A Glorious Way to Experience a Glorious City (New York by Bike)

New York is the ultimate city for getting around on a bicycle. Fashion capital, home to Broadway, mecca for lovers of the higher arts (and some lower arts), grid of amazing historical landmarks, impressive patchwork of beautiful parks, and more.

New York. Fashion capital, home to Broadway, mecca for lovers of the higher arts (and some lower arts), grid of amazing historical landmarks, location of countless movies and television shows, impressive patchwork of beautiful parks and more. As cities go, New York is a big star and an undisputed influencer.

New York is also the ultimate city for getting around on a bicycle. Everything its five boroughs have to offer is found within just 303 square miles (784 square kilometers), putting it at number 24 among US cities by total land area.

In terms of bike-friendliness, New York is making great strides toward being a city that goes out of its way to make room for people on bikes, literally. The state-owned bikeway along the Hudson River on Manhattan’s West Side is the busiest in the country, and more and more protected bike lanes are being built on the city’s streets and avenues every year. As of writing, we have over 300 miles of bike lanes in the city. But while we’ve come a long way, we’re no Copenhagen…yet.

The time is ripe for even bigger changes in the Naked City. Now is a great time for one of the world’s top influencers to assert itself as not just a style capital and not just an up-and-coming model metropolis for city cycling, but as both: the modern metropolis that sets the gold standard for city cycling with efficiency and style.

Now, I don’t plan to ignite any sparks with our stylish friends carrying the torch so handsomely in towns like San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Chicago, and elsewhere. No, no. I’ve seen some inspiring photos in this very magazine you’re holding of my two-wheeling brethren who make urban bicycling look awfully good. I’m hardly suggesting that we sport custom-tailored suits as we tour the town. I’m gunning for the bike as the ultimate city vehicle for riding casually in our regular clothes like sneakers and chinos, commuting to and from work in a suit or meeting someone for a night on the town, even in a dinner jacket.

As I see it, it’s about bringing simple flair to the affair and inspiring potential cyclists to just ride – particularly those riders who might otherwise think they need special bikes, clothes, shoes and other gear that is more suited to professional racers. There is nothing wrong with squeezing into a Tron costume and training for an Ironman on a carbon-fiber rig. But in a city as tightly packed as NYC, where we share precious space with cars, pedestrians, children, dogs and other cyclists, racing and the high-speed entitlement it can inspire isn’t very practical.

Perhaps it’s a game of attraction rather than promotion. I suspect that if more people were pedaling around in a way that sold it to the everyman, more people would join the party. Attending in sneakers, loafers and wing tips alike. To quote the title of Grant Petersen’s eloquent book: Just Ride.

George Hahn is the creator, writer and crash test dummy of his own website, a journal for men who aren’t millionaires but who like to look good and live well. georgehahn.com

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