How I travel: New York on a bike

I don’t like flying. Or driving. I’ve always ridden. I think I’ve mentioned before that I’ve owned a car for seven years  of my life only. The rest of my adult life, I’ve ridden a bike to get around. Indeed, just three weeks ago I became car-less again. I really do prefer it. My tendency to attract parking tickets means it’s a particularly expensive habit. In fact, cars have always felt like way tooooo much collateral.

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Hot New York chic on bike. LOVE the saddlebag. Which sounds weird, I know.

I landed here in New York a week ago (boy, it feels longer!), jetlagged to …Frankston (or some other end-of-the-line zone), and a waitress with leg tattoos said to me,

“We are not meant to travel faster than horseback.” 

Or pushbike. The Ayurvedic tradition teaches this. Our cells are meant to move at a gentlemanly pace. At a pace that our breath can keep up with, I think.

My first day here I signed up for the Citibike scheme. I did the same in Paris last year. And Copenhagen. Do you know how it works? You insert your card. It costs $25 for a week for unlimited peddlies. You can pick up a bike pretty much every second block. You dart from spot to spot. It’s all above ground with fresh air in your hair. I don’t have wifi here (the dumb expense! the dumb expense!). So I look up my destinations for the day on Google Maps using the hotel wifi (or Starbucks’). Using the “bike” icon I get an exact map of where to go, timed to the minute, and download it on my phone. And on I ride, door to door.

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This here is NOT a Citibike. It is, however, me (and a “representation in bike”) after two days of scooting around NYC meeting publishers…

I’m a kamikaze rider and in big cities the thrill is intensified. So is the connection you glean from riding. Here in New York I’ve met so many locals at bike stations and traffic lights.  I found this in Paris, too – there’s a real pride in the scheme. When local riders work out I’m a tourist they get weirdly excited, like, wow, you like it! And you use it! We do, too!. Can I urge you to try riding next time you travel? Many big cities, including Melbourne, have schemes. I’ve been riding several hours each day since I’ve been here, from meetings to drinks to dinners. Want to know how I stay well when travelling? This is it, my friends. I move at a gentlemanly pace, above ground. In my rubber-soled runners. And in cahoots with some stylish locals. Take a look at some of these New York wheel-spinning looks…

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If you’re wondering what shoes to wear, here’s a handful of tips for you:

1. Make sure you’re wearing stiff shoes. The stiffer the better. Flexibility limits your pedaling power, so the best shoe is a stiff shoe.

2. Classic high heels work well. (But avoid stilettos!)

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3. Shoes with a strap are always a winner.

“As long as it doesn’t fall off my feet or get caught in the pedals. Espadrilles are O.K., like wrapped around my ankle. Definitely it helps to have ankle straps.” Emilia
“As long as it doesn’t fall off my feet or get caught in the pedals. Definitely it helps to have ankle straps.” Emilia

4. Avoid shoes that are likely to bend in half or fall off.

5. For the blokes: a good biking shoe is a good walking shoe. Runners (sneakers) always work. This is what I’ll tend to favour. Although I do ride in shoes I wear to work meetings, too.

6. Some sandals work fine, if they’re not overly bendy.

7. Shoes with rubber traction are really good for biking. They give good grip.

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Used Citibike? Any tips for other cities?

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