The Brooklyn Bike Patrol (BBP) is back as of tonight: Friday, August 2!
A month and a half after suspending services due to founder Jay Ruiz suffering a heart attack, the BBP will return to its mission of making Brooklyn streets safer for residents, especially young women. Ruiz assures BBP users and fans that he is in good health again and is excited to bring the group back, better than ever.
“I wanted to come back earlier, but my family would’ve killed me,” said Ruiz, whose two surprise heart attacks in early June forced him to suspend the volunteer group’s services temporarily. “We’ve got a couple more volunteers–eight now–and are still looking for more. I’ve been hearing so many crazy stories of women being fondled and I couldn’t take it anymore.”
“I’m doing wonderful. It’s 14 days after my operation so I’m in great spirits, well-rested and ready to go,” explained Ruiz. “I was taking in too much sugar, not enough water, four cups of coffee, and Gatorade, so my heart was racing. I’m good now and am off coffee.”
The on-call bike escort service, founded in summer/fall 2011 following a series of sexual assaults against women in Brooklyn’s Park Slope, Greenwood Heights and Sunset Park, will continue to serve these and their surrounding neighborhoods. Thanks to new volunteers, service will also expand to more neighborhoods, such as further into Sunset Park, plus Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst.
The new and improved BBP also has new shirts, new neighborhoods and a few new faces—including the group’s first female volunteer.
Milisa Burke said that she thinks, “It’s weird that I’m the first [woman volunteer] because I know many women who ride bikes and ride at night,” adding that she is excited to help her neighbors get home safely.
Rob Sidtis, a Bay Ridge resident, said that he has often had friends ask him to walk with them on their route home, so helping strangers with BBP is a natural next step. “It’s a form of community service with exercise [and] Bensonhurst, East Flatbush, and more neighborhoods definitely need it,” he noted.
More volunteers are always welcome, although the late hours may be hard on some people, so knowing your own schedule and time commitments helps.
“Hopefully, once we’re up and running again, more people will volunteer,” said Ruiz, who noted that whether they have taken self-defense classes or not, new recruits undergo some training in how to ride safely and maintain a level of professionalism and trustworthiness with the people they escort.
Residents in need of BBP’s services can call 718-744-7592. Prospective volunteers can also call that number for more information. Their hours are Sunday-Thursday from 8 p.m. to midnight, and Friday-Saturday 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.