Safewalk is a division of rightrides.org which is a group of volunteers who helps people get home safe, escorted on bicycles.
I spoke with Leah and asked her about the program and how she got involved.
Name, Age, Where do you live? Leah, 27, Bed Stuy
What bike(s) do you own? Bianchi Trofeo, Mercian (don’t know model, from 1982, it’s lovely)
What is Safewalk NYC and how did you get involve with them? What is your involvement now with them? SafeWalk is a volunteer-run program of RightRides where volunteers on bikes offer a free, safe walk to callers in Brooklyn on Friday nights. The service is available to anyone and is intended to prevent assault and harassment. Anyone can take advantage of the service by calling (866) 977-9255 (WALK) between 11 pm Fridays and 2 am Saturdays. I began volunteering with SafeWalk in 2006, when the program was started in response to a spate of assaults in Williamsburg. Since then, the program has expanded to cover most of North Brooklyn south to Atlantic Avenue and east to Bushwick. I have been organizing the program since 2008.
What is some of the background that lead to the creation of Rightrides and Safewalk? RightRides began as a community response to a series of assaults in Brooklyn in 2004. The two founders began driving people home in their own car; since then RightRides has become a non-profit organization and offers a free ride home to women, transfolk, and genderqueer people on Saturday nights from any location to their home, provided both are in the service area. SafeWalk was organized by Craig Murphey in 2006 as a localized, bike-based alternative to the RightRides car service. The idea was that although not everyone in New York drives or has a car or a license, plenty of folks in Brooklyn already have bikes, and the service could be organized and run with minimal resources. Additionally, operating by bike has the advantage of allowing us to cover a large service area; we’re mobile enough to reach most of the neighborhoods we cover in 15 minutes or less. Because we walk with one caller or group of callers at a time, we are also able to offer the service to people of all genders (whereas the RightRides car service is limited to women, transfolk, and genderqueer individuals). So volunteers on bikes meet callers who are walking alone and join them, helping to prevent assault and harassment by taking advantage of safety in numbers. On top of that, we get to spend the night riding our bikes, which is awesome.
How has the program grown since its conception? In 2006, SafeWalk volunteers only operated in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. We commonly heard the response that the program was a great idea, but was needed in other areas, such as Bushwick and Bed Stuy. When we brought back the program in 2008, we decided to expand the service area to include all of Brooklyn south to Atlantic Avenue, adding the neighborhoods of Bushwick, Bed Stuy, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and downtown Brooklyn.
What has been the reaction from the volunteers, from people using the service? Volunteers have been really excited to offer a community response to street safety issues. For many, the threat of assault and harassment is a very real and scary experience, so it’s empowering to be able to offer a safe alternative with just ourselves and our bikes. It’s also great to be outside on a nice night. As far as clients, there’s always a moment of uncertainty when you first make that call to ask for help and company from unfamiliar people, but we hope that people will have a positive experience with the program and feel comfortable calling again and telling their friends about it.
Do people respond differently towards a biker helping or a driver? I haven’t actually volunteered as a driver for RightRides, but I think there’s a different experience when you’re actually walking next to someone on the street instead of sitting in a car. I think both programs offer a great opportunity to meet and talk to people who are concerned about safer streets. The difference is that with SafeWalk, you’re actually walking along those streets instead of riding past them in a car; there’s something about actually being on the streets, trying to make public space safer, that is really empowering.
How do people volunteer? All you need is a bike and the desire to help! E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org for info: volunteers just need to attend an orientation session and sign up for a shift one Friday night per month.
How do people find the service? On Friday nights during the hours of 11 pm to 2 am Saturday, anyone in our service area can call (866) 977-9255 (WALK). Volunteers will bike over to meet them where they are and walk with them to their destination.
