I recently picked up a bicycle here in NYC and have been biking around a lot, mostly in Queens and Brooklyn. It’s amazing to be able to travel by bike again (so much faster than walking! So much cheaper than subway!) but funny how different it is here in NYC compared to biking in Hangzhou. In New York, there are potholes galore, as well as a million one-way streets and bike lanes that are sometimes on the right and sometimes on the left of those one-way streets. It’s rather confusing. It feels safe enough biking in Queens and Brooklyn since the traffic isn’t nearly as heavy as Manhattan’s, especially on the small residential streets, so mostly I find myself watching out for car doors and other cyclists who don’t always follow the road rules (skimming through red lights, riding the wrong way up a one-way, etc.) There’s a bike-share system here, Citibike, which I hear is rather decent but they aren’t available up in my area of Queens. A lot of what I’ve seen of Queens is rather residential with parks along the East River—Socrates Sculpture Park, Astoria Park, Gantry State Park—and then power plants along the west and north with some factories further south. Of Brooklyn, even more factories but taller apartment buildings and condos, longer stretches of commercial businesses.
In Hangzhou, though, on the main roads, the bike lane is completely separate from car traffic (although e-bikes and bike traffic is maybe 10x what it is here!) and people pretty much always stop at the red lights due to the amount of cars that are crossing. Oftentimes, you find yourself weaving around the assortment of vehicles and pedestrians in the bike lane. I’d say it requires more attention, actually, but I think it’s more fun. Less fear of being doored! And fewer highways to cross over or under. There’s a stark difference in neighborhoods in Hangzhou, I think—with the older scenic tea areas and the bustling downtown, parts of the old city and newer construction on the outskirts with little alleyway flea markets and shao kao stands. Biking there often felt like an adventure, especially once you left the roads you always took. Things feel more manageable; the city was built around the bicycles and pedestrians first then the cars. Not that biking around NYC is without adventure, as well, though. On my way to the Gantry State Park, I managed to bump into the LIC Flea & Food which was fun to browse. So many asian-inspired food items (General Tso’s Po-Boy, okonomiyaki, bubble tea) + handmade jewelry, organic soaps, vintage-inspired clothing. A different sort of market than the kind you’d find in Hangzhou.
In writing news, here’s a thoughtful review of What Is Lost along with Michael’s (a fellow Small Beer Press alum!) story, Virtual Goods: http://www.apex-magazine.com/clavis-aurea-9-michael-j-deluca-su-yee-lin-adam-callaway/
I recently finished a story set in Yangshuo although I’m stuck on another story I’d started and have all sorts of ideas for but so far have been failing to figure how to best incorporate those ideas. Maybe a new draft of something will get me out of this slump!