Beating the System

11:19 PM, Saturday, August 8, 2009 / Posted by Christy /

After about 4 months of biking around Manhattan, I can say that my bike is probably one of the best purchases I've ever made. I can't believe the years I lived here and DIDN'T have a bike. I had thought about getting one a few times over the years, but never had that push to make it happen until the MTA threatened fare hikes, potentially raising the price of a monthly Metro Card from $81 to $103! That was just too much for me to handle. The online petitions began and the politicians began negotiating in Albany, but I decided to be proactive and not let politicians decide things for me for once. If the MTA was going to raise fares and cut service, I wasn't going to be needing their services anymore.

Riding my bike has changed several things about my existence here in New York. First of all, the every day rite of passage of the New York resident, taking the subway, is no longer part of my life. This is both good and bad (but mostly good). I miss the (good) subway performers, the time to read or listen to my iPod, the people watching, stopping at the subterrainian news stands to grab a soda or snack. I do NOT miss the bad smells, the late trains, the construction, the over-crowded cars, the people not respecting my personal space, or the rats running down the tracks. I especially do not miss having to wait a half hour or more to get a train if I'm travelling in the wee hours of the morning.

When I started riding my bike, I thought maybe I would be reluctant to do it at times and make excuses to not do it ("It looks like it's going to rain" or "I'm tired"). This is SO not the case. I have been known to ride when it is sprinkling and then been caught in a downpour. One day I arrived at work literally wringing out my pants, looking like I'd been thrown in the river. But it was a small price to pay for me. I take my chances with the weather gladly. The other potential problem of being tired hasn't really been an issue either. I remember saying that I thought maybe I wouldn't want to ride my bike to work on Saturdays because I work such a long day, I might dread having to ride my bike home. On the contrary, I get new energy when I ride. Where as I used to drag myself to the train station and sit like a zombie on the ride home, now when I hop on my bike to leave, the exercise wakes me up again, and I feel refreshed.

The other night, I ventured out of Manhattan on my bike for the first time, and rode to Queens to spend a long night hanging out with Eduardo and some other friends. When I was finally ready to leave, it was after 5am. Eduardo told me I could leave my bike and take the train, but I wanted to ride home. When I started out, it was still dark, but the sun slowly began to rise as I rode towards Manhattan, following the people going to start the early shift at work and the trucks hauling the breakfast carts to set up on the busy corners of the city. Instead of feeling tired and miserable, just longing for my bed (as I know I would have been if I'd been on the train), I enjoyed seeing the city wake up, the lack of cars on the road, and when I got home around 6:30am, I didn't even fall immediately into bed. Once again, the exercise gave me a second wind, and I stayed up a while eating breakfast and watching the morning news.

So, I can't really see a downside to bike riding around the city. It saves time, money, and it's great exercise! I've lost a few pounds and my pants fit a little looser since I started riding. And now when I hear friends complaining about the MTA, I just think to myself, "I beat the system!"

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