Williamsburg Walks in the Rain

My friend Jonathan and I loaded up our 70 pounds-worth of pre-schoolers into the "Batmobike" on Sunday and headed over to Williamsburg Walks. My brother Abe joined us as well. Ominous looking clouds were rolling in from the west as we left Park Slope around noon. By the time we hit Fort Greene the rain was coming down in sheets. Much to the delight of the boys, we deployed the Batmobike’s rain canopy and waited out the storm under a tree near the corner of Willoughby and Washington.

The storm eased to a drizzle and we got moving again. The Batmobike turned a lot of heads as we rode along the mini van-dominated Orthodox Jewish stretch of Bedford Avenue. (Note to Henry Workcycles: Market opportunity!?) We arrived and parked at N. 7th St. where I predicted it would be a matter of hours before a photo of the bakfiets would be uploaded to Flickr. The number of bikes parked along Bedford Ave. was amazing to me. It almost looked like a scene out of Copenhagen, Amsterdam or Munich. There is no question that Williamsburg could use more street space dedicated to bike parking.

Connie Colvin of Williamsburg Walks gave the boys a complimentary Frisbee and I chatted with Shin-pei Tsay of Transportation Alternatives for a few minutes. The rain was off and on so we found a place to have lunch. By the time we were done the weather had cleared up and people were really starting to come out and make use of the open street.

car_free_beford

Granted, I’m predisposed to enjoying a car-free street but I really liked Williamsburg Walks. I just find it incredibly nice to be able to step outside onto a commercial street in a crowded city and not have to hear the constant sounds of engine revving, brake squealing and horn honking. It’s nice to have some elbow room and to be able to stand in one place and talk to friends without shouting over the sound of traffic or clogging up the sidewalk. And it’s absolutely great not to have to worry that your kid could take one step in the wrong direction and find himself in the path of a moving SUV.

guys.jpg

I think Williamsburg Walks would be even better if more Bedford Ave. merchants were encouraged to put out tables and chairs and open up their restaurants and shops to the street a bit. But, again, it was pretty rainy on Sunday and I imagine it might not be worth it for a business owner to buy and store outdoor furniture for an event that still only takes place a few times a year.

We didn’t see traffic jams on side streets or any of the problems that are often predicted around car-free streets. If anything, the neighborhood streets crossing the car-free stretch of Bedford were noticeably mellow. In my neighborhood, the Park Slope Civic Council and the merchants associations are working on a Park Slope Promenade proposal for 5th and 7th Avenues for the fall. I’ll be looking forward to that.

Third photo down is by acsweet on Flickr. The rest of the photos were taken by Aaron Naparstek.

  • My friend Jonathan and I loaded up our 70 pounds-worth of pre-schoolers into the “Batmobike”

    Yeah, but for a big family you really need a car, I think. Or something like that.

  • Aaron, I was on the Workcycles and Bakfiets sites while you were posting this, will you explain how you got your cargo bike? I got back from Amsterdam a month ago, and that trip helped push Mrs. Moocow to agree to a Cargo bike in the stable. It seems the only US dealers are out west, and I dont see the sense in shipping across the country to bring it back to NYC. I would rather go back to Amsterdam, have a couple Nieuwe Haring and buy it there. Thanks

  • Moo,

    I’ve been meaning to publish a post on the bakfiets but here’s the short story:

    The bike is made by Henry Cutler, an American in Amsterdam who runs a company called Henry Cycleworks. At the moment, I believe he has three distributors in N. America and they are all out west. I would recommend contacting the shop in Portland, Oregon, Clever Cycles. Clever ships them all over the place and can get one to you pretty quickly though you may have to wait if you are looking for a specific color choice. But, yeah, the bicycle is already expensive and the shipping is not cheap.

    Henry mentioned that he might have some other distributors closer to NYC soon. So you may just go to his web site and shoot him an email, tell him where you’re located and what you’re looking for and ask him what he suggests.

    If this is all too much, there are cargo bike makers closer to home as well. Worksman Cycles in Queens, there’s a company in NJ. I found a few when I was doing research.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    Moocow,

    Bakfiets at Trophy Bikes (www.trophybikes.com), 3131 Walnut Street, University City, Philadelphia; Two blocks from 30th Street Station. They specialize in bicycles as transportation, including every folder on the market, longtails, touring bikes, etc.

    They are one of the best shops in Philly and I’ll often make an excuse to hop on the train just to go and visit them (and then go ride around the city). They are worth the trip.

    They have a bakfiets in the shop that you can test ride.

  • Thank you Aaron and Andy. I have an email to Henry half written, and then saw your post. I have most of the problems worked out, parking and, ahem, spousal will, just have to get a line on one. I will check out that store in Philly and let Streetsblog know what happens.

    Henry has a blog http://www.bakfiets-en-meer.nl

    When my wife and I were there, we got lost looking for his shop, Amsterdam is a fantastic place to get lost while on a bike.

  • hi Moocow, sorry to hear you never made it to Henry’s store. Here’s a post of mine that could maybe make up for that ;).

    He’s opening a second one downtown this month, easier for the natives…and now also for visitors from abroad 🙂

    Good luck with the bakfiets search!

  • E

    Aaron – How do you lock up or otherwise secure the bakfeits? I would be really concerned about theft when leaving it unattended, and it doesn’t look like the kind of thing you can carry into your apartment.

  • E,

    The rear wheel has one of those Dutch self-locking mechanisms. The bike is heavy and big enough that you’d really need to guys and a pick-up truck to steal it when the rear wheel is locked. If I know that I’m going to leave it on the street for a long period of time I’ll also throw a Kryptonite chain in the box before I go.

  • I was wondering why there was a sudden spike in two of my Williamsburg Walks flickr photos…And here they are! That makes me happy. I also happened to be one of volunteers this past Saturday at the Williamsburg Walks event. I’m so glad the sun came out and everyone could really enjoy and appreciate the space. Keep us updated on the potential of a Park Slope Walks event in the future. I’d love to see that happen!

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