my commute sucks (less than yours)

When I moved to Inwood (the far northern tip of Manhattan) a year ago, one of the many things I wasn’t sure of was whether I was going to be able to continue my habit of bicycling to work. I needn’t have worried: it turns out that just recently, the city finished work on the Greenway: a (nearly) continuous bicycle and rollerblade path circumnavigating the entire island of Manhattan.

So I present to you: a few scenes from my daily commute. I can get on the Purple Pavement Eater at 204th Street, and ride all the way down to Canal Street in the mornings: no stop lights, no cars, no local trains, no waiting. It’s just about exactly twelve miles, door to door. Then at night, I turn around and ride all the way back.

It’s wonderful.

commuteWe begin at the beginning: an on-ramp to the Henry Hudson Freeway. Clearly visible: a white sign reading “Passenger cars only.” Not visible at all: a little green sign saying “Manhattan Greenway Path.”

commuteAnd indeed, when you round the bend, there is a stairwell leading up…
commute…to the northern terminus of the bike path.
commute…which you roll down, the Henry Hudson on your left, and the river on your right.
commute…past the little-used pavilion near 190th St
commute…past houses in Washington Heights, hanging out over the highway.
commuteA quick turn to the right drops you nearly straight down.
commute…to a little wooded path underneath the George Washington Bridge.
commute…which is very large indeed.
commuteThe Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Grey Bridge: famous childrens’ book to some, morning landmark to others.
commuteFrom here on out, the path proceeds almost entirely along the Hudson river.
commuteIn the mornings, it’s largely deserted, except for me and a few fishermen.
commuteAt 140th St., Hudson River Park technically ends, and the path takes a quick detour around a water treatment plant.
commuteThe path continues for a few blocks on a service road behind the plant; this is the only truly sketchy bit.
commuteJust above 135th St. and the Harlem Fairway supermarket, the path makes its only (and brief) detour onto surface roads, underneath the elevated highway.
commutePast the Fairway, you jog back to the river, where the dedicated path picks up.
commuteThis portion of the path is called the “Cherry Walk”, and is in fact lined with cherry trees that, in early spring, carpet the path with blossoms.
commuteYou can see the tower of Columbia’s seminary in the distance.
commuteThe path is usually feet from the water.
commuteNot quite to 96th St.
commuteThe view across the river.
commuteNear 102nd St, the path becomes part of the pedestrian promenade near the boat basin.
commuteAround 99th, the path briefly heads uphill and merges into the park walkway.
commute…then dips back down to the riverside as you approach the boat basin…
commute…where, shockingly enough, there are boats.
commute…and more boats.
commuteEntrance to the marina at 96th.
commuteThe remainder of the promenade.
commuteNear 86th St., the path moves behind the park, underneath the highway…
commute…and then takes a quick detour around some construction…
commute…to emerge beside West Street near 60th.
commuteAlmost visible in the background here: an enormous cruise ship. (Really.)
commuteDown West Street, past the docks; traffic on the path picks up a lot here, especially when ships are docked. (Mind the drunken sailors during fleet week!)
commuteMmmmmm…bagels. Note that in most cases you are moving faster than this traffic.
commuteNear 55th St., the USS Intrepid naval museum.
commutePassing under the Intrepid.
commuteNear 42nd Street, passing the famous CIRCLE LINE tour boat. (You have to type it in boldface, `cause the boat operators always say it that way.)
commutePast the most-watched building in Manhattan: the Chinese Embassy.
commuteStreet on the left, path in the middle, stuff and pedestrians on the right.
commutePassing the Javits convention center near 30th.
commuteNear 22nd, the path gets all swoopy to avoid the Chelsea Piers.
commuteAn accurate description of (a) West Chelsea’s daytime businesses or (b) West Chelsea’s evening nightclubs? Well, both really.
commuteEvery once in a while, special bicycle traffic lights flash red. Not that anyone pays attention.
commuteA bit past Chelsea now, into the sparkling new riverside park.
commuteNot too much by way of exciting landmarks now, just a (pretty) slog through the last mile and a half.
commuteMore parkland.
commuteNew Jersey attempts to have a little skyline of its own. We are Not Fooled.
commuteAt last, our destination in sight.
commuteThe final stretch.
commuteAir exchanger for the Holland Tunnel.
commuteAnd finally: Canal Street!
commuteA quick glance back up at the way we came before heading into the office.

As a postscript, a somewhat less exhaustive set of photos from the evening ride home:

commuteThe way back: an early twilight gathers over the Hudson.
commuteExchange Place, viewed from across the river.
commuteLooking back downtown.
commuteAn in-motion photo of one of my few fellow riders.
commuteThe helipad near 26th St.
commuteThe Chrysler Building winks at us.
commuteSailboats on the Hudson.
commuteBack on the pedestrian mall near 100th.
commuteA closer view of the sailboats from the Promenade.
commuteA look up the Promenade that will eventually become the Cherry Walk; our destination is on the far side of the bridge in the distance.
commuteAnd finally, a small New York Moment: underneath the highway, next to the Harlem Fairway, a movie is being shot.

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