Whenever I visit New York I’m a little tempted to move there permanently. In years past, the fantastic subway system beckoned. When I visited in March, the pedestrian walkways called my name. And last week when I was in the Big Apple for the BlogHer ’10 conference, the wide inviting bike lanes urged me to stay.

In recent years, New York’s beefed up its bicycle network, making it safer, more robust, and much more noticeable as a fun and free way to get about town. And the bike-friendly amenities don’t end there! I got a serious case of bike envy when I passed by the Museum of Arts and Design at Columbus Circle. There on the glass wall, I spotted an inviting sign: “take my bike portrait.”

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All visitors have to do is press a circle on the wall, then step back to the marker on the sidewalk for a personal portrait. Later — or perhaps right then, if they’ve got a good smart phone — visitors can see their photo on the museum’s mybike website — to see, download, and Facebook their portraits!

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I was very tempted to take a photo of my bikeless self anyway — but managed to resist the urge. Once I got home I found out I actually have more impulse control than many other people! A visit to the mybike photobooth website let me gaze plaintively at other people’s bike portraits — and laugh at the bikeless people who took photos of themselves anyway — and got ghettoized into a corner of the website featuring “bike-challenged visitors.” The photo curators are understanding, however. Pose in a bicycle-riding posture, and you and your invisible bike will make it into the with-bike section.

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Even for the unportraited, the mybike website’s fun to browse, showing a happy slice of the two-wheeling life in New York. The cyclists, whether spandexed or suited up, look gleefully happy and playful, if sweaty in the summer swelter.

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Want your own bike portrait? Visit the Museum of Arts and Design! The portraits are part of the museum’s current exhibit — Bespoke: The Handbuilt Bicycle — which features the designs of six renowned bicycle builders.

If you live too far away to bike your own bicycle over, you can easily adopt a bicycle for the day. Columbus Circle’s dotted with people holding “bike rental” signs. Just make sure you stop by before Aug. 15, when the exhibit closes.

Top photo by Siel; all other photos from the mybike photobooth website

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