Do Not Ride Your Bike in the Hurricane (But If You Do, Don’t Forget Goggles)

Maybe this is common sense, but maybe people who take their lives in their hands every time they ride a bike in New York are short on that—this reporter included.

Still, with the M.T.A. suspending service across the entire transit system, a first in the agency’s 38-year history, The Observer couldn’t help but wonder: Might biking be a viable option to get around town for the majority of New Yorkers who do not own cars? It took less than a minute to disabuse us of this crazy notion.

First, we called some hurricane experts, so to speak, Cycle World in Miami. Donald Cuadra took our call and could immediately tell The Observer had never lived through a hurricane, let alone biked through one. “It’s bad, it’s very bad,” he said.

“It’s not so much the rain, it’s the wind. It’s one thing if you’re going against wind that’s 20 miles an hour—and then suddenly a 60-mile-an-hour gust hits you, you’re off the bike immediately. That’s guaranteed, you’re gonna fall. And if the wind doesn’t get you, all the debris—even a simple, little two-foot branch, it’s basically a projectile going 60 miles an hour.”

For a local perspective, we turned to downtown institution Gotham Bikes, which has been in Tribeca for three decades. Taj Sallid, a salesman there, said he did not think many people would be biking, but if they did, he provided some handy advice. First off, avoid the West Side Highway bike superhighway.

“The most popular route in terms of commuting in our city is the West Side greenway path, and that is going to be trecherous, absolutely, during a hurricane,” Mr. Sallid said. “If you just experience some of the winds during a mild rain storm over there, I’ve seen people with full-carbon bikes, disk wheels just flip over in a standard windy day. So in terms of a hurricane, that would make it pretty precarious over there.” Also, it’s smack in the middle of the flood zone.

“I guess my second suggestion would be on the streets, during high winds, the debris is pretty crazy.”

mchaban [at] observer.com | @MC_NYC

Comments

  1. Irene says:

    It’s not so much during the storm as after that a bike will be pretty handy.  If stations are flooded and damaged or if buses can’t complete their normal routes because of blocked roads, the only way to get to work on Monday may be on foot or by bike.  I can’t begin to imagine what the car traffic will be like if the roads are even partially open on Monday.

    1. Ladyfleur says:

      Yeah, and it’s a lot easier to dodge fallen trees and other debris on a bike than a car, and you don’t need a gas station to be open to keep moving. I live in earthquake prone California and I suspect my bikes would be indispensable in the aftermath of the big one.