It’s a great thing that NYC Summer Streets was on for three consecutive Saturdays. After missing the first weekend due to a move, then the second weekend to timing error, I finally got a chance to check out festivities this past weekend—by bike, of course.
Summer streets is modeled after similar events like Ciclovia, in Bogotá, Columbia and other places; where blocks after blocks of city streets are closed off to cars.
NYC’s summer streets is by no means Ciclovia (they close off almost 70 miles of city streets!), but the nearly 7 miles spanning from the Brooklyn Bridge area, all the way up to E 72nd Street in Central Park is an exciting enough span of city streets to explore without worrying about cars.
M and I headed off from lovely Bushwick, all the way down Flushing Avenue, to Manhattan Bridge. Once crossed over, we snaked our way through Chinatown to hit the bottom rest stop at Foley Square.
Nothing quenches your thirst like awkwardly tasting, flavored coconut water, guys.
I got the peach and mango flavored coconut water which, surprisingly wasn’t too bad. Coconut water tastes a bit weird to begin with, and as M pointed out, it tasted better once it wasn’t so ice cold. (He got the pineapple flavor which was even weirder. I can’t imagine what the lemonade one tastes like…)
After we took a few sips of our fancy water, we got on our bikes and joined the throng of people enjoying the car-free route of Park Avenue.
And boy, there were a lot of people.
In a world…
Where NYC was like Copenhagen; where bikes and pedestrians ruled the land; where the city went on a massive road diet and transformed its landscape to a glorious utopia of bike-laden streets…
One can only dream of such a scenario, which I did while biking up the length of Park Avenue.
It was amazing to see all the people out on the street: tourists, locals, whatevers. All on a bike of some kind, or running, or speed-walking. Hundreds of bodies fluidly moving in the car-free space.
It was phenomenal. Ethereal even.
I was in a dream, guys. A fucking dream.
Made even the more unbelievable since M and I had just walked up and down Park Avenue a few days prior, talking architecture and visiting Grand Central.
And speaking of which!
Part of the route took us onto the Park Avenue Viaduct, which splits Park Avenue into east and west. It cuts through the Helmsley Building, and around Grand Central. That shit is amazing. To think that only automobiles go through this section is unreal.
Beating the Clock
Our mistake from the previous weekend was that Summer Streets ended at 1 p.m. We got to Foley Square around 10:30 a.m., so there was time to bike the length of the route to Central Park.
But having never biked all that way, we started turning our ride up Park Avenue into a race of sorts—against the clock and each other.
M’s bike is ridiculously fast compared to mine. A few pedal strokes for him is the equivalent to almost double of mine. Which is insane, so he was going a lot faster than I was, but I was enjoying the experience so I wasn’t biking purposefully fast to begin with.
But out of the funness of it all, he wanted to see how fast I could go. Once we got to a section where there weren’t very many people on the road, I hauled ass.
He kept up.
It turns out that I can go quite fast. Just takes more pedal power and RPM.
And we did beat the clock to Central Park.
The only problem was that we missed the rest stop, and ended up biking the park in its entirety!
We were dying of heat and thirst and hunger. We prevailed.
Also, it turns out that having a Camelbak is not only good for those who suck at staying hydrated with water bottles. It can also help you refill your water bottles when they don’t quite fit under the fountain. Amazing.
After a few stops, including a bathroom break near the Shakespeare Theatre, we finally made it down to Columbus Circle. Keep going, or take the train home?
We were feeling okay enough to keep going, so we took the 9th Avenue bike lane all the way down to 14th Street and First Avenue to catch the L train.
At first we were thinking of just taking the train over the bridge, and biking again from the Bedford Avenue stop, but I realized I wasn’t feeling too good from the heat. I could feel one of those heat headaches coming on. We took the train home.
Drink All the Waters
Sunburn on my thighs. Check. Even more tanning of my arms. Check. Noticeably more freckles on face. Check. Fun factor. Utopic.
I estimate my fluid intake that day was somewhere near 2 gallons, give or take a few ounces. I never drank so much fluids in my life.
Summer Streets 2016, here we come.
🚲 🚲 🚲 🚲 🚲
Total Mileage for the day: roughly 20 miles