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Knickerbiker: In blizzard, subway beckons

A woman bikes across the Williamsburg Bridge into

A woman bikes across the Williamsburg Bridge into Manhattan. Credit: Max J. Dickstein/amNY

W?ith packs of ice still on the streets and more heavy snowfall predicted to start tonight, this week’s wintry mix will present bike commuters with another round of decisions about whether to undertake the ride to work.

“I don’t ride if there’s lots of snow and slushy, icy conditions,” said Emilia Crotty, education manager for Bike New York and a hardy commuter who said she doesn’t even mind riding in the rain (I can’t tolerate it). “I’ve learned my lesson there.”

The lesson, of course, is how dangerous city riding becomes after the roads get a snowy makeover. Poor visibility and unstable terrain can turn what’s typically a dash over the bridge and through town into a frightening slog. With all due respect to bike messengers, who seem immune to these concerns, taking on a blizzard in cyclist mode is futile or worse.

“Sometimes, you do have to stop and walk,” Crotty said of the worst weather days. “I just kind of get irritated. So I take the subway; I read.”

That is the self-preserving compromise winter demands: Leave bike at home, pay fare, crowd into train, cast eyes downward. Better than becoming marooned within a winter whiteout.

For the moment, the thawed city offers decent biking conditions. Even those remaining sheets of ice that connect sidewalk, curb and bike lane are slowly melting. But January is still young, so keep an eye on that snowy forecast. And if it’s raining? Don’t expect to see me biking then, either.

Max J. Dickstein is amNY’s bike columnist. E-mail him at mdickstein[at]am-ny[dot]com or follow him on Twitter (@Knickerbiker).

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