You Had to Be Cautious or Be Crazy
Amy Hargreaves of Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why” talks about biking in New York in the 90s, and why cycling is her favorite to commute
When did you start riding a bike in New York?
I remember riding through Times Square in the 90s. I used to go to auditions on a bike. But then I got pregnant and stopped because I felt it was too risky. Only recently I started riding again, my own bike at first, and then when Citi Bike came to my neighborhood, I started riding a lot. It’s been a slow ramp-up in the last two years, but Citi Bike really helped explode my riding.
Has cycling in New York City changed since then?
In the 90s, it was the kind of the Wild West. You had to be cautious or be crazy. I always tried to be cautious, but you really were on your own. It’s come a long way since then. Just having protected bike lanes on the avenues, like 8th, 9th, and 1st, helps enormously. I use those all the time. Of course, you still have to be super careful at intersections, because people turn through those bike lanes, and that’s a big risk, and you should also be cautious of pedestrians who step into the bike lane, but it’s so much safer than it was.
What kind of bike do you ride?
I have two bikes in my basement, in my bike room, but honestly the bike I ride the most is Citi Bike. Right now, I’m spending a lot of time in the Bay Area, shooting season two of “13 Reasons Why,” and I just bought a bike out there. All I know is that it’s orange, and it’s cute, and I picked it for the color.
As someone who is expected to be conscious of her presentation, how do you deal with the sweat and dirt that comes with riding a bike?
Typically, if I have an audition or a meeting where I have to look amazing, I will take the train or a cab or walk, depending on where it is, and then ride Citi Bike home once I don’t have to care what I look like anymore. I do a lot of voice-over work, and with that you can show up looking however you want, so then I’ll bike there and bike back.
Have you ever gotten to play a bike riding character?
I don’t think I’ve ever even ridden a bike on camera! But I did do a movie in 1994, an experimental Sony film called “Ride for Your Life.” Adam West played my dad, and Matthew Lillard was one of the bike messengers that I was in love with in the movie. They shot all over New York City — lots of bike messengers being crazy in the bad old 90s.
What attracts you to biking in New York?
I like the fitness angle, working in exercise where I can, because I am super busy with traveling and being a mom, so I don’t have time to go to the gym. But what I really, really love is that biking in New York forces you to A, put your phone away, and B, see the city, the people, the buildings, and the energy. You see the city from a whole different perspective when you’re on a bike.
Amy Hargreaves is an actress and New York City cyclist known for her roles in Homeland, Blue Ruin, and Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why. Keep an eye out for her in Wonderstruck and Super Dark Times out soon.