Monday, May 3, 2010

How to use the Williamsburg Bridge

DSC_8978
Correct use of both a smile and a bicycle basket from Sweden.

As spring gives way to summer, more of you will be out there on your feet and bikes crossing the Williamsburg bridge. The purpose of this post is to help you use the bridge correctly. I know, it's scary that I need to write a post to help people get across a bridge, but it seems that even with signs painted on the path every few feet, some people not only don't understand how to use the bridge, they're certain they understand how - in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

DSC_8997
Correct use of the bicycle lane on the Williamsburg Bridge.


DSC_9012
Incorrect use of the bicycle lane by pedestrians.
Sneak attack danger is high.

Recently, the lovely Jennifer and I took a trip across the bridge for a ride down the east side of Manhattan. There's nothing better than riding along under the Brooklyn Bridge on a sunny day with cool air from the river blowing over you. (Until you get to the tourist explosion at the piers, but that's another post.) On this trip, however, we encountered so many people walking on the wrong side that by the time we got to the middle of the bridge and encountered a pair of runners, I'd had enough.

DSC_9008
Correct use of being-very-pretty-and-looking-like-one-should-be-in-the-country when one is in fact in the urban jungle.

Just as I was grumbling to myself, the runner on the right decided she was going to let me know that I was riding on the wrong side. I replied that actually, she was on the wrong side, and if she'd look at the signs painted right in front of her, literally under her feet, she'd see how the bridge works.

Granted, it's a little counter-intuitive and one might think that everyone just stays to the right. But you don't. On this bridge, the Bicycles stay to the right, like cars - and the pedestrians or runners, or whoever doesn't have a vehicle under them goes against the traffic. This is sensible, because if someone is approaching you on a bicycle, you want to see them, you don't want them to sneak up on you from behind. How do you know which side to walk on or ride on? There are signs painted all over the bridge with iconographic pedestrians and bicycles and even arrows, it's actually all very clear.

DSC_9018
It's actually all very clear.

As you can guess, my hint about her failure to see what was right in front of her wasn't taken kindly. She said "No we're not, I run on this bridge all the time, you're on the wrong side."

My cycling partner later told me that the moment she heard this exchange she could see the blog post I was going to write appearing before her. And I had pulled out my camera to gather a little evidence so I could demonstrate how not to use the Williamsburg bridge.
  • If you're running, walking, or on foot (sans bicycle) stay in the left lane.
  • If you're on a bicycle, stay in the right lane and pass on the left.
Do not do this:

DSC_9016
Incorrect use of the bridge. Note the failure to see what is right under their feet. These people are stupid, yes, stupid. They aren't ignorant because I told them and the little stencil told them and they still didn't listen.


DSC_9020
Oh, but crossing the bridge and navigating around the stupid people was worth it!

2 comments:

JJN said...

Bravo! And thank you for all the compliments. I agree that, despite the stupid people, the ride was worth it!

Behooving Moving said...

Hi, I wonder if you could help me figure out how google maps marked out its new cycling layer for New York? More detail on my own cycling blog. Thanks!
http://behoovingmoving.livejournal.com/25932.html