I really hope the future of the streets looks like less cars and more bikes! More than any city I've ridden in, New York almost demands that you become a cycling advocate when you become a cyclist.

Maggie LarsonNew Yorker, Cyclist

I bought my Brompton in May largely in response to the pandemic. I didn’t feel comfortable taking the subway and had my eye on Bromptons for some time. Getting my Brompton has felt like the one positive thing to come out of the pandemic.

I grew up biking in the very bike-friendly city of Portland Oregon. In college I rode a heavy but dependable old Raleigh road bike and when I moved to Philly, I built a bike through the Philly Bike Works project in West Philly. I learned a lot about bike mechanics and loved riding my single speed around but I sold that bike when I moved to New York City in 2013, figuring that biking in the Big Apple would be too daunting. However, once I got my Brompton, my only regret was not getting it sooner. My Brompton fits with New York City, and it literally fits under my desk at work.

I am a cartoonist contributor to the New Yorker magazine and also work as the Associate Director of the 92nd Street Y Art Center. I’ve always been a subway commuter but all of that was disrupted back in March. At the 92nd Street Y Art Center, we transitioned just about all 250 of our Fine Art, Ceramics and Jewelry Classes to run online during the spring. We closed our building to the public and I worked entirely from home for a few months. 

This Fall, we’re offering about 30% of our art classes in person, and 70% of our classes online. I commute to the office on the Upper East Side from my apartment in Harlem once a week to support these classes and usually opt to take the scenic route through Central Park. On the days I work from home, I’ve found it so helpful to fit in a ride during my lunch break and after work to keep active. I got my Brompton largely for keeping mobile but have been impressed by its ability to help manage stress and stay sane during this time. 

I’ve ridden my Brompton every day since the day I got it. Most frequently I ride the loop in Central Park, or down the Hudson River Greenway. I’ve been across the Brooklyn, Manhattan, 59th Street, and Williamsburg bridges and it’s made me see and understand the city in new ways. My longest ride to date was from Harlem to Prospect Park to meet up with some fellow cartoonist pals. Everyone always wants to see a demo of the fold! The bike itself is such a conversation starter, it’s a delight to chat with New Yorkers about it on my adventures around the city. 

I had an accidental tri-borough bike ride a few weeks ago. I was hoping to support a favorite local brewery, Fifth Hammer, in LIC and thought a visit there would be a good excuse to ride across the 59th street bridge and explore Queens by bike. I rode down 2nd ave. to Midtown, only to find the 59th bridge bike and pedestrian paths were closed completely. I biked down to the Williamsburg bridge and over to Brooklyn. I biked along Kent ave and over the Pulaski bridge to Queens. I promptly rewarded myself with a take out Brewski in addition to picking up a six pack for later. Then, I rode all the way back. I also had some really wonderful rides through a nearly empty New York in the spring. While incredibly sad to see the city without its usual bustle, biking allowed me the first chance I’d had in a long time to see the city and participate in it. It was also liberating to bike without so many cars in the streets! I found it helpful to get my bike bearings in NYC during that time so now, as life in the streets has returned, I feel like I know my routes and feel more confident biking in traffic.

I really hope the future of the streets looks like less cars and more bikes! More than any city I’ve ridden in, New York almost demands that you become a cycling advocate when you become a cyclist. I’ve been impressed by how safe and fun it feels to bike in NYC when you have protected bike lanes and sequenced lights, but there’s a long way to go. I’d love to see more car lanes converted to space for bikes and pedestrians. As we see more outdoor dining in our streets, I’d love to think about the ways we can prioritize spaces for recreation and spaces for walking and biking while curbing the number of cars on the road. I’m also happy to contribute to keeping the subway less crowded by riding my bike and have been thrilled to have a new way to move around the city. 

Maggie Larson

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