I really do love this time of year. Although often contrived I find it hard to not feel excitement and encouragement at the idea of a new beginning. This New Years I found a new type of encouragement in my home town. While visiting my family in New York City I went to check out the new seven block “Street of the Future” on 9th Avenue. This innovative design, where parked cars separate the bike lane from the road, is the first physically-separated bike path ever installed in the city’s urban nucleus.
I grew up in the heart of New York City where even going outside alone before the age of ten was pretty impossible. I can’t relate to the often-mentioned freedom that bicycles offer children or the youthful memories that cycling supposedly digs up. What I do remember is being very intrigued by the idea that kids in other parts of the country could bike to school. When I got my first bike in seventh grade I would often walk with it well out of the way to school so I could get to an avenue with low pedestrian traffic. I would cycle on the sidewalk for as long as I could, and then walk the remainder of the way. On the weekends when the loop road in the park was closed to vehicles I would trek there with my bike to get in a few miles of solid riding. It wasn’t until I moved to Maine for college that I could bike regularly, and I haven’t looked back since…nor have I moved back to New York.
This winter, however, I felt a new sort of connection with the city I sometimes forget is my real home. I hope this is the first of many new projects the New York’s transportation commissioner will explore to make the streets and the city a more livable place for cyclists and pedestrians in the future