NYC –> Shanghai, 15 days: Like Riding a Bike…

August 26th, 2013. 15 days.

So having been cooped up in my apartment the last two days with some aggressive neck pain, I am sans a fresh urban design action photo. BUT, several folks have asked me to do a mini-blog about CitiBike, so today’s a perfect opportunity to bust out this priceless picture from last summer.

Me on a bike, seconds after having learned to do so. Thanks Bike New York!

IMG_9876-2Exhilarating doesn’t even begin to describe what I was feeling. Having grown up in a very non-bike-friendly “suburb” of Miami and attending a school that was 10mi+ from my house – I never learned to ride a bike. My mom didn’t know how, and either way, by the time she was able to pick me up from school it was nighttime. So finally learning to ride a bike meant far more than just gaining the ability to balance and pedal myself on two wheels. I’d conquered the remaining bastion of “immobility” that had plagued my youth. And that’s why I was utterly disappointed when, just the very next weekend, I was beyond incapable of maneuvering DC’s bikeshare. The bike now became a frenemy – I had tasted sweet victory; I now knew what I would be missing out on. But the bike had manhandled me and I scoffed at it. So flash forward to a year later. Summer, NYC. CitiBike stations everywhere. CitiBikes everywhere*. Smiles abounding. Economic development spilling over. Darn you bikers and all of your fun! Your freedom! Your flexibility! What to do? Biking has now become such a key part of urban living – something that I readily get behind (the new State of Place index even has a new Bike Amenities sub-score!). How can I be a “respectable” urban designer promoting physical activity and not bike?! Talk about an urban designer’s dilemma! So I’ve made a pledge to myself to get back on a bike in Shanghai – and reconquer it. Biking is just too integral to thriving, sustainable cities for me not to be personally “pedaling” that! (Please excuse my pun – I’ve been cooped up for 48 hours!)

*One very important note. CitiBikes are unfortunately NOT everywhere. And they are sadly missing from some of the very underserved neighborhoods that would need them most (e.g. Red Hook, Brownsville, etc.! This is not OK. We must all call upon the new leadership of NYC and other cities to implement a more equitable distribution of these pedals of mobility in the broadest sense of that word…

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