Yesterday, after co-leading a workshop in the Bronx, I had an errand in Chelsea. The ride, about sixteen kilometers, would have taken me across the 145th Street Bridge and up a couple of short but fairly steep climbs in the Sugar Hill and Strivers' Row sections of Harlem. Then I would descend, probably at 129th or 125th Street (Believe it or not, they intersect in the far western section of Harlem!), under the IRT Viaduct to the Hudson River Greenway, which I would have ridden down to 18th Street.
I followed the itinerary I've outlined up to the hill climbs. Yes, I did pedal up them, and felt invigorated on a mild autumn afternoon, but decided to ride down the "Valley"--Manhattan Avenue--from 125th to 110th Street before turning toward the river and Greenway.
At 110th, I took a quick left on Riverside Terrace and rode (the wrong way, but there was no traffic) a block, where I crossed Riverside Drive and entered Riverside Park and, finally, the Greenway.
|Hudson River Greenway|
I shouldn't have been surprised that so many people were cycling, running, strolling,skateboarding, rollerblading, riding Segways, walking themselves and their dogs and stopping to kiss their loved ones along the Greenway on such a beautiful Saturday. And, really, I can't begrudge any of them: Only a mole wouldn't want to be outdoors, by the river, on a day like yesterday.
But some of the strollers, skateboarders and others were--not surprisingly--texting. Actually, a few looked as if they were playing video games or doing other things that required them to interact only with their electronic devices. Perhaps it's because I came of age in an era of high crime and was victimized a couple of times---or, maybe, because I grew up without the electronic devices--I still can't understand how people can walk, skateboard or whatever and text at the same time. I simply can't divide my attentions in that way and--again, this may be a result of having lived through the age of "Fort Apache, The South Bronx"--I feel that I must remain aware of my surroundings.
Only the cyclists and runners seemed to be going about their way without electronic distractions.
To be fair, most people moved aside when they heard me. A couple of knuckleheads wouldn't get out of my way even after I rang my bell and shouted, and they seemed to make a point of making it impossible to maneuver around them.
After dodging and weaving for a few minutes, I exited the Greenway at 96th Street and started riding down Riverside Drive. I pedaled all the way to its southern end, at 72nd Street, without seeing a single driver of a car, bus or other motor vehicle. In fact, the only vehicles I saw were parked along the side of the drive.
Then, after turning left on 72nd and right on West End Avenue, I encountered another major thoroughfare that was all but traffic-free. To my knowledge, neither WEA or RD was closed to traffic. Nor was 11th Avenue, which is what WEA becomes south of 59th Street. There, I played tag with a few cars and a couple of buses--probably going to some event or another at the Javits Center--but stopped only once--at 34th Street, one of the busiest streets in Manhattan--on my way to 18th and 9th Avenue.
I still can't get over the irony of it all: Riding the streets from 96th to 18th was actually relaxing--almost bucolic, really--in comparison to the Greenway.