Monday, August 31, 2015

New From New York City, NY

This is where the adventure began.  We walked some around the tower and park at One WTC.  We stopped in at O'Hara's Pub and had a soda.  Then, we went to the National Museum of the American Indian, but not to go in this time.  We went to pick up a bike.

City Bike is the ride share program that operates in New York City since 2013.  There are hundreds of stations where you can pick up a bike around the city, and around 12,000 bikes in service.  It's quite a system, and it's very popular.  After years of complaining that I wanted to give it a try, my son offered to go all the way to New York City for the day just to go bicycling.  My goal was to figure out how it works and take a lovely ride around the waterfront on the greenway that was created in the Bloomberg years.

The waterfront area of South Manhattan has some wonderful views.  You can see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, New Jersey, One WTC, the Irish Famine Memorial, Battery Park, Castle Clinton, ferry docks, and so on.  In recent years, the waterfront has been made into a showplace in order to attract city dwellers to come out and play, and City Bike was the crowning glory of that goal. 

The architecture is fascinating whether it be at the updated ferry terminal or at Brookfield Place.  There are so many beautiful places to see.  I never knew that there were full sized palm trees in Manhattan at the mall.  

After 9/11 the area was devastated, and the city wanted to do something to bring people back to the area.  It wasn't easy to find a solution to that, and we all understood that.  The idea of making the waterfront into a beautiful haven really appealed to people, and it's been a great success.  I enjoy walking there and watching the sunsets over Jersey.  It's gone from being a place that's scary and falling down into a beautiful haven where you nearly forget that you're in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world.

But this time I didn't come to walk.  I came to bike, and we picked up our bikes at the National Museum of the American Indian, right across the street from Battery Park.  The bikes cost $9.95 a day with various options for multi day and weekly passes.  You pay by credit card.  You receive a code that you put into the keypad next to the bike that you choose.  It releases the bike and off  you go.  Now, I learned the hard way that it's a good idea to take a map of bike stations, because you have to check in every 30 minutes while you have the bike.  That's the rule.  So, it's a good idea to know where the stations are so that you can do that.  We didn't see one for a long time going up the East River shore next to FDR Drive.  We ran over and it wasn't a calamity, but I really wish that I would have gotten a map or gotten the app with the map on it for my phone.  Live and learn, which was exactly what the trip was about.

The bikes are all over the city.  You can get them in Brooklyn, Queens and all over the place.  You can ride them from borough to borough across the bridges.  You can take them to NYU.  You can ride them right through Times Square.  They are all over the place.  You do have to be 16 to ride and then you have to go with an adult.  When you're done, you take the bike to the closest station and make sure that it is secure in a parking spot.  That's it.  You're done.  Easy.

There are bike paths that run along FDR Drive, there are paths that go right through congested uptown areas, and there are some paths along the rivers that have amazing views.  New York City has done a great job making the entire city extremely bicycle friendly.  I was riding on a designated bike path that ran between two lanes of traffic on an exit ramp, and it was just fine.  The drivers were very respectful and it was easy.  

So, if you want to get a beautiful view, an unusual view, an artistic view, or just a view that you can't get any other way on Earth; take a ride on a City Bike and see New York in a whole new light.  Remember, City Bike is a corporation that isn't only in NYC.  They are a subsidiary of Motivate and they have systems in places all over the world including Boston, Washington DC, Chicago and so on.  So, if you can't make it to New York, look up Motivate and see if they have a system near you.  It's a great way to see a city near you.


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