Commuter of the Month:
Hillary C. Hedges
T.A. member since: January 1996
Reasons for bike commuting: I sit in an office about ten hours a day,
and if it weren't for my bike ride I would have little opportunity to connect
to the outside world. Because I have an hour and a half on the bike every day,
I'm actually able to notice the seasons.
Commute: From West 10th Street in the Village to Fort Lee, NJ. I go up
10th Avenue and Riverside Drive, then over the G.W. bridge. It's 11 miles each
way, and it takes me 45-55 minutes. I shower at
the office, and keep most of my work clothes at work.
Bikes: A Bianchi road bike. I also have a Schwinn "world
tourist" with a huge basket for doing errands.
Bike Parking: In the building's parking garage, chained to the guard
rail between the cars. I very rarely park my bike on the street. When I do, I
sit where I can see it. One time I watched two guys walk up to my bike, and
while one leaned against it, the other one worked on cutting the cable. The
whole thing happened at 3:00 outside of Hunter College. Thank goodness I
looked up from what I was doing and ran outside. The mistake I made was
locking the bike against some scaffolding behind a row of parked cars, out of
sight from most pedestrians.
Seasons and weather: The heat, wind, rain and cold are all manageable
with the right clothing. I can't handle accumulated snow. It's a real problem
in the winter, when they don't pave the path on the G.W. bridge.
Special equipment: In the deepest cold I swear by my "windstopper"
pile jacket. A light is always good, and a reflective vest. Mr. Tuffy
tire liners are essential. I carry my things in a pannier that I clip onto my
Best bike experience: I love it when the first real spring day rolls
around. I ride through the side streets of Washington Heights and see the
streets full of kids playing, and hear the Mr. Softee truck on the corner. I'd
never see that sort of scene traveling in the subway or on the highway.
The worst: The scariest was when I encountered a strung-out crazy in
the middle of 10th Avenue. I think he fancied himself a toreador, and after
fencing a bit with me he grabbed onto the back of my bike and ran after me for
Advice: Take it easy until you develop a sixth sense about car
behavior, and don't be afraid to ride aggressively. You have to go for breaks
in traffic whenever possible, otherwise you just get stuck with the automotive
pack, and are more likely to get squashed. It's important that people see you
- I always make eye contact with people who are turning in front of me, and
make sure they see me before I proceed.
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