In a lot of ways, cycling to work has been easier than I would have expected. Unless the morning is really muggy, I don’t get to work sweaty; my ride from Sunset Park down to the waterfront is mostly downhill with the exception of one little hill near Green-Wood cemetery, and one five-block incline in Carroll Gardens. I’m really not afraid of cars (although I do hate the cat-calling I get as a woman wearing a dress with an attention-getting helmet, but that’s another post entirely). And I love riding along or behind other cyclists, and getting a sense of what they’re doing successfully that I can emulate.
But I have to confess … part of this ease is the beauty secret of my commute: I don’t ride over the bridge into Manhattan. I take the East River Ferry.
Yep. There’s a boat in my bike commute. I ride from my apartment to Brooklyn Bridge Park and take the five-minute ferry ride across to Wall Street, which is a two-minute ride to my office downtown.
What am I gaining? Well, the Brooklyn Bridge is the closest bridge to my office, but I estimate it would add about 15-20 minutes to my commute to ride over it – longer if I took the Manhattan, which all my bike veteran friends assure me is a much better bridge to ride over (there’s a dedicated bike lane, whereas on the Brooklyn there are always tourists wandering into your lane). And the ferry builds in some cool-down time, so that even if I roll up to the Brooklyn side a little flushed, by the time I’ve crossed the East River I’m a lot cooler. So I save time and energy and bonus! I get to ride a boat, which I love. They even serve iced coffee on the boat. It’s even cold brew. The only way it could be more pleasant is if they gave you a puppy to cuddle.
There’s another thing. I’m not the strongest person on the planet and I’m also not the thinnest or fittest, and I confess: I’m a little scared of the bridge. It’s a pretty steep incline, and on the Manhattan, I’m intimidated by my fellow badass New York Cyclist Types. What if I’m going to slow and holding up thirty people from getting across in the aggro speed-demon manner to which they’re accustomed? Eeep!
Of course, there’s also cost. The bridges are free. The ferry is $10 round-trip (although I can purchase tickets using my pre-tax transit allowance through work, which significantly cuts the cost). The bridge gives me more freedom, while the ferry has a schedule.
So every time I ride across the water, sipping my iced coffee and enjoying this view, I see the bridges looking back at me, narrowing their eyes at my wussitude. Eventually, I’m going to have to take a deep breath on a quiet non-rush-hour afternoon and try my hand at these behemoths. I’m just hoping they’ve got iced coffee, too.