interactions with cyclists in central park

Over the past year, the media has taken certain events, discussed them at length, stirred up a lot of controversy…just to have the topic fall off the face of the earth, never to be heard about again.  Some events are more major than others (shootings by police, mass shootings by civilians, sexual assault), but one that is on my mind somewhat often is about cyclists in NYC.  Not to say that this is more important in my mind, but it is much more prominent in my daily life, so I think about it much more.  (Although with what seems to be increased police presence in Central Park, I do find myself wondering What if…? much more.)

In September, a woman was hit by a cyclist in Central Park and died as a result of her injuries.  There was an uproar from all sides—people who hate cyclists, cyclists who hate people, public safety—and as a runner-turned-cyclist/triathlete for a few months earlier this year, I feel like I had a bit of an insider opinion.  Do cyclists ride like madmen?  Should pedestrians pay better attention?  Who has the right of way?

So many questions, so many not clear answers.

In the past week, I’ve had two separate experiences with cyclists in Central Park, both while on the run.  (I’ve stored away my bike shoes for the winter.)  As someone who doesn’t run with music, or even with my phone, I like to think I pay attention to my surroundings.  I also realize that the world doesn’t revolve around me, so it’s important to watch for other people.

Exhibit A

I was running south along the west side of the park, and I wanted to cross the street to exit, as it was time to head home.  As I ran along in the running lane (the far left street…bike lane in the middle, cars [at times] on the right, for those not familiar with Central Park), I turned over my shoulder to see if any bike traffic was coming.  Since it’s December, the chance of cyclists being out there has certainly decreased, although a few brave, bundled cyclists are pedaling away.  Now, I’m not the most coordinated person, so looking over my shoulder leads my body to the right, and I cross about a step into the bike lane.  This happens about the same time I notice a cyclist coming my way, so I scoot back over into the running lane for her to pass.

She passes by in the lane next to me and says, “Thank you for looking!” as she passes.  When I was doing my cyclist thing, I didn’t have a problem with pedestrians, but I was mostly terrified by people who didn’t pay attention to anything going on around them.  Yes, it’s a park, but it’s a park with a roadway in the middle of big city.  The fact that the cyclist said something to me either meant that she’s a nice person or it’s not the norm for people to look before crossing.  I recognize that people have ideas about who has the right-of-way, but I think many issues would be solved if we just took time to see what is around us.

Exhibit B

For those familiar with the entrances to Central Park, I was entering at 72nd St on the west side, which is full of those bike carriages, tours, tourist photographing the John Lennon building, and people entering/exiting the park by foot or on wheel.  I was crossing the lane amid all of this chaos which involves dodging the masses.  A guy on a bike (I used “cyclist” for a certain type of person on a bike, not this guy!) entered the park, not in the bike lane.  In his defense, the bike lane here is usually littered with people who have no idea what’s going on…but it was clear at this point.  Moving on.  I recognize that he is moving forward on a bike, so I decide to slow down, wait for him to pass, and go behind him.  He had a clear path in front of him, but for whatever reason, he slowed down.  I ended up doing a shuffle step to wait for him to pass before going behind him.  He apparently thought I was too close and yelled, “F***ing ***hole!” right at me.  Um, you’re welcome for letting you pass?  No?  Maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe you should take your giant headphones off and pay attention to what’s going on around you.  And put a helmet on for good measure.

Two very different interactions with cyclists!  I won’t say I’m perfect in my running or cycling world, but I like to think I try hard to pay attention to what is going on around me.  Half the battle, if you ask me.

Part of what really irks me about the media and people’s reactions to what is happening is how quickly they disappear.  When the accident happened in September, there was a huge uproar and people demanding change.  (The cyclist wasn’t charged, in case you were wondering.)  Not much as been said since September, although it appears some changes have been made.  If you’ve run the loop of Central Park recently, you probably noticed change in some crosswalks.  The one by 81st St on the west side (by Delacorte Theater) has a barrier set up between the pedestrian and bike lanes.  This not only separates the lanes at what could be a high cross area, but also shortens the pedestrians lane.  (Instead of going directly across the street, pedestrians walk slightly south across the pedestrian lane before crossing the rest.)  Of course, I’ve seen people just cross north of the barrier instead.  Also, the speed limit has decreased from 25mph to 20mph.  Of note, I usually ride about 15-17 mph, so 20mph really isn’t that fast.  (The default speed limit for the city was decreased from 30mph to 25mph, which is mostly comical if you’ve ever driven in the city.)  Updates can be read in this NY Time article

