Biketrain Makes Stop Uptown to Help Introduce Riders to Cycle Commuting
INWOOD — Like scores of commuters, Kimberly Kinchen stood by a coffee shop near the 207th Street subway station on a recent Friday ready to take the train down to her job in Midtown.
But Kinchen is not hopping on the A train — the Inwood resident's ride will be free of tunnels, crowds and delays.
"This train is always air-conditioned and every seat is a window seat," Kinchen said before beginning her 10-mile "train ride" south.
The bike-commuting line launched in Inwood on June 21.
Instead of traveling by subway, biketrain riders cycle down the scenic Hudson River Greenway from Inwood to Midtown.
The ride is a testament to the basics of bike safety: Cyclists ride single-file down streets, signaling before turning and ringing their bells long before encountering joggers.
Kinchen, who lives in Inwood and works in Midtown, founded the biketrain initiative last year after trying to find other cyclists to ride with. She eventually linked up with co-founder Kim Burgas, and the two began their Inwood-to-Midtown rides.
The plan faltered, however, because of a lack of ridership. The biketrain was a success in Brooklyn, though, where riders flocked to group rides in Fort Greene and Crown Heights. In fact, the rides were so successful that Kinchen used to bike down to Fort Greene every morning just to participate.
In addition to the Crown Heights and Fort Greene routes, additional biketrains have popped up in Rego Park and on the Upper West Side. The restarted Inwood biketrain is the newest route.
Ridership is still low, but Kinchen hopes it will grow as time passes.
The initiative serves several purposes, Kinchen said. It promotes cycling in New York City, helps cyclists meet other riders, and provides new cyclists a safe environment in which to learn the basics of bicycle commuting.
The biketrain travels at whatever speed beginners are comfortable with, Kinchen said, helping take the pressure off newer riders. Organizers will also teach beginners basic traffic tips, as well as give them the inside scoop of the riding conditions in a particular area.
"Cars act different when there are two and three bikes compared to just one," Kinchen said, adding that about a dozen biketrain riders joined without having any cycle commuting experience. "So it helps new riders feel safe when they're in a group."
The Inwood biketrain departs Fridays at 8 a.m., weather permitting.