New York not only has 'mean streets' (as the old adage goes), but they harbor potential pain and suffering too. It's like Death Race out there.
Yesterday I went for a walk down the hill from my apartment to enjoy the peace, solitude, and space of Riverside Park. The day was beautiful--the sun had replaced the gray overcast skies of the past few days, and not only was it pleasantly warm but it was humidity-free! These types of days have been few and far between, so I decided to get out and enjoy it.
I made my way down 116th St. to Riverside Drive, which is a four lane road with a median in the middle. It's pretty busy because it runs parallel to the Henry Hudson Parkway--a part of state highway 9A connecting US Route 9 in Peekskill to the Brooklyn-Battery tunnel in the southern tip of Manhattan--and people must use it as an alternate route. At least as a newcomer to Manhattan and a non-driver, that's my belief. For whatever reason, it can be pretty busy and I always make sure and look both ways (thanks, mom!) and usually don't cross against the light. I want that little white stickman on the post to tell me it's safe and I can come on over to join him.
On this particular day there were numerous cars coming down the road so I waited patiently for the red light and for them to stop. It did and they did. I started out across the crosswalk and suddenly a bicyclist flew through the intersection about three feet in front of me, narrowly missing me in my mind's eye.
Mentally shaking my fist at him and muttering curse words to myself, I continued across looking to see if he had any more friends blasting up behind him. As I passed the medium, I immediately felt this blast of air as a cyclist from the other direction shot past behind me! I jumped and yelled, Shit! Where did HE come from? That was REALLY too close for comfort and I ran the rest of the way to escape anymore possible collisions.
After this near miss, it took me awhile to calm down, I must say. I walked along trying to enjoy the relative safety of the park, but after about 45 minutes I started back home. When I got to 110th St.--another wide street of four lanes across--I again glanced carefully in both directions. The light turned and I started across with a group of other brave souls. Striding ahead and intent on getting home to do some writing, I was almost across... when I stepped in a hole right in front of a yellow cab and almost fell flat on my face! Luckily due to my catlike reflexes and years of experience, I managed to keep from going down--just barely. I only twisted my ankle slightly, and was able to walk it off after a few feet.
But I swear I'm going to develop a phobia about crossing streets---if I don't get killed first!