Opinion: ‘Words of Rizzdom’ from the road

Brooklyn Paper columnist Nick Rizzo gearing up for his big bike trip.
Nick Rizzo

I said last week this week’s column would be about the Brooklyn Democratic Party, but I’ve decided to once again make it about weird transportation, among other topics. I write from my vacation — I am taking a week to bicycle from Hudson, New York back to Brooklyn.

There’s so much I’ve enjoyed about biking up here. For instance, I can get a lot closer to wildlife than I would if I were driving a car whose motor noise would scare them away. Most of all, I enjoy the feeling of self-sufficiency in that I can return to these places another time under my own power, almost regardless of what’s occurring in the world at that time.

Bicycles are suddenly extremely popular. Most bike shops in the city are sold out, and every one that I’m aware of is extremely busy repairing old bikes. There are still bikes for sale as far north as Hudson, but every bike shop in the Hudson Valley was slammed and by Beacon and below they have sold out of inventory. There’s a sign on the street in Beacon listing a number with a Westchester area code, offering cash for used bikes.

The Hudson Valley, on both sides of the river, is clearly booming. A number of people have recently purchased houses there sight-unseen. There is very little real estate inventory coming on the market. I believe most of the buyers are from the New York metropolitan area, though many of them are coming from the closer-in suburbs rather than the city. Unfortunately, very little new development seems to be likely near current Metro North train stations. The southwest corner of Dutchess county — the part of the region I’ve spent the most time in, which includes the towns of Wappinger and Fishkill and the city of Beacon have, for example, all made it illegal to convert a single-family home into two or three units.

I don’t believe this trend of moving further out of the city will reverse after coronavirus is cured. A lot of what keeps people in the city will no longer be here. Large portions of the fashion, restaurant, and hotel industries, for example, are not coming back. Moreover, much of the dense office space near the center of the city that keeps so many commuters nearby will no longer be used. Tech and finance — two wealthy and aspirational sectors of the economy — will stay almost completely online, and I suspect many other fields will follow them. Finally, coronavirus has made so many of us eager to spend more time outside, so we’ll move to places that offer us more of that.

On the other hand, some of us will always prefer the city. I send this column from Westchester, but by the time you are reading it, I’ll (hopefully) be home again in Brooklyn.

Nick Rizzo is a Democratic District Leader representing the 50th Assembly District and a political consultant who lives in Greenpoint. Follow him on Twitter @NickRizzo.