling intimidate, and I soon found myself pedaling across the Brooklyn Bridge, having remembered where the somewhat obscure pedestrian entrance is.

It was a lifetime moment, seeing the stony double naves of the historic Brooklyn Bridge above my handlebars as I pedaled on that wooden path, the towers of Wall Street off to my left. What a glorious moment!

After that, on the advice of a fellow cycler beside me, I pedaled up Centre Street to 4th Avenue and then up to Union Square, (after a quick detour for a first-time stop at Ninth Street Expresso, whose coffee was really as amazing as I had read about.) Once at the Con Edison building where the Regional Plan Association have their offices, I locked my bike to a lousy bike rack Con Ed provides inside their fenced-in parking lot, and walked inside. Piece of cake!

I could definitely see doing it again. It takes me about 45 minutes on the subway, including walking time. I could see cycling being very competitive with that. What other challenges have I been putting off because I supersized them in my mind?

Photo: Seth Holladay / Flickr

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