Out Riding Fences

I’ve made a small handful of intelligent decisions over the course of my life, and one of them is living next to a very large park. Now that we’re all under house arrest, I visit this park pretty much daily. My older son is also at the point where he wants to ride his bike alone, so what we’ll do is head to the park, set a designated meeting place and time, and then I cut him loose.

Yesterday evening, while my son was tearing around the park, I stationed myself next to the lake, which I featured in a photograph not too long ago:

See that blue bridge in the background? That’s the start (or end, depending on how you look at it) of a trail that runs along a former railroad line. If you zoom in or squint, you may also see that it’s surrounded by a chain link fence. That’s because the trail is in the process of being paved, and is currently closed.

Anyway, that’s where I was waiting, and after awhile I noticed someone was calling to me from inside the chain link fence. I headed over and found a bicycle delivery worker. (I knew he was a bicycle delivery worker because of his e-bike and his DoorDash bag.) He could not exit the trail due to the fence, and was quite flustered.

I tried to ascertain how the delivery worker had accessed the trail in the first place, since the entire length of it is currently fenced in, but the language barrier was even more insurmountable than the fence itself. The trail runs from the spot in which we were standing to the city line, roughly a mile and a half away, and as far as I know that’s pretty much the only place you can still get in, though it requires a little mountain biking. So I suspected that was where he’d gotten in. Alas, “It’s far!” was all he was able to say by way of explanation, but those two words were sufficient to confirm my suspicions, and to convey the urgency of the situation: no doubt he’d ridden a mile and a half down a woodland trail in order to start making his deliveries, only to find himself with no other option to extricate himself but to backtrack and forfeit whatever jobs he had lined up on the delivery app.

As I stood there trying to figure out a solution, I could see a lightbulb appear over the incarcerated rider’s fence, and in words and pantomime he made it clear he wanted me to help him get over the fence. Running some quick calculations, I estimated the fence was probably around eight feet high, and that his e-bike weighed at least 50 pounds. These two quantities would most likely add up to a severely injured bike blogger, but as our economy dies on the vine and people struggle to feed themselves I figured a fence was a small hurdle to leap in order to put this guy back in business.

The fence was gated, and so by stepping on a hinge I was able to reach the top of it. The delivery worker hoisted his front wheel to the top of the fence, and I grabbed the rim. He then pushed the rest of the bike up and onto the top of the fence, the links sagging beneath its considerable weight.

At this point I became aware of the sound of fireworks exploding, which meant it was now 7:00pm. (In the Bronx the “7:00 Clap” is the “7:00 BOOM!”) It was also time for me to meet my son in another part of the park, which lent our project additional urgency. With the bike now teetering on top of the fence like a cow after a failed escape attempt, the delivery worker climbed the gate and lifted it over as I attempted to steady the front end. There was a moment where I thought I was going to get crushed to death by an e-bike, which would have made for a fine New York Post headline, but the delivery worker joined me in the nick of time and we brought the machine in for a soft landing. He thanked me graciously, and the fist bump we shared seemed thrillingly transgressive in this current climate of social distancing.

So if you ordered in last night, you’re welcome.


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