New York City

8 Tips for Safer City Cycling

July 15, 2013 at 11:23 am , by

What do I have in common with Leonardo DiCaprio? Sadly, not much. I’m not a famous Hollywood heartthrob and I’ve never been nominated for an Oscar. But Leo and I share one common interest: bicycling. In fact, we’ve both participated in New York City’s new bike share program by hopping on Citi bikes and pedaling around the Big Apple.

Leo and I aren’t the only ones. Since New York’s bike share program launched a little more than a month ago, New Yorkers have pedaled more than 1.28 million miles, which is enough to bike to the moon 5.3 times. Similar programs are catching on in other cities, too. Chicago’s bike share program launched in June, San Francisco’s program will debut in August and Portland will add a program next spring. There are currently more than 12 established bike shares nationwide.

Convenience is the main reason these programs are catching on, says Susi Wunsch, founder of the bicycling website The bikes are available year-round at all hours of the day, and customers can pay to rent a bike for a short period of time, or they can buy a weekly or monthly pass.

Although urban cycling is a healthy, eco-friendly and economical alternative to public transportation, there are some risks involved. Most  accidents happen when bikers slam into a car door that someone is opening, says orthopedic surgeon James N. Gladstone, M.D., co-chief of sports medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. (A good reminder to look first before you open one!) Another is when drivers make illegal right turns from the left lane. When these accidents happen, bikers risk road burn, kneecap bruising, fractures of the collarbone and wrists—and sometimes worse injuries.

Before you test your pedaling prowess on busy streets, Susi suggests you practice on roads with less car traffic and always ride at your own pace. Once you do gear up to cycle next to traffic, be sure to follow these tips to stay safe and get the most out of your spin:

1. Ride in a straight line. It’s tempting to cheat traffic lights or cut close corners, but Gladstone warns against swerving or zig-zagging through traffic. You never know when someone in a car will suddenly change lanes without signaling or rush through a light. You should also ride in the same direction of traffic, not against it.

2. Use hand signals when changing directions. They might look a little silly, but they’re important to ensure that other cyclists and drivers know which way you’re turning. Refresh your memory on the standard hand signals here.

3. Avoid the “door zone.” Ride at least four feet away from parked vehicles or cabs to avoid car doors that open unexpectedly.

4. Don’t ride distracted. “Sure, having your earbuds in makes for a nice ride, but it’s not smart in the city streets,” Gladstone says. And, of course, don’t text and bike.

5. Ring the bell. They aren’t just for kids! Use a bell to warn other cyclists, drivers and pedestrians of your approach.

6. Get a helmet that fits. The best helmets sit level on your head about two finger-widths above your eyebrows. And only two fingers should fit beneath the chinstrap. Bike share programs don’t provide helmets, so you’ll need to bring your own.

7. Look up and look ahead. Don’t just look down! Gladstone says a lot of bikers keep their eyes on the road, but instead need to be aware of traffic lights, doors of parked cars and potholes.

8. Stay visible. Wear bright colors, or even a fluorescent neon vest if you feel so inclined. You want to be sure that everyone you share the road with can see you (even if you’re not Leonardo DiCaprio). 

Update From LHJ In Sandy’s Aftermath

October 31, 2012 at 11:23 am , by

The photo above is from yesterday on Third Avenue in my neighborhood where the power is out. Lines were out the door at the one bodega open—lit by candles! The only traffic was a convoy of National Guard vehicles.

Hello from New York in the wake of Sandy! It’s been a stressful few days, but as usual, New Yorkers are tough and resourceful. A handful of us who could walk are here at the LHJ office today. Others who couldn’t get in are working from home, if they have power.

I live downtown where the power went off Monday night about 8 pm and I’ve been playing Pioneer Woman since then. It was fascinating to walk north this morning from No-Man’s-Land to the Promised Land—the land of milk and honey and hot coffee. And heat and internet access and cell service and toilets that flush. It does remind me how delicate and vulnerable our infrastructure is, and that we cannot take it for granted. That’s my deep thought for the day.

Meanwhile, I need to find a hair salon since it’s been awhile since I had a shower. (I had smart advice from a Gulf Coast relative experienced at hurricanes: buy organic baby wipes for basic cleaning while the shower is not an option.) I’ve been asked to fill in on the Today Show tomorrow, so good hair is important. I’ll be taping a segment on Germs that will run on Friday in the always fun and wacky Hoda and Kathie Lee hour. Tune in if you can!

Featured Book Club – New York City

September 28, 2012 at 2:27 pm , by

Book club at its most basic is already a great time – diving into a delicious read over wine and snacks with good friends (with breaks in between for gabbing about other things, of course). But if you’re ready to take your meetings to the next level, take a note from this club in New York City. These gals truly value their book club friendships and know how to have fun. Plus, they have matching T-shirts! Adorable!

Is there anything special you do for each meeting or on occasion?
“We meet at a different member’s apartment each month. Whoever is hosting sends out an email with suggestions for snacks and wine for other the members to bring. Wine and cheese (and dessert!) are a must!

