The following is an article by Jason W. Thomas and his mom, Janice M. Williams, about their experience biking in Manhattan with Woodbridge Troop 63 after an NHCAT bike safety workshop.
My name is Jason and I’m a Boy Scout with Woodbridge Troop 63. On October 18th, the New Haven Coalition for Active Transportation (NHCAT) led a workshop for our Troop about bike safety in preparation for our cycling trip around Manhattan the following Sunday. Karen Jenkins and Greg Ledovsky taught us about proper helmet fit, hand signaling, bike positioning, bike anatomy, the ABC Quick Check, and what should be in your biking backpack. The Scouts asked questions about correctly timing gear changes, changing a tire, and repositioning a chain after it comes off. The session helped us get more comfortable with and excited about our big ride.
We got up at six in the morning on October 24th to ride our bikes to Union Station and meet the rest of the Troop by 8 a.m. Once we confirmed that all 10 scouts, one sister, and 7 parent chaperones were present and accounted for, we took a 2 hour train ride to Harlem!
We got off at the 125th Street stop on Metro North Railroad. Once we carried our bikes down the stairs and were reminded of some basics of riding in the city, we were off! We rode west on 126th Street from Park Avenue, using the dedicated cycling lane. Upon arrival at the West Harlem Piers, we took some pictures with the George Washington Bridge in the background. After confirming once again that all our bikes were in good shape, we rode south on the Hudson River Greenway.
We took brief stops at 96th and 72nd Street to make sure that the group was together and everyone was comfortable with our pace of about 10 miles an hour. At the 42nd Street Pier, we took a longer break to refuel and to watch the boarders in action at the skatepark.
Our next stop was at the 9-11 Memorial. We were silent for a couple of minutes at the twin reflecting pools out of respect for the people who sadly passed away that day. It was pretty cool to see the tree that survived the terror attack. We were about halfway through our ride at this point.
It had started to drizzle and we were getting hungry, so we proceeded on another 5 miles to our Scoutmaster’s Office at the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse. He had made arrangements for us to park our bikes and use the restrooms. For a “break”, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to have a well-deserved lunch at Dallas BBQ. By the time we returned to Manhattan to pick up our bikes we had walked a total of 5 miles!
We had planned to make the United Nations our next stop, but it was getting close to sunset so we opted to head north on the East River Greenway and then on to Grand Central Station. There were only a few more miles to go, but some of us were getting drowsy. One of the kids took a little spill. He wasn’t hurt but his chain came out of place and we had to use the strategies our NHCAT instructors gave us to put it back in place efficiently and effectively. Not long after that, another member of our group fell on his knee. The knee was scratched up pretty bad and we thought it might be dislocated. Fortunately, one of our Scout parents is an Emergency Room Physician. With the help of his First Aid kit, the Doctor patched the knee up and the injured Scout was able to continue the ride.
We moved quickly through Grand Central Terminal in order to catch the 7:02 p.m. train. We weren’t initially able to find one car that could hold all of us and our bikes. Thankfully, a conductor opened a front train car just for us. Then he locked the doors so that they wouldn’t open again until we arrived back in New Haven. We had a train car all to ourselves!
It was nice to relax on the ride home after a tough 12-hour day. We rode over 20 miles and walked 5. The other Scouts and I really enjoyed the trip and we are already planning a new Manhattan route for next year. We are very grateful to the New Haven Coalition for Active Transportation for helping to make our trip such a success!