Why Manny Rides

Here’s the seventh portrait in Streetsblog’s weekly “Why I Ride” series.

Why Manny Rides
Photo copyright Dmitry Gudkov

Originally from the Bronx, Manny now lives in Queens. All told, he’s lived in New York for 58 years and has been cycling here for about 50 of them. During that time he has had about half a dozen bikes, two of which he lost to theft. All were used. “I’ve never bought a new bike in my life. This one I inherited from my brother.”

When I ask how the experience of riding in the city has changed in that time, he tells me that he still faces a lot of the same challenges that he has for decades — crowded streets, being seemingly invisible to drivers, the risk of being doored. Like me, he always keeps a yard of space between himself and parked cars when riding. “I’ve only had a few accidents over the years, but each one has been memorable.” On the other hand, noticeable improvements like the increase in dedicated bike paths have made his life easier. As we ride over the 59th Street Bridge, I ask him what the crossing would have been like 40 or 50 years ago. “You’d have to ride in car traffic. Although it often moved much slower. Believe it or not, you’d still see the occasional horse going across the bridge in those days.”

No fan of the rain, Manny usually leaves the bike at home on wet days. Otherwise, when it comes to his choice of transport, one of the biggest deciding factors is cost. “I drive a car, but gas prices are really high. Fortunately, most of my trips are just a few miles.” Where is he riding today? “I’m going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to look at some landscapes.”