Tag Archives: Brooklyn Navy Yard

Biking Through Different Worlds

3 Jul

I feel a great responsibility having to introduce New York City on The Daisy Chain. I’m listening to Time Out New York’s 100 Best Songs About NYCto get my Big Apple Juices flowing and help me take an accurate snapshot of such a diverse, bustling, and ever-changing place. This is a gargantuan task, so let me start by guiding you through my endeavor to bike to and from work today.

I bought a bike a year ago and still feel like a novice urban cyclist every time I get on, helmet on head, and face the mean streets of NYC. I proceed down 2nd Avenue, transversing through the East Village and Lower East Side, which, even though it’s 11-ish am, haven’t yet fully recovered from last night’s parties.

Sidewalks of Chinatown.

Continuing toward the Manhattan Bridge, I dodge buses and cars, and nearly hit several pedestrians overflowing from the sidewalks of Chinatown. The presence of fish and fresh produce is pungent to the point of distraction. Cars, trains (yes, that’s plural — 4 train lines use the bridge!), and two wonderful, isolated, and protected bike paths run along the Manhattan Bridge. It was noisy, but I felt safe between the gratings. The bike path deposited me in crowded and chaotic Downtown Brooklyn. I cut it to the Fulton Mall– a 17-block-long shopping area where over 100,000 people come each day to shop (don’t worry, I was just passing through!). Only buses are allowed on this section of Fulton Street — but I biked through it and prayed not to get a ticket. Seven minutes later, I arrived at work (on time!).

Entrance of the bike lane on the Manhattan Bridge.

This was my first time biking to work and I’ll tell you why: Biking there seemed easy enough, but the thought of having to bike BACK after a long day at work was daunting. I decided to take a calmer, longer route home (read: downhill). Vanderbilt Avenue led me down to the Brooklyn Navy Yard (BNY). Inaugurated in 1801, the BNY was used to build merchant vessels for over 150 years. It was here in BK that they build the USS Missouri, the battleship where the Japanese surrendered during WWII. Today, this place is an industrial park and a much contested area for development and growth (think prime views of the City and a lot of vacant space). One of my favorite aspects of New York is how neighborhoods fluctuate, change, and get re-appropriated. An area where they once built warships now houses a myriad of industries, from theater set design to metal fabrication.

Past the Navy Yard, I can see the Williamsburg Bridge — the final mountain to overcome before I’m safely home. I stop to get a drink and a sweet treat, some energy if you will, in Williamsburg — smack in the middle of the Hasidic Jewish enclave. I’m not wearing enough clothes to hang out here, but no one seems to notice. It is a looooong way up the Billyburg, but I power through with only 2 breaks. The view and old school hip-hop blasting from the bike next to me keeps me going. As the incline on the bridge ends, he congratulates me on making it up in high gear — I gotta learn more about bikes!

View from Williamsburg Bridge from the East River Park.

The rest of the ride was cake after that. I stopped at the East River Park to admire the bridge I had just ridden across and enjoy a beautiful New York summer afternoon. Days like today, where I am able to take a leisurely bike ride, see places in NYC I’ve never seen before, and still make it home for dinner, are one of the many reasons I love New York City.


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