I doubt that most people even noticed any of the changes made, although I am impressed that something actually happened.  Many times, there’s a media/internet uproar, but it seems as though no one does anything to take action.  It will be interesting to see if this changes how many accidents occur in Central Park.  Honestly, I think telling people to look up from their phones and pay attention to what is going on around them is what would really make a difference.  It’s not like I ever ride my bike with a speedometer, but I do try to keep track of my surroundings.

Have NYC runners/cyclists/pedestrians noticed the changes in the park?  What do you think about safety in the park?  For those outside NYC, what’s pedestrian/cyclist safety like where you’re from?

thanksgiving at work, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope everyone had a delicious meal with family, friends, or both.  I had a tasty potluck meal with my coworkers…since I spent the day at work!  We basically work every other holiday, and since I’m off for Christmas, that means I’m spending Thanksgiving at work.  It was a fairly uneventful day, which holidays in the hospital tend to be.  (Working with a skeleton staff and basically no unessential employees or procedures makes for a slower day.)  However, I have a trend of having very eventful Thanksgivings (laying on patients as they try to crawl out of bed, chasing a patient down the hallway with AMA papers…), so I’m always glad when the holiday passes quietly.  (And I only use the "q" word when the shift is over…)

Although I would much rather spend holidays with family or friends, being at work isn’t so bad once you get there.  (Although it was a little bit of a pain getting here, since I had to cross the parade route and there were people EVERYWHERE.)  It is made a little worse by the fact that all social media outlets are filled with pictures of turkey trots, trips home, and tables set for families/friends…but at least I’m making time and a half!  ha.  Luckily, the people I work with like to make it fun, so we had a potluck at work.  Everyone brought a dish (including a brave nurse who brought the turkey!) and we had quite the spread.  Turkey, mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, mac and cheese, corn pudding, salad, acorn squash, cheesecake, apple pie, and cookies.  The people I work with sure know how to cook!

photo 2 (26) Happy Thanksgiving from 8W!

Of course, we might be one of the only Thanksgiving dinner set ups to have a colostomy bag hanging over it…no idea why it is there as I can’t remember ever having a burn patient with a colostomy.  Maybe from an inservice…?

photo 1 (26) It was delicious.

Anyway, Thanksgiving dinner was delicious, and the unit was quiet enough for basically everyone to sit down and eat together.  (Don’t tell JCAHO…we don’t all fit in the nursing station!)  Eric was hanging out at the apartment after watching some of the parade this morning, so I invited him to come for dinner.  He got to see me in my lovely bouffant, but you can’t beat actually having a turkey dinner.  And in case you were wondering, here are some pictures from Eric’s viewing of the parade…it pays to live a few blocks from the parade route!

I really do miss the tradition of turkey trots – my brother and I ran the one in my hometown for a few years, but my job doesn’t exactly allow me to take part in annual traditions all the time.  I’ve also been thinking about doing a run commute…so since I’m working a bazillion days in a row and can leave some stuff in my locker at work, I figured tonight would be a good time to give it a go.  Gets me home from work quicker, saves me money on the bus, and I get to do my own turkey trot!  Winning all around.

I took my running backpack with me to work, along with some running clothes.  I ended up running about three miles home (not a direct route), and it felt sluggish and kind of long, ha.  Perhaps doing a run commute after Thanksgiving dinner wasn’t my greatest plan, but I got home pretty quick!  It wasn’t quite the same as doing a Turkey Trot (okay, it wasn’t close at all), and I’m not sure how I feel about the run commute after a 12 hour shift, but it’s done!

Now it’s time for a piece of pie and watching Christmas Vacation!  I finally have a kitchen big enough to dig out my Kitchen Aid mixer, so I put it to good use before my stretch of work started and made a French Silk pie…it is delicious!  Eric has a tradition of watching Christmas Vacation, so away we go!

Happy Thanksgiving to all…hope your bellies are filled with pie!

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