Sometimes I ride down to the Canarsie Pier, as I did today. It's on the South Shore of Brooklyn, along the Greenway that connects Howard Beach to Sheepshead Bay and parallels the Belt Parkway as it winds along the beaches and coves of the Atlantic Ocean and Jamaica Bay.
At just about any time of year, in any kind of weather, at pretty much any hour of the day or night, people--usually older men--fish off the pier:
In my time, I've seen plenty of guys fishing off piers and bridges. The ones I see on the piers seem to have a mutual non-acknowledgment pact with cyclists. The ones on bridges, on the other hand, are often resentful or simply hostile toward cyclists. That may have something to do with the fact that on bridges, we tend to pass closer to them than we do on piers, as the walkways on most bridges (where cyclists usually ride and fisherman cast their lines) are only a few feet, if that, wide.
It seems that the worlds of cycling and fishing, at least in urban or suburban settings, exclude each other, whether or not by design. Sometimes I see men riding bicycles to their fishing spots. But they aren't riding to take the ride; the bike is strictly is a means of transportation and portage. As often as not, their fishing poles are strapped or even taped to the top tubes of their bicycles.
Perhaps some of those fisherman resent or envy those of us who are cycling for its own sake, or for training. After all, even if we have to put down payments on our bikes and pay them in installments before we pedal them, we have lifestyles--and, with it, access to the means, or whatever will get us the means, to buy a nice bike. Most of the fishermen (Most are male.) are poor and/or working class; many have families they are supporting in full or in part. And most of them, at least in this area, are members of racial and ethnic minorities. At the Canarsie Pier, as in other fishing spots in this city, they are usually Caribbean or Latino. On the other hand, most cyclists, including yours truly, are white. Even those who are Caribbean, Latino or from other minority group tend to be a bit better off, financially as well as socially, than those who are fishing.
Hmm...Could it be that this city's class structure can be delineated according to whether someone fishes or rides a bicycle?