New York Fashion Week officially started yesterday. But for most of us, it really started on Wednesday. Or Tuesday. Which means jam-packed schedules that require lots of traveling from uptown to downtown, east side to west side. And then back uptown.
Happily, Citi Bike exists, which in my opinion is the next best thing to hiring your own driver. Seriously, it's a wonderful bike-sharing service that just happens to have lots of stations peppering the far west side of the city, which is where the majority of non-Lincoln Center shows are staged.
Of course, the system is not perfect. To make sure you get the most out of Citi Bike this season, I've put together a list of tips and tricks that'll make it worthwhile.
1. Wear a helmet. It's true: even when you get the cute ones, they're not that cute. And it might seem silly to wear a helmet for 10 blocks in relatively-safe Chelsea. If you don't want to wear one, that's your prerogative—it's not a law or anything. But given that it's fashion week, you're going to be frazzled and hectic and probably a little less cautious than normal on the road. So I say, buy a nice bag and carry your helmet from show to show. It'll give you some peace of mind.
2. If you're going to wear a skirt, consider some sort of bike-short situation. I don't always do this, and the result is that I occasionally, unintentionally flash people on the street. Truthfully, that doesn't really phase me day-to-day because I'm a weirdo/bit of an exhibitionist, but during fashion week things could get REAL embarrassing. American Apparel makes a high-waisted hot short that works pretty well under skirts.
3. Be prepared to get yelled at. People are super angry, and a lot of people really hate Citi Bike, and bikers in general. Today, a guy called another biker and me assholes. (Mostly because we ran a red light, which is super assy, so I don't blame him.) But the point is that there is bike rage just like there is road rage and you've got to be ready for it.
4. Wear your heels, just don't wear your INSANE heels. For me, it's actually easier to bike in low heels than it is to walk in low heels. I'm not suggesting you wear five-inch platforms when biking up the West Side Highway, but just know that your footwear doesn't have to be totally restricted.
5. Make sure your timing is right. Biking can be significantly faster than taking a cab (especially in midtown) or taking the subway (especially across town). But as I said before, Citi Bike is not perfect and sometimes the dock stations are full when you're ready to park. (And sometimes they're empty when you're ready to pick up.) Make sure to allot about 10 minutes extra just in case you have to park in a spot that's a bit further away from where you're going.
6. Map out your ride. Biking is not like walking. You can't just sort of have an idea of where you're going and get there. You need to know every single street and every single turn. I use the New York Bike app for iPhone to make this happen, but there are plenty of options. Even Google maps have bike-specific directions now.
8. Use the bike as a crutch. By that, I mean: you are not going to be able to bike everywhere. For instance, today I had a presentation at 77th Street and Madison Ave. The last Citi Bike dock station is at 59th Street, so it didn't really make sense for me to bike from 37th Street and 8th Avenue and then walk for 20 blocks. I ended up taking a cab from the Garment Center, which took forever. What I should have done was biked over to the 6 train from the West Side and taken the subway up. On my way back downtown I did just that—took the train to 28th Street, hopped on the bike at Lexington Avenue, and was at 27th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues in less than 30 minutes.
9. Bring face blotters. I have always loved the idea of face blotters but have never been committed enough to carry them around. Since I began biking regularly, that's changed. You want to look fresh—but not sweaty—at the shows, and Tatcha blotting papers make that happen. I like Tatcha's in particular because they don't leave any residue and they don't smell weird.
10. Remember, biking equals exercising! The greatest thing about biking around to the shows is that you're filling your 30-minutes-of-cardio quota for the day. It'll give you more energy and keep your spirits high as you slog on from presentation to presentation.