When did you start cycling in New York City?
I moved to New York in 1982 and probably started seriously commuting by bike the next year. Learning to be a safe rider and an everyday rider was a gradual process. Back then you had to be an offensive rider to be a safe rider. It took a degree of aggressiveness. Of course, that’s long before the bike lanes and everything else that’s come. Eventually, bike commuting became part of my personality. To a certain extent, it defined me, and T.A. was this pro-biking organization. I’ve been a member and supporter ever since.|
What’s your favorite thing about being a Transportation Alternatives member? At first it was the discounts at bike shops. I was young and every dollar helped. Then it was the NYC Century Bike Tour. It was so exciting to me. I was always an intrepid urban cyclist. I loved exploring different neighborhoods, and the Century tied all my adventures into a neat bow. I saw how all of these rides were connected and how the city was one big whole. Also, to see the crazy diversity of the riders was wonderful. It really struck me as reflective of NYC’s residents.
What about now? After all these years, what keeps you enrolled as a T.A. member? Well, the streets are much better for biking and walking, but really, I see membership as part of my civic duty. You vote, you give to public radio, you subscribe to the newspaper and you support T.A.’s efforts to make streets safer. It’s inconceivable that I wouldn’t be a member at this point in my life.
Has being a T.A. member changed your life? That’s a high bar! I’ve definitely got the street cred that comes with a card saying I’m T.A. member number 636, and it’s much easier to get around now than it was back then, but I think the biggest change came through a work connection. Up until last year, I was a Senior Program Officer at the Brooklyn Community Foundation. We were one of the first big supporters of the Biking Rules! campaign, and it was only after we made the grant that I understood how prescient and important T.A.’s efforts to educate cyclists were. The bike lanes were built, and the new cyclists came—and with bike share about to start this spring—that kind of campaign has really changed the way I ride, and the way I interact with other street users.
STUART POST HAS BEEN A T.A. MEMBER
SINCE THE EARLY 1980s.
Image courtesy Andrew Hinderaker
How? It was through T.A. that I realized we weren’t independent operators. When one of us screws up, we all screw up. I think T.A. helps people realize that if we’re going to keep these hard-won privileges, then we have to use them responsibly. I often have the voice of T.A. inside my brain, thinking, “I don’t have to escalate this.” One can use humor and be friendly—a smile can go further than an f-you.
What has changed the most since you became a member? When I started cycling from my apartment in the East Village to work in Downtown Brooklyn in the late 1980s, I’d pass five or six people on the Brooklyn Bridge. That’s total: all the cyclists and all the pedestrians. It was empty and beautiful, and I often miss that. Being a bike commuter used to be really odd. You were more or less alone, but now it’s crowded and every bike shop is filled with bikes for city riding. The market has responded to all the changes. Biking is for everyone. That’s the biggest change. Biking is for everyone and some mornings, it seems like they’re all on the Brooklyn Bridge. Thank god there’s the Manhattan Bridge.