Pedal powered preparation before the L-Train Shutdown!
“Calling out to everyone across the L-stations, said the ‘hood is in a desperate situation.” This tweaked lyric is from the Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong song “Friendship Train” made famous by Gladys Knight and the Pips. Those who depend on the L-Train to get to and from Manhattan have less than a year of this mode of travel, and the idea of a commute with no L is a desperate situation. From now on, on Wednesdays you can catch the #BikeTrain, just search that hash tag online to find out more information.
Transportation Alternatives is not one to sit and wait for the inevitable. This organization is on the front lines of activism that reclaims our streets from the automobile. They rally for Vision Zero, safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists, protected bike lanes, and better quality public transit. As a member of the L-Train Coalition they are part of a group of community organizations, businesses, and elected officials who are dialoguing with the MTA and DOT about how to best address the shutdown. Transportation Alternatives launched the #BikeTrain at the corner of Union Ave. and Hope St. on April 12th. Council Member Antonio Reynoso was deputized as a Bike Train conductor and Benjamin Solitaire represented Council Member Stephen Levin’s office at the official launch of the Bike Train. You can catch future Bike Trains that will navigate the inter-borough work commute each Wednesday. Search #BikeTrain to find times and locations.
“The Yankees won, the Mets won, and we just started the Bike Train! It’s a great day in New York!” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso, who was designated a Bike Train conductor for its inaugural ride. He mentioned that biking will be a commuting alternative after the L-train shuts down. “We need to make sure the infrastructure exists so we can do it comfortably and safely. We need to do this much earlier than the day before L-train shuts down. What we are going to see today is an example of bikers making an attempt to get to Manhattan and it isn’t something that is conducive to a mass amount of bicycles. We haven’t built that in the infrastructure so that it is a serious alternative.”
These words were prophetic, as the Bike Train was squeezed in on one side by a long lane of big rig trucks and cement mixers. Before they got to the Williamsburg side of the Williamsburg bridge they encountered a stopped semi in a protected bike lane so the cyclists had to bike outside the lane and between two lanes of truck traffic before they could get to the next protected bike lane.
“We don’t want one worker fired because he can’t get to his job on time, we don’t want one kid who can’t get to school on time, we don’t want one business to shut down because someone decides it’s too hard to get to Williamsburg now. We need the infrastructure the council member called for,” said Benjamin Solitaire from Council Member Stephen Levin’s office.
Luke Ohlsen North Brooklyn organizer for Transportation Alternatives foresees that there will be a 300% increase in biking as a result of the L-Train shutdown. He said “If you are nervous, if you want to ride with a group, if you want to learn how to navigate the bike network, now is a great time to get involved. Look for #BikeTrain and come out and ride with us. It looks like it’s time for the train to leave the station. All Aboard!”