New York City is a paradise for lovers of food, entertainment, recreation and culture — it’s a city that truly has it all. Yet there’s one thing that New Yorkers could probably do without: local transit gridlock.
Given its size and population, New York City is often a difficult place to navigate, whether you’re on streets, sidewalks or taking public transportation. An ever-changing list of road repair projects and transit disruptions (such as the upcoming 15-month L train shutdown) can making commuting — or even a simple grocery run — a bit of a headache.
There is one smart way, however, to avoid becoming ensnared in local transit issues: Taking up cycling.
With that mind, let’s take a closer look at several things that you should know before becoming a commuting New York cyclist.
Familiarize Yourself with the Basics
Becoming a New York City cyclist only requires getting a bike and heading for the streets, right? Not so fast. To do this safely, it’s imperative that you learn the rules of the road. New York City’s Bike Smart initiative is a great way to steep yourself in the essentials of safe riding.
Bike Smart will get you up to speed on local biking laws, provide you with a quick rundown of hand signals and teach you the fundamentals of navigating streets, making turns and storing your bike safely. Reading the Bike Smart online guide is a great way to “know before you go.” Another resource you may use is the FAQ’s found in this website. We have important insights into the various issues and laws which arise while cycling.
Take Advantage of Bike Sharing
Bike Sharing has exploded in popularity in recent years, making the pleasures of the road more accessible to everyone. New York City’s pioneering Citi Bike program allows you to unlock bikes at one of hundreds of locations around the city, pay for your trip (you can buy time in 30-minute blocks or spring for an unlimited annual membership) then return the bike to a docking station when finished.
In addition to Citi Bike, several private bike sharing companies have also entered the New York City market recently, expanding the benefits of cycling to those who don’t already own their own wheels.
Take Safety Precautions
New York City has purportedly become safer in recent years for cyclists, as the percentage of serious cycling injuries has gone down. According to recent Department of Transportation data, there were 4,397 cycling injuries caused by motor vehicles in the city last year, 24 of which resulted in fatalities. Additionally, there were 403 crash injuries involving pedestrians and cyclists, and 320 crash injuries involving just two cyclists. Though this appears to be concerning, it represents an improvement in certain data points.
Taking smart safety precautions is an important way to avoid becoming a serious injury statistic. New cyclists should wear a crash-rated helmet and used reflective lights during dawn, dusk and night hours.
When you’re trying to avoid gridlock and travel safely, it’s always smart to plan ahead. For a list of real-time street closures due to construction, check out this useful online resource provided by city government.
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