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I Love Riding in the City

NAME: J. Altman
LOCATION: Manhattan, NY

Where do you live and what’s it like riding in your city?
I live below 23rd Street. Pretty much everything that can be said about riding in NYC has probably been said. I’m undecided on which DSM entry might be relevant: Bipolar disorder? Borderline Personality disorder? Or outright Sociopathy? On the other hand, maybe that’s the riders. Hard to tell, somedays.
But that’s the down side. The upside is the variety, which for me is sheer in nature: it’s never the same; it’s never boring; and it requires an on-your-toes attitude. That means no girl watching.
In my experience, you have to actually ride the bike, if that makes sense. And that’s a good thing.

What was your favorite city to ride in, and why?
That would be New York.

Why do you love riding in the city?
I just like to ride.
Plus, it beats walking, the bus, the subway; or deciding to not go somewhere because my choices are the bus, the subway, or walking.

Or just say whatever you want about riding in the city…
Steady on wins it, every time. I’ve learned that even if I go slow, I still get there way before everyone else. Besides, if I like riding (and I think I do) what’s my hurry?


NAME: Stacy Siivonen
LOCATION: Helsinki, Finland
OCCUPATION: Personal Assistant

Helsinki has it all—a fetish for cobblestone streets, trams and tram rails covered in snow, thumbtacks on the bike paths, aggressive van, bus and taxicab drivers and crushed gravel (they spread it in the winter to increase traction, but it mostly destroys tires).
I ride my bicycle anyway because I enjoy freedom of movement and the distinct seasons. When the sea freezes, I will sometimes bike on the sea ice instead of the tire-breaking gravel. Flooding creates challenges. Commuting by bicycle is seasonal, but I am one of the few that ride year round. In winter you can bike in solitude, but in spring, summer and fall the bike paths, which are sometimes referred to as “extended parks,” are full of summer cyclists, scooters, rollerbladers and dog-owners and eternal construction sites. Traveling by public transportation is irritating, it’s like being packed between the pages of an advertisement catalogue. Too many people in a closed space causes me anxiety, and the idea that you have to depend on schedules stresses me out. Most of the people that complain about the inclement weather here are the people who spend the least time in it.

I love to bike in Tampere, because I love the city. It lacks some of the nastieness of Helsinki, such as the need for using congested streets and a bus once gave me the right of way—politeness unheard of in Helsinki. Tampere offers good views of the city, yet you can pretty much avoid the hill using the bike path while cars have to negotiate the steep hill. Usually in Finland it’s the other way around. Tampere has put forth an effort to make road signs for cyclists. Finnish cities are usually lazy about putting up any signs, and you have to kind of guess your way and study the map well. There is also at least one long bike path for commuters. Usually the bike paths end suddenly or switch to the other side of the road randomly. The size of Tampere is better suited for bicycling than the size of Helsinki.

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