NEW YORK—I’m a fan of most things American-entrepreneur. Not because our innovators and their ideas are always spot on, but their spirit of “do it or die trying” is what made America great. But there are not so great American ideas. Case in point is a venture that seems a bit half-baked: water biking.
A few days ago a man from San Francisco named Judah Schiller did some of what he calls “aquatic biking” on the Hudson River. Schiller was documented in the Daily News pedaling a mountain bike atop yellow floaties from New Jersey to Manhattan.
It was all part of his BayCycle Project on crowd-sourced funding site Indiegogo. Schiller aims to raise $100,000 to further develop the next big thing and take it to the next level. Yes, because America hasn’t had enough of taking it to the next level. We now need bikes that can go where they are not supposed to go—on the water.
Schiller probably seems like a folk hero to some people, especially with the published Daily News photos of him looking like a buff mountain man crossing the Hudson River on his bike without a care in the world, or a life jacket.
It’s just the kind of thing that New Yorkers daydream about. Who wouldn’t want to ride a bike across the East River instead of dodging dazed tourists and doublewide strollers in the bike lane on the Brooklyn Bridge? But alas, we live in the real world where there’s a ferryboat or tourist yacht every seven minutes and the accompanying choppy waves and the danger of being impaled by a hull.
But BayCycle’s website says it is determined to show the world that “the ride doesn’t end at the water’s edge.”
Actually, in New York City, it does. The Hudson and East rivers are heavily traveled by all kinds of vessels—things that belong in the water of one of the largest port cities in the country.
According to the Coast Guard, there are some basic rules that govern the waterways that Schiller might not have been privy to at the time of his joyous ride. Namely, it’s a must to wear a lifejacket and recommended to carry a marine-band radio. If you’re planning on setting a world record as the first person to cross the Hudson on a bike (as Schiller did), documenting the ride, and having media interviews at the finish, the Coast Guard requires a permit.
This is all notwithstanding the dangers presented by the many large vessels that travel up and down the Hudson.
“These are well-traveled areas by ferries, by commercial vessels, and by cruise ships,” a U.S. Coast Guard representative (who hadn’t heard of Schiller) told me by phone. The representative also mentioned there are dangers hidden in the varying tides and current speeds, which could have a “huge impact” on a bicyclist on the Hudson.
Schiller (who I have not met nor spoken to) writes on his BayCycle project website that he “has a dream,” and it is called water-biking.
At the risk of contradicting myself, I can’t resist to say dream on Judah Schiller. But next time you come to New York City, bring a life jacket.