Pssst…is anyone there?
I have a secret to tell. I am a claustrophobe. I know I shouldn’t feel like I have something to hide, since there are many with the same fear, some even my own friends. Yet people do pass judgment on other’s fears and rank them in comparison to their own courage in life, so I keep mine in my chest pocket close to my heart. But now that it’s out of the bag, I have another secret to tell. I don’t ride the subway… or elevators either.
Whew… I can breathe a bit better just saying that out loud.
It might not seem clear why my aversion to certain modes of transportation can bring about shame other than that my feeling of normalcy seem compromised. You see, I feel like a hypocrite in some ways. I also happen to be a passionate environmentalist, hippie earth-lover of sorts and educational motivator. I carry around some green guilt because I more often than not DRIVE to work, but only because my beloved B51 bus that crossed the Manhattan bridge to Brooklyn was eliminated for having too few riders. I was one of the few, which in real number s meant 1 in 2000 people a day.
There were few options left for me then: 1) car – convenient but carbon-costly, 2) walk – a great workout but time-consuming and weather-dependent or 3) bike – which I had only successfully done twice in my entire life.
Between the green guilt and the self-imposed pressure to face my claustrophobia, I had to find another way. Now that the weather is getting warmer, I am doing my cardio by walking to and from work. I have also started “buddying up” on the train with work colleagues who also live in Brooklyn, holding their hand as we cross the river underground. But this didn’t seem like enough of a solution.
Two Saturdays ago, I took my bulldog out for her morning walk and was stopped in my tracks by a man calling my attention from across the street. He asked me if I rode a bike, and too embarrassed to admit my lack of experience, I asked him why. He proudly introduced me to the first station of New York City’s long-awaited bike-share program… AND it was across from my apartment! Woohoo ! Could this be the answer to my dilemma? A new way for me to get to work, stay fit, save money and be green. The CitiBike program’s slogan is unlock, ride, return. It seems like a good mantra for me as I face my fear because I have another secret…I am terrified of riding a bike.
For more information on CitiBike’s 300 stations and 6,000 bikes available this May go to
AND for more innovative ideas about urban planning, living and the arts, PLEASE check out: