Cyclists that deliver take-out are notorious for not obeying traffic rules. In order to get to their location quickly, they often ride the wrong-way down streets or in bike lanes, causing confusion and chaos.
But some Brooklyn restaurants and businesses are taking the Pedal Pledge with 5 to Ride, vowing that their cyclists will follow five simple rules when biking to reduce accidents - for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers alike. They are:
1. Put pedestrians first
2. Stop at every red light
3. Ride in the right direction - with traffic
4. Stay on the asphalt - off the sidewalk
5. Pick one lane, and stick with it
The 5 to Ride campaign has spread from New Jersey to Tribeca, and now to Carroll Gardens. Local architect Nicholas Buccalo spearheaded the campaign locally in mid-August by visiting businesses – several of them on Smith Street – and asking them to join the initiative.
“People have been really receptive,” he said. “[They say] what’s the harm in doing something like this? It’s so positive.”
Buccalo, who gave up his car for a bicycle in 1981, is happy with the growing amount of bicyclists in Brooklyn, but fears that people aren’t necessarily aware of the safety issues surrounding biking.
“There are too many close calls,” he said. “I have a 10-year-old daughter and I want her to be able to [safely] cross the street.”
Buccalo has witnessed several bike accidents, and said that it was often because one of the cyclists wasn’t following the rules of the road. Buccalo hopes that, with the 5 to Ride campaign, business owners will stress safe bike practices with their delivery riders.
“A delivery rider’s first motive is to deliver quickly, so they can keep their jobs and do well. I make sure that business owners understand that [safe biking] will involve more time,” said Buccalo. “They understand that by being the restaurant owner and telling the employees that this is how they want it done, it sends a really strong message.”
So far, Buccalo has enlisted ten businesses, including , , , , and .
“As the program continues and more people sign up, people will see it as a stamp of approval,” said Brunhilde Vergouwen, manager of Rolling Orange. “We promote biking, and we find it important that people respect the New York streets.”
The 5 to Ride initiative was launched last March in New Jersey by the Gruskin Foundation as a way to promote safe bike riding through small businesses rather than individuals.
“We wanted something that the public could get behind, and that businesses could get behind,” said Nancy Gruskin, head of the Foundation.
When businesses take the pledge, they get a framed certificate and decal in their window, so the public knows they have joined the campaign.
“The idea would be that people walking down the street would know that the restaurant takes bicycle safety very seriously,” said Gruskin. She added that hopefully this would boost business because, as she said, “the public can kind of vote with their wallets,” patronizing restaurants that support the campaign.
Melissa Hansen, owner of Copy Cottage, doesn't see any harm in making the pledge.
“Biking has become so popular,” she said. “It’s nice to think that when people are biking they are going to think about being safe, because when they are safe it benefits everybody.”
Gruskin, Buccalo and business owners agree that getting the word out about the 5 to Ride campaign is essential to its success.
Seamless, one of the most popular online ordering sites, recently joined forces with the Gruskin Foundation to advertise the campaign on the site, spreading the word to more restaurants, and more diners.
“They’re going to help us exponentially,” said Gruskin, but she added that residents reaching out to restaurants they patronize is equally important.
“This started out as grassroots, and it still really is,” she said. “We need to have local ambassadors in all these different neighborhoods that can say, ‘This is really a problem to us.’ ”
To read more, or to make the 5 to Ride pledge, either as a business or an individual, visit the website.