A couple of years before I started this blog, the walkway of the Veterans’ Memorial Bridge, which connects Rockaway Beach with the Queens “mainland”, closed for repairs. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the bridge and most others (as well as tunnels, the PATH trains and the Port itself) in this area, provided a shuttle van across the bridge during the “cycling season”, which PATH deemed to run from May to October.
Of course, it wasn’t as convenient as riding across the bridge walkway. And, of course, it stranded those of us who ride year-round. But at least the service was reliable and the drivers courteous and helpful.
I can say the same things about the driver I encountered today on the shuttle across the Bayonne Bridge. He is a Port Authority contractor, as were the drivers who ferried us across the Veterans Memorial Bridge. I don’t know whether he’s a cyclist or not, but he said there needs to be more bike access on bridges and other byways. “Cycling and walking have to be encouraged,” he said. “There’s just too much traffic.”
As courteous and helpful as he was to me, I didn’t get the sense he was parroting some party line or simply what he thought I wanted to hear. If anything, I had the sense he’s the sort of person who doesn’t do—or, perhaps, is incapable—of such things. So, when he unloaded my bike on the Staten Island side of the bridge, I thanked him profusely. “I’m just doing my job,” he demurred.
But that, of course, wasn’t the only reason I was expressing gratitude. As I get older, I am more grateful for my opportunities to ride as well as for the great and small ways in which people are helpful or simply hospitable—and, of course, for a gorgeous day like today.