I've already confessed to fetishising bikes so finding NYC absolutely titillating will come as no surprise.
Mayor Bloomberg's award-winning work has made the five boroughs easy for cyclists , (I assume for the fact that one would need to be rich/mad/ostensibly patient to even consider driving) which means that NY is now awash with bicycles.
A bike is moored to a post every few metres. Each has its unique character: some are bawdy and over the top, others technological perversities; there are elegant fixies, and sissy bars and banana saddles galore.
Beyond simply painting the tarmac green and hoping for the best, the City has constructed dedicated bike lanes that isolate cyclists from other traffic. It means the chances of being run off the road by an angry bus or cab are lower and cyclists are guarded from surprise 'clothesline-style' dismounts (opening-car doors frighten the hell out of me).
Glorious pedestrian-free lanes that safely deliver over bridges, maps, bike fashion parades, guitar-shaped bike racks, bike clubs, big signs, greenways - not just being utilised by the slightly mad and fit, but by Nannas, business people, students, littler kids. Almost everybody in NYC is riding a bike - hallelujah!
[This said, the fact that I saw at most two people wearing stack hats was a little worrying, the whole ' I don't have to wear a helmet - you can make me' ethos must be firmly entrenched in the Bill of Rights...somewhere.]
Sydney could have all this and more. And while progress is being made, it is excruciatingly slow. People are still not confident enough to commute, when it comes to creating bike infrastructure it absolutely must be case of 'build it and they will come'.
We all know that bikes can save the world - obesity, peak oil, emissions, mental health etc. etc. - yet there is still widespread resistance. Silly duffers on Burke street protesting because they'll lose their car spot and obstructionist 'can't-do, won't-do' attitudes from unimaginative councillors means that rather than burgeoning into a progressive cosmopolitan city, Sydney will inevitably be known as a dirty, congested cesspit of a city. Particularly as the population swells in numbers (and size - yes, I mean fatter).
It's a calamity. But not hopeless. Doing your bit is easy.
1. Get your rocks-off with bike porn for a little inspiration - I will upload the best of mine and there is more here http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=126567&id=630785807
2. Get on yer' bike (especially all those duffers spending thousands of dollars on 'Boot-Camp' every morning - if you just rode to work your bum would be hard within weeks, you'd get to sleep in, save money and not undergo ritual public humiliation)
3. Have a whinge
Enjoy. And sincere apologies to my NY colleagues, pausing every few metres while I took pictures of bikes must have been really, really annoying - but you'll be 'right ;)