This past windy and chilly Sunday morning, I dusted off the ole road bike and rode to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. It was a neighborhood I had been very keen on for some time, simply because I never go there. The last time (and perhaps only time) was four years ago. The experience refreshed my memory to say the least.
As expected, Bay Ridge is a very nice, quiet, and residential neighborhood. You have your selection of bars, restaurants, and shops along 3rd and 5th avenues. Meanwhile, the rest of the area is covered with charming houses, especially on Shore Road.
When riding around, one can barely the ignore the sight of the massive Verrazano Bridge. It's an impressive bridge, no doubt. As it should be. It's the longest bridge in the Western Hemisphere. The only thing more impressive than the bridge itself is the big mystery on the other side - the forgotten borough, Staten Island, just within reach.
New Yorkers are a proud breed of people, but not just about the city itself. We definitely carry a lot of "borough pride," too. It'd be hard for anyone to attest to that. Pride aside, we infamously agree to take jabs at Staten Island if given the opportunity, but how much do we really know about it?
Besides my knowledge of the Wu-Tang Clan's origins, the ex-home of NYC's garbage, and its near secession from NYC back in 1993, I'd completely ignore the Staten Island category on Jeopardy. I know I am not alone on this.
Perhaps, the main reason is transportation. Staten Island is inaccessible without a car and your only chance of getting there is by ferry. The Verrazano is off limits to pedestrians and cyclists for 364 days of the year. The only time anything else gets across is during the TD Five Boro Bike Tour. Given my lack of familiarity with the borough, it was the part I looked forward to the most earlier this year. Once on the island, I did find pockets of streets or neighborhoods that sparked an interested for a later visit.
Advocacy groups are making efforts for the construction of a pedestrian and bike pathway on the bridge. It would make Staten Island definitely more accessible for the willing. You can help turn this into a reality by signing this petition.
Since the tour, I haven't been back. The thought of taking a day trip to discover and learn more about the forgotten borough has crossed my mind a few times. Whether it's before the end of this year or the start of the next, you can bet a camera is coming with me.