Has it been difficult getting the word out and what obstacles have you faced as a volunteer? Of course, it’s always difficult to promote a new service! Sometimes people think the program is not intended for them, or feel that they are safe enough. Anyone who feels uncomfortable walking alone is welcome to call us! We want to emphasize that the program is available to all people, and we can walk you to another destination or to your home. We also understand that some people feel hesitant to ask for company from people they don’t know; we hope that people will try out the service and feel comfortable calling again. We offer the service because we think everyone deserves to walk where they are going safely and without fear. If walking alone makes you hesitate in any way, remember that there are volunteers willing to join you.
Any stories you can share about your experiences as a volunteer?
I do remember one woman we walked with from a bar in Greenpoint to her home. She lived farther east in Greenpoint, where it gets very industrial, and there aren’t many people out. She said she never realized how sketchy her neighborhood could feel, but having us walk there with her helped her notice it for the first time.
Have you seen noticeable changes in the area as far as safety or empowerment of people in the neighborhood? I think it will take time to really see visible changes, but for every person who feels safer on their walk, that is a very real and tangible change.
What are the future goals for Safewalk NYC? We’d like to build up a base of clients and spread the word about the service, as well as form connections with local community groups. We’d also like to increase our volunteers. If the service becomes very popular, we’d consider expanding the service area, adding a new team to a different borough or area, or adding another night of service.
We are an international festival and production company that celebrates the bicycle through art, film music, and performance. We are looking for a highly motivated intern with a strong interest in film, art, music and culture in general to begin immediately. Interns will have the opportunity to work with all staff members and will gain exposure to all aspects of the festival’s operations.
-General office support (various administrative duties, running errands, etc.)
-Assist with festival correspondence/mailing
-Managing incoming film submissions
-Online Social Networking
-Avid interest in bicycles and urban bicycle culture
-Great personality, strong work ethic and can-do attitude. Responsible and
-Fluency in Japanese, Italian, French, Spanish, German or Chinese a Plus
-Knowledge of basic Microsoft Office. Final Cut Pro, Indesign and other
layout programs not required but a plus!
-Must have own computer
-A minimum of 10 hours per week. Increased time commitment required in
-Lunch stipend is offered. School credit can be arranged.
I dunno what inspired this, but tomorrow, Time’s Up is throwin this:
JAMES BROWN SOUL POWER DANCE RIDE
Saturday, April 18th, 7 p.m.
Union Square Park South, 14th Street
James Brown Dance Ride is this Saturday. We have both sound bikes working and we’ll be starting at Union Square Park south at 7 PM and dancing our way down to an after party at Reverend Billy’s New Space, arriving at 8:15 PM for the opening party at 250 Lafayette Street, between Prince and Spring.
If you can’t make the ride, just go to the party and we’ll bring the dancing.
Ride a little, dance a little, repeat! Put on your best dancing shoes and come dance with our soundbike. Ride a little, dance a little at specially selected outdoor dance spots, plus some spontaneous grooving too.
I apologize, but Bikeblognyc has been acting funny for a few days thanks to Dreamhost. Must be due to the multitude of web traffic I’m getting now. (snicker snicker)
Either that or Somali pirates overtook the Dreamhost server.
Meanwhile, Open Bicycle Opened in Sommerville, Mass.
Here’s what worked for me.
Step 1. Get a bike
I had one, then lost it, then got it back. Hopefully you’ll get your own bike.
I decided to get a professional paint job because I shudder to think what would happen with me and a rattle can.
2. Get the bike stripped of its parts
Again, I shudder to think what would happen to me with some bike mechanics tools so I took it down to Brooklyn Bike and Board, or what ever bike shop you prefer with mechanics you trust.
Ok, I did the basic stuff like handlebars, seatpost, pedals…But because I tried to use more complicated bike mechanics tools…the crank was stripped out and had to be pounded out.
But you are conscientious bike owners who routinely grease up the seat post so it doesn’t get frozen and checks the bearings in the headset, things like that.
This does make for an easier stripping of the bike which you want to get it down to just the frame and fork.
3. Sandblasting. (lemme back up a little)
Through a very popular bike forum dedicated to one type of bicycle, I heard rumor of place in Greenpoint which paints bikes.
