I've lived in Manhattan for a rather large chunk of my adult life (I don't live there at the moment), but one thing I can say about it is that it is an extremely dangerous place. I don't mean this in the context of one being at risk of getting mugged (or worse), though that is always a possibility, though more remote now than say, ten years ago. I mean crossing the street, waiting for the subway, or merely walking...that's dangerous. Consider: Manhattan is a twelve mile island, inhabited by 1.1 million people. During the business week during working hours, that number swells to four or five million people....all on this little island. The island is entire too small for this many people to be on it at any given time, so you see accidents all the time. Some of these accidents can be quite grisly. Three years ago, I had the misfortune of witnessing the after-effects of a garbage truck hitting a woman crossing at the intersection of 6th Avenue and 23rd St. Not to put too fine a description on it, but let's just say that there was little doubt that she was DOA, since her remains were all over 6th Avenue. On Wednesday of this past week, I saw at the corner of 42nd and 3rd an accident site involving a city bus and a civilian. Again, little doubt that the person hit by the bus survived. Awful stuff.
Forgive this morbid post, but I wanted to record my impressions of these accidents just to remind myself to look both ways while crossing the street and have a healthy respect for the traffic in Manhattan...and elsewhere, for that matter. I used to bike quite a bit through the streets of the city. One time, some friends and I decided we'd have a race from Sheep's Meadow in Central Park back to our apartment on 26th and 3rd. To add a little spice to the story, we'd been drinking and, er, smoking. (Smoking what, you may ask?) With abandon, we all took off in a mad dash, each taking alternate routes, to win the bet. I went through the tunnel on Park Avenue, under Grand Central Station, just to cut some time off my journey. (I did this on a bike!?!) Thankfully, it was a Sunday and a low traffic day. We all made back alive and in one piece, but I think back now, and it seems like we were really tempting fate. It wasn't the first or last time that we did such things, but given my subsequent knowledge of how easy one can be cut down by cars and/or trucks in the city, I shake my head at the bravery/stupidity of such endeavors. They were, however, pretty damn fun.