Bicycling

 

The best transportation in Manhattan is the bicycle. You always have the subway, and the streets above are paved with cabs, but the quickest way to get around this island is by personal velocity.


I have carried my fifties bike up and down stairs. I have squeezed it into the elevator to my Soho loft. For two years, every biking day gave me a dose of holiday feeling. My commute could take 50 minutes, but the visual stimulation turned the daily tour into a form of interactive leisure. I surely supplied some visual animation of my own as well, seated on my metallic tower in my high heels and designer two-piece suit, looking left and right onto the finest view on wheels.


Most of my American friends did not share my enthusiasm. They saw only the danger. More than one treated me to some scary anecdotes (“. . . and then we saw that biker lying in the gutter staring up at us with such a sad look in his eyes. . .“), hoping that I would at least purchase a helmet. All I needed, they’d remind me, is a slip on an oil stain to add several new accessories to my European fashion statement.


And, little by little, the matter of safety slipped into my biker’s wardrobe. I acquired a flashy red helmet and funky blue gloves. My heels started to shrink dramatically. Goodbye, Belgian chic: here comes the casual me! With the purchase of a bike, I found myself not only in top condition, but with a new identity. The little metal basket attached to my steering wheel was still another personal upgrade for the 21st century, to host my laptop.


Part of the daily stimulation was the search for a creative spot to park. Where O where can I put my bike away? Answering the riddle requires a thorough strategy, for anything left out in New York is common goods. Investing in an unbreakable bike lock was therefore the first thing on my “to do” list. Biking, it was becoming clear, stimulates the economy.


Biking allows you to make a green statement as well – and of course the greenest celebration of the year is Earth Day. Each year, our bike rally even receives a police escort, invited or not. On that day, the police pedal past in tight racing pants. Once the bike patrol even reached my TV viewers, as I picked up my camera and interviewed the riders while biking alongside myself.


A little math clearly settles the matter, in favor of bicycling. Take the sum of the economic, ecologic, and social factors. Not much financial capital is required, a healthy mind in a healthy body adds nothing to urban air pollution, and immediate social contact is assured. Yet, for all that, one day I found myself a non-biker. I was obliged to separate myself from my green Esmeralda. This unhappy closure was not inspired by the uncounted taxi doors that opened up right in front of me. No, it came about through an unauthorized adoption by another bike lover.


And that, for now, has put a halt to my biker’s life. I have only an occasional visit to the trapeze school in Hudson River Park as compensation for my lost acrobatics at street level. On the other hand, the length of my heels has thrived as never before.

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