Today on the way to a dance performance, I decided to take the Brooklyn Bridge from Quaker Meeting, instead of my usual route over the Manhattan Bridge. VERY BAD IDEA.
In theory, biking over the Brooklyn Bridge should be a breeze. There's a clearly demarcated bike path and pedestrian path, as you can see in the picture above.
The reality is that on any given weekend that isn't pouring rain or sub-zero, you will find thousands of tourists walking across the bridge, most of them oblivious to the bike lane. Not only do walk and pose for pictures in the middle of the bike path, they get very entitled and uppity when the bikers shoo them out of the way. It's enough to make me say very unquakerly things.
Today was a particularly bad example of this. I was coming across from the Brooklyn side of the bridge, feeling pretty zen from a lovely Quaker Meeting for Worship. About 1/3 of the way over, a large group of 8-10 tourists were posing taking a picture on the bike path. I slowed down and asked them to please move over to the pedestrian side. They grudgingly started to move as I proceeded forward.
A small girl must have left her pink hoodie on the ground, because somehow it got entangled with my chain as I passed by them. My bike grinded to a halt. Luckily I wasn't going faster or I probably would have face-planted.
I tried yanking it to get it out of the chain, moving the gears and pedals, getting grease all over my hands and arms. One of the tourists, perhaps the kid's dad, tried to help, which was very nice. But the rest of them thought this was hilarious and started laughing and taking pictures.
This went on for a few minutes, and I just snapped and told them, "Hey, this isn't very funny for me!" One of men stared back at me and said, "What, you want to fight?" The others stalked off muttering about how I had an "attitude." That left me alone to deal with the hoodie still firmly wrapped around my bike chain.
Eventually, about 20 minutes later, I managed to extricate the clothing from the chain and gears. But I had no luck in figuring out how to re-thread the chain back on. So I had to walk the bike to the nearest subway and train the rest of the way, which was a real drag.
Here's what my hands looked like after wrestling with the bike for 30 minutes. I have no idea why I am smiling that much.
So the moral of this story is: Don't bike across the Brooklyn Bridge on the weekends.
6 thoughts on “NYC Biking Tip #14: Don’t bike over the Brooklyn Bridge on the weekend”
Ugh – yeah the Brooklyn is the suck when everyone’s out. I will ride it in the middle of the night though, very peaceful.
Lucky you didn’t wipe out your drive train – got a rag stuck in my chain, caught the rear derailer which bent the frame got stuck in the back wheel and killed the wheel. Had to get the frame straightened, new derailer, new chain (was completely bent up) and a new handbuilt wheel.
yeah no lasting damage, as far as I can tell.
I was really struck by Sydney pedestrian’s cluelessness about shared paths when I moved up here. Melbourne pedestrians have been better trained by the larger cycling population.
I haven’t ridden over the Harbour Bridge yet, but I think it’s got a bike-only path. Woo-hoo!
I’ve had a few of those crappy chain-tangle experiences. I keep a hanky on me for that sort of situation.
the travel guides try! at least the one i took hiking around on saturday had a mention of “don’t be the gawky tourist wandering into the bike lane”… which served to point out exactly how much the crowds were overflowing into it. didn’t see any incidents of people being this overtly rude, but the bikers couldn’t have been having much fun.
Bridges and city streets alike. Still just as congested and just as hazardous.
Yes, but the Brooklyn Bridge is particularly bad of all the bridges in New York.