25 July 2012

Waiting At The Bridge

What do you do when you're riding and have an unexpected roadblock?

Normally, you go around it by taking a slightly different route.  But, sometimes that's just not possible, or feasible. Such was the case when I was crossing back into Queens on the Pulaski Bridge:

Just as I got onto the bike lane, the gate swung shut and warning bells clanged.  This meant, of course, that the drawbridge was about to open.  

It's far from the first time I've encountered a bridge opening when I wanted or needed to ride across it.  At least, today I wasn't really in a hurry. I had moderate time constraints: I'd had to attend to a few things later in the day, so I had to get home, shower and prepare myself.  But I'd budgeted more time than I thought I would need.

The wait for the bridge didn't seem particularly long.  At least, the weather was nearly perfect, and even the normally turbid (and sometimes rancid) waters of the Gowanus Canal were nearly a reflection of serenity as the boat churned through it.

What was interesting about this wait, though, is something you may have noticed in the photo:  I was far from the only cyclist there.  In fact, I can scarcely recall seeing so many other bikes and riders at any other opening of a drawbridge.  As it turned out, there were just as many cyclists, if not more, waiting on the other side of the opening. 

That there were so many cyclists makes sense when you realize that the Pulaski connects what have become two of the greatest concentrations of cyclists in the NYC Metropolitan Area: the neighborhoods of Greenpoint, in Brooklyn and Long Island City in Queens.  I can remember when both of those communities were blue-collar enclaves in which almost nobody rode two wheels.   It seemed that the only time I saw other cyclists, besides myself, in those neighborhoods or on that bridge was when the Five Borough Bike Tour transversed them.

Some of the cyclists I saw today weren't even born then.

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