Skittish cyclists hop on the Bike Train

A group of skittish cyclists who feared two-wheeling on Brooklyn’s mean streets have created a Thursday morning bike pool so they can safely pedal their way to work.

Every week, the members of the “Bike Train” meet up 8:30 am at the Red Lantern bike and coffee shop on Myrtle Avenue in Fort Greene. They chat for a bit before the wary-but-skilled riders heading off, watching each other’s back to make sure they all get where they are going without getting hurt, an overcoming a fear that has kept them off their two-wheeled vehicles.

“When I first moved here, I left my bike on the West Coast,” said Kimberly Kinchen, who helped organize the group after staying off her bike for two years. “There was no way I would even contemplate riding in New York City.”

Kinchen said when she started itching to get back on her bike, she read about a similar bike group for kids in Portland, Ore, so she and her partner Kim Burgas decided to start Bike Train, which has become a hit.

“There are a lot of people here who are, very interested in cycling, but very intimidated by riding here,” Kinchen said.

And those riders are learning that there is strength in numbers.

“When you ride by yourself, drivers get closer and they are more callous,” said Chris McNally, who joined Bike Train to mentor those who are intimidated by horseless carriages. “If you are in a group of six, they treat you completely differently. You are more of an obstacle to go around.”

That change in attitude, says Burgas, can change lives.

“People are safer when they are riding together,” said Burgas. “They are more visible.”

For now, the weekly ride from Fort Greene to Manhattan is the only regular one that Kinchen and Burgas run, but they hope to expand in the future.

“We need to reach out to large employers,” said Kinchen. “There are so many riders that we can get out on the streets if they had more confidence.”


Posted in Features