Commuters turn creative on second day of strike

Shortly before dawn, David Clinton pulled a cinnamon kayak off the rack atop a borrowed car with the hope of dropping it in the water where Newtown Creek sweeps past the end of Metropolitan Avenue in Brooklyn.

But he decided against it, he said. Wednesday's winds were too cold and the currents looked tricky and swift, so Clinton, 28, a visitor from North Carolina, returned to a friend's apartment and drove to Hunters Point, Queens to ride the New York Water Taxi to Manhattan. He told his story as he arrived outside the terminal shortly before noon.

Before trotting to catch the $5 ferry, the technical consultant moved a life vest and other nautical gear from the back seat to the trunk. He planned to see a Broadway matinee after he reached Manhattan.

"I guess it's not the time of year to be original," he said.

Maybe not quite so original as all of that. But the second day of a systemwide transit strike meant that many people -- whether they were coming in from Long Island, the five boroughs or out-of-state -- found themselves taking new paths and conveyances to work, defying idled trains, clogged roads, frigid weather and daunting distances.

Pam Curry, in her mid-50s, used a cane from a former knee injury to help her walk the four miles or so from her home in Jackson Heights to her job at a Manhattan church via the Queensboro Bridge.

There were probably other ways to travel, she said, but she felt walking was the best way to demonstrate support for the striking workers.

For Robert Rhee, 23, of Long Island City, it was a day to wheel out his moped from his art studio, and fill up the tank with 30 parts gasoline and one part oil.

He rode it over the Queensboro Bridge to the East Side gallery where he works as a manager.

"I should actually use it more," Rhee said, adjusting the strap on his yellow helmet before zooming on. "It gets 100 miles to the gallon."

Yoshi Akimoto, 28, of Astoria, relied on his feet instead of fuel, riding his $200 skateboard over the short bridge to Roosevelt Island and then on to the East Side salon where he cuts hair.

"I bought it in California," he said. "On Monday, I wanted to ride across the Queensboro Bridge, but there were too many people. So I carried it all the way. Exhausting. Today I remembered that the tram is still running."

Many felt the same way. The privately operated skyway from Roosevelt Island to the East Side found room Tuesday for as many as 9,000 commuters instead of the usual 2,000, and was on track to meet or break that all-time record by the end of Wednesday, said cabin attendant Patrick Grottano.

"This is my first time taking the tram," said Reese Hightower, 29, a manager at an American Girl Place doll store in Manhattan, who walked the mile or so to the tram station from her home in Long Island City. She was surprised to learn that the ticket she needed was a bus-and-subway MetroCard.

"It feels good to use the MetroCard again," she said. "It works for me."

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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