The “Ahh factor”
“It’s called the ‘ahh factor’. You’re riding your bike through downtown Chicago, and you’re like, ‘Gotta be on it, gotta be an A-cyclist, gotta go fast’. You’re a little bit nervous, ‘the light’s gonna turn, I gotta go, I’m gonna get run over, okay I made it’. And then you get over to the Kinzie Street protected bike lane…’Ahhh, I made it’”. Streets like those get people out on bikes, she declared.
This is exactly the feeling I have when I’m riding up Hudson Street and finally enter the 8th Avenue bike lane, when I reach the protected portion of Flushing Avenue, or when I turn onto the Manhattan Bridge after leaving the traffic at Jay Street during my morning commute. It’s an especially noticeable sensation when I’m taking my daughter up to soccer in Prospect Park and I cross from Plaza Street onto Prospect Park West.
As I experienced in Amsterdam and Copenhagen, when a city builds that “Ahh factor” into all of its cycling infrastructure its citizens don’t even notice they’re feeling it anymore.