Call it biking for a cause.
Hundreds of enthusiastic cyclists participated in the 3rd annual Waterfront Epic Ride, a 40-mile excursion intended to raise awareness about cycling in the borough and to show the potential for, and encourage the completion of, a waterfront greenway.
The ride began at Newtown Creek in Greenpoint and proceeded through Williamsburg, Bed-Stuy, Fort Greene, Dumbo, Red Hook, Carroll Gardens and Gowanus and also featured stunning views of the Brooklyn Bridge and historic waterfront industrial buildings along the wat route. The ride was organized by bike advocacy group Transportation Alternatives in collaboration with Columbia Street's .
Many riders praised and acknowledged the improvements and progress made on the waterfront Greenway bike path over the past three years. Some riders, including David Lynch (no relation to the filmmaker) even came from outside of the city to participate, giving Brooklyn some well deserved street cred for being so bike-friendly, and always getting better.
"We live in Nassau county, and come to Brooklyn to ride," he said.
Indeed, the term "bike-friendly" has its own meaning in Brooklyn; the sense of community Brooklyn cyclists are becoming known for was evident in Saturday's ride. Riders stopped along the way were asked by others if they needed assistance. Many riders looked out for those behind them, making sure everyone was on the right path and didn't get separated from the group.
"It's encouraging to see this could be a bike path, especially for an avid biker and rookie," said one rider, Amanda Smith.
"It doesn't have an elitist vibe to it," said another, Erika Clarke. "I feel like everyone is looking out for each other, and it's super fun."
This year's ridership included well over 250 people, spread out in small groups, and the path was marked so as everyone could ride at their own pace.
Dave "Paco" Abraham, local bike advocate, volunteer and member of Transportation Alternatives, said the ride has grown steadily bigger since it started three years ago, demonstrating the potential for an extremely popular waterfront bike path.
There are "a lot of energized people," he said.
The other sponsors of the ride exemplify the wide ranging support the waterfront Greenway bike path enjoys. They include the Regional Plan Association, Rockaway Waterfront Alliance and the city's Department of Parks and Recreation and Department of Transportation, among others.
The Greenway is well on its way to becoming what its supporters envision, said Abraham.
"We're linking all Brooklyn neighborhoods through the Greenway," he added.
Currently, only parts of the Greenway are built, but the work continues.
"All in all, people are getting to see the real potential of complete bicycle infrastructure in the city," said Abraham.