In a city as uncompromising and relentless as New York, there is nothing more mundane than riding the subway. Filthy subway platforms often swimming with people become a competition to avoid swinging elbows and stepped-on toes just to get a seat in claustrophobic cars.
Don’t get us wrong: one of the greatest things about living in a city like New York is its full-scale transit system linking the five boroughs under one union to be navigated. The ever-expanding Metropolitan Transportation Authority, with subways, buses and ferries, allows commuters an easy method with which to travel to their everyday obligations, and to explore the wonders of the city.
So what are the two dirtiest words when it comes to a city of straphangers? Fare hikes. It was announced in January 2017 that monthly Metrocards, currently $116.21, would rise to $121. Nothing sends New Yorkers into a rage faster than hearing they will have to pay more for a service that often endures massive delays and crowds. Waiting longer for trains that never seem to arrive is not only an inconvenience, but feels like robbery in a city already so expensive.
As straphangers often nod off on their way home, sometimes they dream of a freer, bolder, self-sufficient way of travel that won’t demand more money for poorer service. So what is the average denizen to do?
Transportation Alternatives advocates holding our government accountable not only for maintaining and upgrading our transit system, but encouraging citizens to pursue other methods of transportation when the expense, delay and wear and tear of the system become too much. The non-profit organization insists that instead of fare hikes, the MTA should invest in public transportation because increased fares with inadequate service are a burden on New Yorkers. For a fraction of the cost of a year’s worth of transit fares, which can run upward of $1500, you can purchase a bicycle that can serve your needs for life. All while advocating for traffic safety, above all else, the institution encourages commuters that cycling is an ultimately cheaper surrogate to trains and buses, and can be a blast! No more delays; finally you can go your own way!
Trans Alt especially campaigns for bike riding in the wintertime. Anyone who has survived a New York winter may bristle at the thought of the frigid wind rushing past as one navigates through crowded, icy and pedestrian- and traffic-barricaded streets. But Transportation Alternatives and its proponents insist it’s a great way to get to know your city, even if you were born and raised here. “You feel a sense of accomplishment having [commuted] in the cold,” says bike advocate Ayesha. In a city that never has time to hesitate, riders say winter cycling gives them focus and solitude in a place brimming with commotion. Like a splash of cold water on your face, it’s a great way to break up daily banality by injecting a sense of brisk invigoration.
For those nervous about riding in inclement weather, or worry about transporting their children, advocate Doug insists that biking in NYC “instills a sense of New York toughness,” as he travels with his young daughter in a child bike seat. Transportation Alternatives also emphasizes that biking with family and friends builds bonds and fosters community between like-minded biking believers. It’s not easy living in this city, so anything that adds a little thickness to our skins makes us even more adaptable to any literal and figurative metropolitan roadblock.
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