The commute from home to my day job is about 8-1/2 miles. It is filled with a few perilous moments, many of these are sort of predictable, like when you know some tricky turns are coming up on a bobsled course. You just prepare as best as you can. It's the unscripted events that can throw you, literally.
I gauge how dangerous my trip is by how many times I have to raise my voice to avoid being sideswiped, hit or otherwise killed. Generally, its 2 per trip.
One of the most dangerous parts of my return trip is what I like to call "The 2nd Avenue Chute". It's a bit of a white knuckle approach, similar to what pilots must experience when landing at a tough runway (except I don't have 180 people on board). The thing is, I know its coming, and I know the 2 ways it can play out. Even now, 6 hours or so away from my evening commute, I am visualizing it.
It starts out good enough...a great run in a bike lane down 2nd Ave. Many people use this bike lane to check their i-phones and make truck deliveries, but this is to be expected and is no better/worse than the rest of the bike lanes in Manhattan.
Essentially, 2nd Ave forks at Houston street, and if you want to take the left fork and continue south on Chrystie Street, you have to edge you way into traffic to get lined up in the bike lane that is in the middle of the street. The pictures below don't do it justice, as its usually choked with cars, trucks and busses.
How it can play out is this:
- If I hit a red light 3-4 blocks north of the fork, I can then move in front of the stopped traffic and position myself for a 2 block mad sprint to the finish line.
- If I am "lucky", and don't hit any red lights, I am forced to merge live across 3 lanes of angry traffic.
Complicating matters is that vehicles approaching this fork are generally beginning to realize that they need to get to the other fork than the one that they're in, causing lots of unannounced and skittish lane changes.