Bike Patrol survives heart attack

Bike Patrol survives heart attack
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

You have to give it to him. The guy has heart.

The Brooklyn Bike Patrol is back less than two months after founder Jay Ruiz suffered two heart attacks and called it quits. The volunteer nighttime safety service, which dispatches bicycling bodyguards to meet women at subway stops and walk them home, will reboot this week.

Ruiz is already back riding his bike, he said, and will reclaim his role as the patrol’s most active member. But he is also searching for more volunteers to help fill in the busy schedule. So far, he has been surprised that more borough bike riders have not stepped up to the task.

“Maybe people are afraid to ride outside alone,” Ruiz said. “It takes a very special kind of person.”

The patrol has a stable of eight cycling escorts on call, but Ruiz is hoping he can recruit seven more to don the group’s trademark neon green jackets.

“I have seven more brand-new jackets to give out,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz started the service in 2011 in response to a spate of sexual attacks in South Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, and Kensington. The patrol gained traction last year following another string of rapes and attacks in Williamsburg and Bushwick. Volunteers say the ongoing problem of violence against women is reason enough to spend their nights pushing pedals and walking strangers to their stoops.

“The idea that other women feel unsafe walking the streets bothers me,” said Milisa Burke, a volunteer who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant and who is willing to trek across Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and brownstone Brooklyn to usher women from the subway.

For its first month back in action, the bike patrol will only operate on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. In September, it will return to its earlier seven-day-a-week schedule.

The service requires women to call 45 minutes before they expect to be at their subway stop so that escorts have time to bike over and meet them.

Call the Brooklyn Bike Patrol at (718) 744–7592.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at twitter.com/DanielleFurfaro.

He’s back: Jay Ruiz is getting Brooklyn Bike Patrol up and running again less than two months after he suffered a pair of heart attacks.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini