Spring 2002, p.22

Commuter Profile: Rudy Buenafe

Name: Rudy Buenafe
Occupation: Computer Programmer Analyst for the Office of Project Analysis/City Environmental Quality Review at the NYC Department of Transportation
Age: 34
Neighborhood: Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
T.A. member? Not yet
Route: From Colonial Road and 70th Street in Bay Ridge, I take 3rd Avenue (under the Gowanus) to 3rd Street, up to Atlantic Avenue and to the Brooklyn Bridge. Once in Manhattan, I zip down Centre Street to my building at Worth Street. It's almost 10 miles each way, and it usually takes me 35 to 40 minutes.
Bike: Atala road bike
Gear: Standard safety devices-blinking lights, a bell and a helmet (always, always!)
How long commuting? Summer 1998
Wow, you bicycle from Bay Ridge! What inspired you to start?
When I was working in the Bicycling Division of the DOT, John Benfatti, the Bike Program Director at the time, told me that he and other co-workers biked to work (in John's case, sixteen miles one way every day). I thought that this was insane at the time, even though I used to be a racer. But, I fell in love with it right away once I actually decided to give it a shot. Now I do it because it's the easiest and fastest way to get to work. Plus, I get a great workout and see interesting neighborhoods.
My family was initially less than thrilled. But, after they learned that I escaped lower Manhattan on my bike on September 11, they warmed up to the idea. Now I take my seven-year-old son out on a tag-a-long after work, and my wife sometimes joins us on her new bike.
When did you first start bicycling?
I watched the Tour de France in the early 1980s and was really inspired. A friend of mine already raced, so I sort of fell into it. It was tough, but I stuck with it for two years.
What's it like to bike in from Bay Ridge?
Though I usually take 3rd Avenue, biking in Brooklyn in general is less hectic and quieter than Manhattan.
Do you have a special riding outfit?
In the cold weather, I wear insulated bicycling clothing. In the summer, I stick to the spandex shorts and jerseys. I also use toe clips. I get teased a lot by my co-workers but it makes me feel good to wear the right gear.
I bring my work clothes with me in my backpack and shower and change at a nearby New York Sports Club. I see a lot of people doing the same thing and it seems like more people would start commuting if both public and private companies provided better parking and shower facilities. The DOT is doing its best to create more bike lanes-and it's not an easy task!-but the lack of parking and shower facilities is a really big deterrent.
Lock: I use two Kryptonite chain locks.
Parking: There is a special facility with cameras in the basement of my office building. When I use my bike to do site visits, I lock it on the street.
Do you ride in all weather?
I ride through the winter. I also ride in the rain in the summer, but not in the winter.
Riding style: I ride hard but I'm also very observant, especially of pedestrians. Some people even fault me for being too cautious!
Best commute: I love the whole experience, especially the view of the city and the sky on the Brooklyn Bridge-seeing the sun go up and down. I also feel especially good when I have the opportunity to help other cyclists with flat tires.
Worst commute: Recently, a motorist on 3rd Avenue under the BQE intentionally cut me off in a really dangerous way. I had to slam on my brakes and nearly flew over the handlebars.
Advice: Don't be afraid to try commuting! It's sublimely simple. You're missing out on an incredible daily experience; it's easy and a constant source of delight as you pass through neighborhoods and under skies you'd probably wouldn't ever otherwise see.

Read more commuter profiles.