As soon as Citi Bike debuted I became a regular rider. My own bike saw more action as a laundry drying rack than out on the streets. Citi Bike was convenient and strong—thick tires took potholes and broken glass like a champ whereas my road bike fretted about rolling over twigs.
Citi Bike was also good for something else: slowing me down.
On my own bike I had a propensity to speed along bike lanes and slide through intersections against the light. Weighing in at 45 pounds, Citi Bike couldn’t do that. Instead, I calmly waited at reds to catch my breath and, depending on the season, wipe away sweat or warm my hands.
But there was a transition period when I did try to beat lights on a Citi Bike, and I damn near sent someone to the hospital.
I was riding a green wave up First Avenue in the East Village, somewhere between Houston and St. Mark’s. I had broken free of the bike lane and was flying in the left traffic lane because there was no traffic. I felt the entire avenue was mine. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and all the lights were green.
Up ahead, a petite Asian jogger began to cross against the light, moving from right to left in the crosswalk. There were no cars coming, just me on a bike from the opposite side of avenue. She reached the center lane and I was approaching on the left right into her path. Green went red with barely a flash of yellow. I was going so fast I didn’t want to stop. I just wanted to get through one more light. One more. I could stay the course and beat her to the spot. Right?
She didn’t break her stride and I didn’t slow down. I sped up. Maybe she never saw me coming, but she certainly felt my arm hair. We were that close. I barreled through the crosswalk against the light, but miraculously missed hitting her.
“Are you a f*#@ing MORON!?!” screamed a biker coming up from behind who witnessed the near miss.
I came to a full stop and absorbed what I had almost done. The public shaming made it feel worse. Ironically, after berating me the other biker ran the next light, but I stayed put.
That near miss still haunts me. I can’t claim to wait for every red light to turn green if there are no cars or pedestrians anywhere in sight. However, when people are in the crosswalk or about to cross I won't risk it, even as other bikers weave around me and around them.