Bike the Strike
By now we've all figured out that while the Mayor's contingency plan might have prevented total traffic turmoil and gotten a lot of people free rides to work, it did nothing to get folks home at the end of the day. If you want some practical advice for your own self, here is what I have to offer:
Time's Up! is organizing a morning commute rides, and they'll be at the Manhattan bridge with a few bike pumps (to use) and some hats (to keep) for folks who don't have a proper chapeau. Meet on the Brooklyn side of the bridge at 8:45 to ride in a group over to Sixth Avenue and up to Columbus Circle, or stay up to date at the bike blog.
Transportation Alternatives has a full resource page up. My inside sources tell me that TA is planning to open up a forum for organizing group rides--if you aren't quite sure about riding one your own, keep your eyes peeled and you might find a group to ride with.
(photo by Adam Fields, some rights reserved)
If you are planning to start a winter bike commute this week, you couldn't have picked a better time. With clearly demarcated bike lanes (do the next rider a favor and move those beautiful, beautiful orange cones to the OUTSIDE of the lane where they belong) and a ban on parking on the curb side of bike lanes, you'll have plenty of room to ride safely as long as the contingency plan is in effect.
* Ride with traffic: the sky is not actually falling and it won't kill you to go a block out of your way and get on a street that is going the same direction as you and your bike.
* Fill your tires and oil your chain: if you can't get a proper tune up, at least take care of these two things. Turn your bike over, balance it on the seat and bars, and turn the pedals while you dispense oil. Get some oil in your cables too, just for kicks. It will make your ride much easier.
* You don't really need your fingers that badly on the ride, but if you want to use them when you get to work you'll need more than a cute pair of mittens. I have fleece lined welding gloves from the hardware store and some thin gloves to wear inside of them. I can't open my cell phone with my gloves on, but I can feel my fingers all the way to work.
* Wear wool: it is cold out there, and you need a serious layer of wool (okay, fleece is fine too) between you and the world. You can take it off when you get to work, it doesn't have to be pretty, but you need some kind of warm sweater under your coat.
* Wear at least two pairs of pants: the most common pairing is thermals with plain old pants, but there is no shame in wearing sweat pants under or over your pants. Again, you can take them off before anyone sees you, but you won't get over the bridge frost free if you don't have at least two substantial layers on your legs. Fashion you can carry in a backpack. Dress for warmth.
* Cover your chin: I have a balaclava, but I do this every day. Find some kind of woollen scarf that you can pull up around your chin, anything.
* Bring some kleenex if you are crossing a river. I don't have to go into it, I suppose, but even if you are feeling just fine the cold wind on the bridge will bring out your inner sniffle.
* For Bonus Points, I keep a rice bag at the office, sometimes I put it in my lap if I find I'm cold when I get to the office.
Later, if you want to keep riding, you can look into getting some panniers to save your back and some fancy wool long johns so you'll never feel the east river bridges again, but this week, you can make do quite nicely without fancy garments.
If you are reading this at work with your bike by your desk while you try to shake the chill out of your hands, walk to the nearest hardware store and get a pair of cotton gloves to go under whatever didn't work out for you this morning, and/or a pair of work gloves to go over.
I apologize if you really needed this last night! I was sitting on Canal Street watching car upon single occupancy car snarl its way over the Brooklyn Bridge while everyone who hitched a ride to work trudged towards the foot path.