Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Weekly Tally #8 plus New York bike lanes

Here's the quick stats for last week:

walking:  15.4 miles
biking:  34.2 miles
car (zipcar): 450 miles

We drove, via Zipcar, to visit family and friends in Connecticut and New York this weekend.  Normally, we'd use a rental car from this airport for a weekend trip, but the car rental companies jack up the rates to double the normal during the summer.  We were able to get a Zipcar for $237.04 for Friday 2pm - Sunday 2pm (it ended up being a two-day rental, plus extra mileage charges and tolls), whereas a standard rental company was charging more than $205 for the two days, but we'd had to have purchased gas, which would have cost about $50.  Zipcar included gas, let us rent a Hybrid (Honda Civic that got 45 mpg) and a was a LOT more convenient (plus we like Zipcar better as a company).

Normally, we'd take the train from New Haven (where we were staying) into NYC for the day, but the fares were running $14 each way.  For four of us, that means we'd spend $112 for tickets, plus subway fares, and a lot of time.  Driving meant paying tolls and probably paying to park.  But we were certain to pay less than $100 for parking.  On a weekday, traffic would have made the train the easy choice, but on a Saturday morning, we knew traffic probably wouldn't be a big factor.

So we drove into the City.  Found a free parking spot on the street in front of our friends' building.  So we came out more than $100 ahead for the day.  In terms of carbon emissions, it wasn't the greatest choice, but driving the Hybrid helped a little (perhaps).

One big surprise on this visit to New York was all the bike lanes they've added.  I saw more bikes than I'd ever seen in NYC before, and also found a fun new bike shop (that might, sadly, be temporary) on Charles Street in the West Village.
(you can see the painted green bike lane above)

Some the bike lanes were kind of narrow (and maybe a little scary), but lots of them looked great, and a few of them used a model that I wish they'd use here in Boston.  Instead of the setup being:  sidewalk, parked cars, bike lane, car traffic, it was set up like this:  sidewalk, bike lane, parked cars, car traffic.  I'm sure there are lots of pluses and minuses to this setup, but I really like how it protects the bike riders, and creates a space that can be plowed in the winter time.  The big disadvantage would seem to be what happens if someone parks in the bike lane, then there's a big roadblock to the cyclist.

I'm guessing that NYC bikers have the same problem we have in Boston, even with bike lanes, and that's lack of bike parking.  It's great to be able to get someplace by bike, and I think NYC seems especially bikable--it's flat and laid out in a grid--but you need someplace secure to park your bike when you get there.

Still, it was exciting to see New York embracing the bike.  I hope more cities follow the trend.

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