To replace my beautiful vintage Peugeot that was destroyed in a dooring incident, I recently purchased a Brompton folding bicycle off of Craigslist. It's a lovely piece of engineering, and it folds up small enough to sneak it through the security checkpoint at my office (the building security maintains that they won't allow any type of bicycle, even of the folding variety, past the entryway).
Because of its amazing compactness, I don't have to fret about leaving the Brompton locked outside. It's small enough to carry into grocery stores or coffee shops � I even sat it under that table at Spitzer's in the LES one night. And it's an amazing conversation piece. I'm stopped on the street at least daily by folks who want to know what it is and where to buy one.
While the Brompton has received an overwhelmingly positive reception from people who in most cases probably don�t consider themselves pro-bike, I did have one stunningly negative response from a group of fellow train-riders. My primary reason for getting the Peugeot, and then the Brompton, is because Metro North still doesn't allow full-sized bikes on most trains.
When I have the Brompton with me, I sit in one of the end rows and, since the folded Brompton is smaller than your average roller-bag carry-on suitcase, it fits comfortably in the gap between the seat and the aisle.
Last week, on my way into work in the city, a group of women boarding in Milford edged into the three adjoining seats. As she tugged at her too-tight khaki capris, their ringleader glared at the Brompton at my feet and commented to her fellow commuters how it was "dangerous" to allow such things on the train
Refusing to make eye contact with me, her friends proceeded to agree that it was risky to allow such an item on the train and how upset they were that the conductor didn�t ask me to take it off.
Their conversation then shifted to how awful the traffic was these days and how one of them had spent an hour yesterday in her SUV stuck in traffic on Route 34.
In no way was my folded Brompton posing any risk to this group of women, and the vitriol in their reaction shocked me. I guess it�s a good reality check about the extent of anti-bike bias that persists in our country, a highly illogical and emotional reaction that that continues to thrive despite the well-established truths that biking is good for your physical health while increased driving results in traffic and pollution.
Photos: Profile of a folded Brompton and a birds-eye view of a folded Brompton (from the Brompton website).

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