That spot is: Carter’s Powder Coating
Larry Carter, owner, is part of a small community of light industry manufacturing in Greenpoint Brooklyn.
As stated on the bottom of his low-tech website:
they paint bicycle frames and forks.
They do a process called Powder coating which is free flowing dry powder, often used on automobile parts.
So i emailed Lcarter@carterspray.com and asked about painting bikes. He responded right away and told me that it would have to be sandblasted first and that was done some where else.
But Larry has taken care of this and has a good relationship with ACME sandblasting in Manhattan. See the webpage.
I took the bike to this place:
41 Great Jones Street,
Now I know what your thinking…hmmm ACME?
Besides making anvils and rockets to catch the rascally roadrunner…ACME also does Sandblasting.
You go into a industrial storefront in the middle of NOHO, find Leon. He looks like he’s been around since the time they were painting the celluloid for Warner Brothers Cartoons. Leon explained they were installing some new equipment and it would take at least 10 days. Within a week the bike was done and in cost $81.00. I believe now it will only take 2 days.
Here are the results:
Step 4. Powdercoating. (the paint job)
So this is Carter’s:
65 Eckford Street-Brooklyn, close to McCarren Park and right down the street from B Bikes.
I talked with Larry about colors. Their website lists standard colors here.
I brought in my green aerospoke wheel and Larry was able to match it fairly accurately.
It was 130 dollars and took 2 days.
I know there are other painting methods out there, but I was very happy with the speed and quality of the powdercoating job at Carters.
Here is the final result:
Larry was is into painting bikes and has worked with the Worksman Tricycle Company. He seems like he can powdercoat just about anything. He was eager to show me his glow in the dark cruiser and I hear he is trying to come up with a reflective paint like what is used on street signs.
Step 5. Putting it all back together.
Depending on your wrench skills, I would suggest using a competent mechanic.
But for a free option and if you’d like to learn the process, check out the free bike mechanic workshops with Time’s Up.
1. BROOKLYN CRITICAL MASS
Friday, April 10th, 7 p.m.
Grand Army Plaza, the northern entrance of Prospect Park where Flatbush Ave., Eastern Pkwy, Union St. and Prospect Park West intersect and Brooklyn Side of the Williamsburg Bridge
2. ENVIRONMENTAL TOUR OF THE SOUTH BRONX
Saturday, April 11th, 10 a.m.
Brook Park, 141st Street and Brook Avenue, Bronx- under the cherry blossoms!
3. PROSPECT PARK MOONLIGHT RIDE
Saturday, April 11th, 9 p.m.
Grand Army Plaza, the northern entrance of Prospect Park where Flatbush Ave., Eastern Pkwy, Union St. and Prospect Park West intersect.
4. JAMES BROWN SOUL POWER DANCE RIDE
Saturday, April 18th, 7 p.m.
Union Square Park South, 14th Street
5. CRITICAL MASS: MANHATTAN
Friday, April 24th, 7 p.m.
Union Square, North Side
6. POST-CRITICAL MASS ‘STILL WE RIDE’ VIEWING
Friday, April 24th, 8:30 p.m.
NYU Kimmel Building, 60 Washington Square South, Room 802
7. GO GREEN LOWER EAST SIDE
Saturday, April 25th, 2 p.m.
Allen Mall 6 (Allen between Delancey and Rivington)
8. RIVERSIDE RIDE
Saturday, April 25th, 10 p.m.
Columbus Circle (SW corner of Central Park, at the intersection of Broadway, Central Park South 59th Street, and Central Park West)
9. PEACE RIDE
Sunday, April 26th, 12 noon
Union Square Park, SW corner, near the Gandhi Statue
10. WEEKLY BIKE REPAIR WORKSHOPS
** Now in NYC and Brooklyn! **
Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday Workshops will be held at ABC No Rio which is located at 156 Rivington Street between Suffolk and Clinton Streets.
Wednesday and Sunday Workshops will be held at Time’s Up! Brooklyn which is located at 99 South 6th Street off Bedford Avenue