Why Peter Rides

Here’s the latest installment — and first-ever February edition — of Streetsblog’s Why I Ride series.

bike commuter doctor
Photo copyright Dmitry Gudkov

Peter, 33, is a surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital. A lifelong New York area native, he only started bike commuting in May of last year. He lives on 1st Avenue and was encouraged by the expansion of the bike lane there. “Honestly, it was seeing that bike lane every day that made me want to try cycling.” Peter bought an inexpensive hybrid bike and initially just rode around for fun, exploring the city. He quickly realized it would be a useful commuting option (he normally took the bus and walked).

His commute is not very long, maybe a mile or two, but involves multiple destinations. “My day starts at Lenox Hill Hospital to round on my inpatients, then I bike down Park Ave over to my office in Midtown to see office patients. I sometimes go to another office in Washington Heights. I usually ride to 72nd Street and catch the train uptown. When it gets warmer, I’ll probably try biking the whole way.” A couple of rides in wet conditions made him realize the benefit of fenders; he also added a rack and pannier bags to carry his clothes. He said (with a hint of embarrassment) that his next purchase might be a kickstand. “I know it’s kind of frowned upon, but it would just be so convenient.”

Peter’s new cycling experience correlated with another big change: In September, he sold his car. “I lived in Dallas for a year and that was another story, but in New York, owning a car was just a huge luxury. It was costing me around $1,000 a month, I was always worried about parking, and I wasn’t getting much in return – except maybe a softball game or two at Jones Beach.” He has kept up his daily cycle commute even through the recent cold snap. “I wanted to see how long I could keep doing it. I’m too busy to take vacations but I take advantage of my< snowboarding gear to stay warm in the freezing winds. Goggles and snowboarding gloves are amazing! And during the summer, I just biked in scrubs.” He doesn’t yet know many other cyclists in the city and some friends have voiced doubts over the safety of riding in New York. He says his advice to someone thinking about bike commuting is: “Just try it. It’s really not as dangerous as you think.”