FOUNDER, BROOKLYN BIKE PATROL
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Jay Ruiz founded the Brooklyn Bike Patrol (BBP) during the summer of 2011 after several women were sexually assaulted in Windsor Terrace, Park Slope and Sunset Park.
“Our goal is for people to be safe, get home safe and not have to deal with being attacked,” explained Ruiz. “We started walking just women, but now we walk gay and transgender people home, too. Our motto is ‘If you’re from the Planet Earth, we’ll walk you home.”
The not-for-profit, volunteer-run group sends bike escorts to accompany people home from train stations and street corners around Brooklyn, for free, seven days a week. There are currently seven volunteers, mostly male, all of whom have been vetted by Ruiz for dedication and undergone background checks with the help of the local 72nd Precinct.
“We don’t accept funding,” Ruiz noted, “but people and politicians want to help us, so I’m hoping to put video cameras on our guys’ heads. That’s a big way for us to keep people safe.”
MOTIVATION: “I just want to let Brooklyn know that we love them,” explained Ruiz. “We want to have a safe Brooklyn. We pray that there’s a day that the Brooklyn Bike Patrol is not needed because we would love for everybody to respect each other and be nice humans.”
BIGGEST OBSTACLE: Ruiz said it was difficult “getting the trust of people in the very beginning, [but] now, they don’t have a problem calling us. It’s good being honored by groups, but we feel honored every time someone calls us and trusts us to walk them home safely. You can never call the BBP too much.”
Personally, he also finds it hard to find the best people to join BBP.
“We’ve got to find special people because you get a call at two in the morning and have to be willing to get up and go pick someone up,” he explained. .
GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT: “I have three: marrying my smart wife, raising a good son and I can’t believe how many people trust and believe in the Brooklyn Bike Patrol,” said Ruiz.
PROFESSIONAL LIFE: Ruiz’s day job is as a dispatcher for a bike courier company. He has served in that role for 20 years and previously worked for 12 years as a bike messenger.
PERSONAL LIFE: Ruiz lives in Prospect Heights with his family and has a son in college. Following a heart attack last summer, Ruiz cut back on coffee and Red Bull – which he was using to stay awake for late hours – replacing it with water.
“My health is now the best,” he said. “I’m stronger now than I was before and now, if I need a day off, I’ll take a day off.”