QUEENS — All aboard?
A Rego Park lawyer and activist has launched a "biketrain" — a group of commuting cyclists led by a "conductor" — and is hoping more bike lovers will soon join the group.
“I’m definitely looking for more people,” said Beadle, the conductor of the only biketrain in Queens. “Biking is now a commuter option and I hope this trend will grow in Queens.”
The concept of biketrains has recently started gaining popularity in New York.
The idea is the brainchild of Kimberly Kinchen, 44, an Inwood resident, who in 2011 initiated a biketrain from her neighborhood to Midtown, where she works as an editor. Biketrains have become a hit in Brooklyn, where there are currently three different groups.
Each of the six New York routes is described on Bikeapolis, a website dedicated to New York biketrains.
Usually each group consists of four to five people, but sometimes more than a dozen bicyclists commute to work together, said Kinchen, who added that the idea occurred to her after she read about biketrains for school children in Portland, Oregon. The concept is also popular on the West Coast and in some British cities, she said.
"New York can be intimidating for new bicyclists," said Kinchen, who moved to the city from Seattle about 10 years ago.
For this reason, biketrains conductors — experienced bicyclists who know the route — choose streets with less traffic and lead their groups at a comfortable pace, Beadle said.
“The hope is to encourage people who are less experienced and bring them into the world of commuting by bike,” he added.
The Queens route starts in Rego Park at the Shalimar Diner (on the corner of Austin Street and 63rd Drive) at 7:30 a.m. on Fridays. Sometimes the group also rides on Wednesdays. The final destination is Grand Central Terminal.
Joanne Hsu, 30, joined Beadle in May, after the Health Department, where she works as a data analyst, organized a bike-to-work-day.
"It's amazing," she said. "It's energizing, I get to be outside and I get to be active. So instead of going to the gym or planning a run, this is just built into my day."
The route mostly avoids Queens Boulevard, which Beadle says is dangerous for cyclists, and travels instead along Grand and Calamus avenues in Maspeth and then along Skillman Avenue in Sunnyside. Riders can join the biketrain along the route, Beadle said.
“It takes over four miles before I can get to the first bike lane in Sunnyside,” said Beadle who advocates for more bike lanes in the borough. "Right now, there is virtually no bike infrastucture [in Central Queens]."
It takes the riders about 35 to 40 minutes to get to Long Island City, where Hsu works. Beadle then crosses the Queensboro Bridge and arrives at Grand Central about 15 minutes later.
Riding a bike to work requires a couple of tricks, said Beadle. For example, he carries a bag with his work clothes with him. He said he learned on the Internet how to fold them, so that they are not wrinkled.
After arriving in Manhattan, he takes a shower and changes at a gym, where he has a membership, near his work. Then he brings his bike with him to his law office.
Beadle said commuting by bike gives the cyclists a sense of accomplishment.
"What right now to many people looks like a daunting seven to eight mile trip into Manhattan, with a couple of trips out there, you suddenly realize, 'Wow, I can really do this,'" he said.