July/August 1998, p.17

Commuter of the Month: Zdenek Kriz

Occupation: Lighting designer.
Neighborhood: Cobble Hill, Brooklyn
How Long Bike Commuting: Since 1989. There was a big reconstruction on the 2 and 3 line. I lived on the Upper West Side and was doing a show on west 4th street at the People's Playhouse. At night, it took two-and-a-half hours to get home. One night it took three-and-a-half hours, and I got so mad that the next day I went to Second Avenue (you could get a bike on the street there in those days) and bought a bike.
Bike: 1993? Blue GT Outpost mountain bike. The first new bike I've had since age 8.
Theft: My first bike in New York got stolen after two years. I got my replacement bike from the street too, and two years later it got stolen. Then I realized when you buy a bike from the street you buy bad karma, because the bike has to be stolen. So I bought a nice new bike, and it's worked - the bike hasn't been stolen since.
Biking Highs: The best experience is just from riding, the satisfaction it gives you just from moving fast, powered by your own body, without gas, electricity or anything. That's the biggest satisfaction.
Biking Lows: The worst experiences stem from total disrespect by either drivers or pedestrians. 70% of the drivers don't use blinkers and suddenly they cut in front of you.
Philosophy: The Mayor is ordering people to be polite. It's nonsense; you can't order it. But I wish people would think about it. Drivers must respect bikers as people and part of traffic. Pedestrians jaywalk in front of a bike, but they wouldn't if it were a car.
Riding Style: I'm pretty cautious. I don't race in front of cars. I slow for intersections and for pedestrians. Sometimes when you're in a rush, you take some risks, but I think nothing is so important that you have to risk your life or the lives of others.
Routes: Sometimes I look for streets with less traffic, even if I'm in a rush. I'll avoid streets like central midtown. The greenway along the Hudson will be great.
Gear: Headlight, taillight, water bottle and cage. I have a rear rack to carry stuff - from food co-op shopping to lighting cables.
Commute: I commute pretty much everywhere my work takes me, mostly to theaters, or for errands, like buying tea at the Japanese supermarket at 59th St.
Approach to Weather: I don't ride in snow, though it's big fun, but not in a city with cars all around. I don't ride in heavy rain, though sometimes I get caught, and I don't have time to wait two hours for the bus. Mostly I stop for winter. If it's really freezing with big winds, I'll stop.
On The Street: There's a certain glimpse of fraternity among bikers. Every day you go over the bridge, and you meet the same people going against you. Suddenly, you start greeting those people.
Tips: Don't be scared. If you're scared on the road among cars and going extremely slowly, you'll attract accidents. You have to become part of traffic, even if you're in a bike lane. At the same time, you can't ride like you own the street.

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