April 12, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
A group of cyclists kicked off their inaugural “bike train” this morning, an effort meant to encourage commuters to bike between Williamsburg and Manhattan as an alternative when the L train shuts down for repairs in less than a year.
The first of a series of weekly commutes, organized by Transportation Alternatives, began with an 8 am meet up and rally at the corner of Union Avenue and Hope Street, just blocks away from the Williamsburg Bridge. Cyclists, transportation advocates, and local officials urged for better options once the train, which carries hundreds of thousands of riders a day, closes for 15 months worth of repairs.
“We will be impacted by the 2019 shutdown,” said BikeTrain organizer Chelsea Skye. “We need a way to get across town, and biking is one of those ways.”
Councilmember Antonio Reynoso (D-Williamsburg), who has pushed for better street planning and options to prepare for the shutdown, served as the BikeTrain’s first conductor.
“In anticipation of the L train shutdown, transportation alternatives are more important than ever before for New York City,” he said. “We need to make sure the infrastructure is in place so we can [bike] comfortably and safely.”
The cyclists, most dressed in grey—the color of the L train logo— began their commute across the bridge at around 9 a.m, and were met by Manhattan Councilmember Keith Powers, who commended their push for the city to implement better infrastructure and transit options.
“I think there’s still more work to do,” Powers told riders at the Manhattan side of the bridge. “But I think we’re on a good path.”
The Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority estimate that 70 to 80 percent of displaced L train riders will opt to use other train lines once the shutdown occurs. The DOT also expects cycling volumes to double over the Williamsburg Bridge—over 7,500 cyclists currently cross the bridge every day.
To facilitate the increased cycling volumes from Brooklyn, the DOT has proposed installing two-way protected bike lanes along Grand Street.
For more information on upcoming BikeTrain commutes, see Transportation Alternatives’ L Train Bike Train group on Facebook.