Why Eldrid Rides

Enjoy this special Tuesday installment of Streetsblog’s Why I Ride series.

bike portrait by dmitry gudkov

Photo copyright Dmitry Gudkov

Eldrid was born in Hawaii and moved to Queens after getting out of the Air Force in the 1960s. He bought his first New York bike, a light-weight 3-speed, shortly thereafter. A tinkerer and collector, he’s had two or three bikes in various states of repair at any given time since then. Cycling has become an increasingly important part of his life. At 73, he suffers from serious arthritis and can no longer walk long distances. “I used to swim a lot but now that’s hard too. Riding my bike is the only way for me to get any kind of intensive exercise.”

Nearly every day, he drives from his home in Jackson Heights to Flushing Meadows Corona Park, takes the bike out of the trunk, and pedals through the park. It is one of the few places in the city he feels comfortable riding. “I prefer to stay away from car traffic. Prospect Park, Central Park, they’re okay, but this is the only place that never allows cars.” He does ride in the street every once in a while, on the 34th Ave bike lane in Queens, but often finds it blocked by double-parked cars. “Then I just ride around, usually on the sidewalk.” Eldrid thinks that folding bikes, compact and portable, are a great option for the city. He also doesn’t believe in spending a lot of money on bikes. “I grew up poor, so I usually buy the cheapest thing and fix it up if I need to.” This was the case with the folding bike pictured here — Eldrid used parts from another bike to replace the suspension and the gears. “It’s a piece of junk,” he says. “But it’s keeping me alive.”