November 1, 2012
By Christopher Rhoads and Carrie Melago
Drivers who called the Shell station on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill neighborhood looking for gas Thursday got a piece of unsolicited advice from the owner.
“Bicycles!” the owner, Tony, shouted at callers before hanging up.
Many New Yorkers don’t need to be told twice. Biking has become an integral part of the post-Sandy commute, but not all of the two-wheeled commuters are avid cyclists. Some people are rediscovering an old pastime.
“I haven’t used this in like a year,” said 29-year-old Jeffrey Johnson, who works at an Internet marketing company in Manhattan. “But I had no choice.”
He took his bike into Atlantic Bicycles on Thursday to have a new lock put on. Tony Scarselli, the owner of the bike store, said people aren’t necessarily buying new bikes but coming in for needed repairs.
“They’re pulling them out of their basements and can’t understand why their chains are rusted stiff,” he said.
Advocates for cycling are trying to encourage novices who are dusting off their old bicycles. Transportation Alternatives, for one, is offering maps, coffee and technical advice at commuter-support stations during rush hour at the Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges and Times Square.
Noah Budnick, a member of the pro-biking group Transportation Alternatives, said that during the December 2005 transit strike, cycling increased 500% in the city. He suspects increase will be even more pronounced during the current transit crunch, since the weather is much milder.
“The weather is really perfect right now. People who’ve biked for a while in New York know it’s the best time of year to ride,” Budnick said. “You get on your bike and start pedaling and you warm up in five minutes.”
Bike NYC has created a resource page for cyclists commuters during the post-storm period that includes safety tips and a list of bike shops.