Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Video of bike ride across the Brooklyn Bridge

I've posted several times before about my almost daily walks over the Brooklyn Bridge and back, including documenting one such, on a chilly January morning, on video. There is little pedestrian traffic on this winter day, but a fairly steady stream of bikes, mostly headed in the same direction I'm going, from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Given the hour (roughly 8:30-9:00 a.m.) this video was shot, the bike riders are likely commuting from homes in Brooklyn to workplaces in Manhattan.

Now, thanks to The Phantom of Bay Ridge Blog, I've found the clip above, which shows a complete crossing of the Bridge from a biker's point of view, from the beginning of the bike path at Tillary and Adams streets in Brooklyn to its end across from the Municipal Building in Manhattan (the action is speeded to keep the video reasonably short, and there's some nice background music). Judging by the state of construction of Frank Gehry's Beekman Tower (scroll to the bottom of the linked post), I'd say this video was made in the late summer of 2009. It being a clear summer day, there are lots of pedestrians on the Bridge, many of them tourists busy lining up photo shots. There's a bold white line dividing the pedestrian and bike lanes of the pathway, which is mostly respected on both sides, though in the video you can see some near misses, usually caused by pedestrians abruptly crossing into the bike path.

Bikes have been part of New York City life since their invention, but in the recent past, in my experience, most of them were used by messengers or restaurant delivery people. Over the last decade or so, the number of people using them to commute to and from work, or for recreation, has increased greatly. This has led to tensions between bikers and auto drivers and parkers (note: the "victory" for bikers claimed in the linked post was later partly undone in a "compromise" brokered by a local politician, allowing parking in the bike lane on Sundays during church services), as well as pedestrians. I don't own a bike--indeed, I never learned to ride one--and so might well be found on the anti-bike side of these issues. There have been times during my trans-Bridge peregrinations when I've shaken my fist and cursed under my breath at bikers who've come flying around the corners that abut the towers of the Bridge, heedless of the fact that tourists often gather there to take photos, or who've bellowed at me for having the temerity to transgress slightly onto the bike path while I'm passing groups of fellow pedestrians walking three abreast. The pathway really is too narrow, given the traffic it gets on pleasant days, to allow for strict separation of bikes and pedestrians, unlike the nearby Manhattan Bridge, which has separate bike and pedestrian paths. In general, I've found both bikers and pedestrians on the Brooklyn Bridge to be courteous to each other, but there are exceptions. I hope one of these exceptions doesn't eventuate in a serious injury.