In a city where nearly 200,000 people commute by bicycle everyday, it’s not hard to find yourself riding alongside a fellow biker. But you don’t always expect it to happen while riding the ferry to the forgotten borough.
Meredith Sladek, an actor and writer, boards the Staten Island ferry most mornings before dawn and again in the afternoon and pedals to and from her “money” job at a coffee shop uptown. Her messenger bag usually holds newspapers, work clothes, two U-locks, a bag of coffee, perfume, deodorant, and sometimes an extra jacket.
Meredith was no stranger to biking in her native Missouri, but it took a bit of encouragement and a few safety tips from her boyfriend, "Staten Island Pete” (as he’s known on the street), to brave the city’s heavy traffic.
“He was a bike messenger and he helped me realize that as long as I was visible and assertive, there was nothing to be afraid of.”
In spite of dangerous drivers and distracted jaywalkers, Meredith likes being in control of her transportation.
“No trains to wait for, no service changes, no getting stuck in traffic behind a bunch of cars, no worrying about if I have enough money on my Metrocard. Just me and the bike.”
Meredith is an active member of The City’s bike community. She volunteers as a development intern for Transportation Alternatives and though she prefers riding solo, or with a few friends, she does participate in occasional group rides.
“I ride with Bike Staten Island, which does casual group rides every month; kind of like Critical Mass without the name.”
Last year Meredith joined the Five Boro Bike Tour pre-ride, which is typically reserved for the marshals and captains. She got to attend because her boyfriend works for Bike and Roll, who rents bikes to the participants. He had to work the event so he was permitted to do the pre-ride.
“I got to go along. The best part, for me, anyway, was that the pre-ride had beautiful weather, and during the actual event it rained all day.”