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Post-hurricane biking in NYC

Posted by Sarah Laskow  November 2, 2012 02:29 PM

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In the aftermath of the superstorm that rushed through New York City, one of the cheerier spots has been #bikenyc, the Twitter gathering point for the city's cyclists. With the subways still down and the bridges clogged with cars, members of the cycling community have been in good spirits: they're getting around pretty well, despite everything.

At #bikenyc, veteran cyclists are organizing group rides into Manhattan for first-time bike commuters. Dani Simons, whose day job is at the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, offered newbie cyclists tips and this bit of reassurance: "The good news about gridlock? The cars aren’t going very fast." Cyclists circulated a video by filmmaker Casey Neistat, who spent four hours during the storm biking around and documenting the rivers that had taken over the streets. And one cyclist even claimed that "unicycling is the best way to travel in the city right now. Can blend with pedestrian traffic on choked bridges better than bikes."

Sustainability advocates should be evangelizing right now. One of the strongest arguments for bike infrastructure is that it creates options for transport: cars, trains and sidewalks don’t serve all needs. The New York Observer points out that New York might have been better off right now if it had gone through with its plan to install the sort of bike-share system that cities like Boston and D.C. already enjoy.

These bike share systems even have a way to deal with the would-be Neistats inspired to ride around during severe weather. The Boston and D.C. systems use the same hardware, made by a company called PBSC Urban Systems, which is working with New York, as well. The Observer explains,

What about idiots trying to ride bikes in the middle of a hurricane? According to a DOT spokesman, there is a kill switch on the system. Flip it, and all the bikes lock into their stations and cannot be removed.

[Art: detail from "Hurricane Sandy on Bikes in NYC" by Casey Neistat]

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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