Also, once a year, we have book club mixer—when each member is allowed to bring a guest (boy or girl) to our meeting. That’s twice the attendance, twice the wine, and twice the opinions! It’s always a lively one!  We also have an annual book club sleepover. We don’t exactly discuss a book (okay, we don’t at all), but we all get together, play games, and have an old-fashioned slumber party at a member’s apartment. Another highlight of being in the club!” - Jillian Wohlfarth

What’s your favorite book you’ve read together and why?
“Some of my personal favorites (because of the books themselves and our discussions of them) include The Dive from Clausen’s Pier, Bel Canto, Amy and Isabelle, The Dogs of Babel, and Zeitoun. I love when girls leave a meeting thinking differently about a book after our discussion.”- Jennifer Director

“We’ve had a lot good ones through the years, but I have to say my favorite book was Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. It’s about a family that survives Hurricane Katrina. I actually didn’t have time to read the book in time for our meeting, but was so moved by our discussion that I went out and bought it the next day!” – Danielle Rabin

Everyone’s super busy these days. Why is it important to you to make time to read and then get together?
 “This group of girls has become more than just a book club – we’re friends. I like having something to keep me on top of reading and enjoy our good conversations about the books we read, but I also count on book club as a place to share and celebrate/vent about life updates, learn from everyone else who are far more versed in pop culture than me, give advice, and laugh.” – Katie Dunn

“That’s just it. We’re all so busy. So it’s so important to make time for friends and stimulating discussion. My girlfriends are my biggest support system and release in the city, and knowing that I get to see them, chat, and learn from (and about them) once a month is a must. I look forward to book club every month, it’s always so bolstering. We’re lucky to have girls from all different industries, relationship statuses, families, etc. — so our book discussions are always full of great perspectives and insights. It’s also really nice to take focus off of work and enjoy some personal reading time. Book club ensures that I make pleasure reading a priority.” - Jillian Wohlfarth

Interested in a chance at having your book club featured on our blog or in the magazine? Tell us about your group here!

I Did Yoga WHERE?

June 21, 2011 at 4:03 pm , by

It’s been a mere three weeks, but I’ve already decided I love the energy and excitement of New York City. As the new editorial intern at Ladies’ Home Journal, I have moved to the city for the summer. Every day, there’s something new to do or see. I’ve explored museums, shopped at discount department stores, watched free movies in the park and eaten the most delicious cupcakes. Yet as much as I enjoy living here, it can get really overwhelming. The subway is dirty and hot and crowded. The streets smell like garbage, which piles up on the sidewalks. Vendors constantly pester you to buy their hot dogs and knock-off purses. Taxi drivers honk nonstop, and the noise is so bad, I have to wear earplugs when I sleep.

It’s hard to achieve a sense of calm with all this insanity around me. So when a friend suggested we attend a yoga event on the Solstice, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to slow down. The only catch was that it took place on the asphalt in the middle of Times Square. (That’s me, to the right, getting my “om” on.) I was skeptical of how calm I could feel in the busiest of all busy intersections. But when else would I get do yoga in the heart of New York City?

The instructor jumped up on stage at 7:30 a.m. and got us started to the sounds of Alicia Keys’s re-mixed, relaxing version of “Empire State of Mind.” For the next hour and 15 minutes, it was just me and my yoga mat… and more than 1,000 others in my “class.”

Surprisingly, all the hustle and bustle faded away as I curled into cat, pushed back into downward dog, stretched into warrior and balanced in tree pose. I had somehow reached my center through all the madness. I realized if I could relax in Times Square, I could relax anywhere.

I ended lying on my back, feeling like a true yogi. As I slowly rose from the mat, the sun began to peek around the skyscrapers. The buses and taxis sounded a little louder; the neon signs shined a little brighter. It was back to reality, but I couldn’t stop smiling. I had just found peace and tranquility in the most unlikely of places. Invigorated, refreshed and relaxed, I was ready to start the day.

Plight Of The Honey Bee

May 11, 2010 at 4:22 pm , by

3712117235_7d9c7f3f50While most city dwellers dream of adopting a dog or a cat to live with them in their cramped NYC apartments, I have a different dream. My dream is bees. Uh-huh, you heard correctly. Bees. Confused? Don’t “bee” (Ha, ha—I couldn’t resist.)

It started years ago, during a saturday morning stroll through my local greenmarket. I spied a bottle that read “New York City Honey.” Honey in the city? Surely it must be imported from a neighboring county or state…NYC doesn’t have hives, right? Wrong! Our urban oasis is littered with honey bee hives, mostly housed on rooftops and tucked away in secret community gardens. From the Bronx to Brooklyn and boroughs in between, (formerly) renegade beekeepers have been housing bees and reaping the benefits (honey) for years. Until recently, keeping bees within the limits of New York City had been deemed illegal as they were considered to be too dangerous, but in March, the city’s board of health voted to lift the ban, so my dream may end up becoming a reality.

A boom in backyard beekeeping couldn’t be coming at a better time. Honey bees have been in the media a lot lately, with reports of colony collapse disorder (when a large number of honey bees go missing) becoming more widespread. This has prompted companies, like Haagen Daz and Burt’s Bees, to launch bee survival campaigns. It might not sound like a big deal, but bees help pollinate many of the crops that we feed ourselves with. This is the draw for many an urban and suburban beekeeper.

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