Another bicycle store will open in Park Slope, making it the most bike shop-saturated neighborhood in Brooklyn — and prompting a bragger’s rights squabble among the borough’s most cycling-centric hoods.
On May 15, Bicycle Habitat — a grocery store-size specialty shop with “boutique brands” — will open on Fifth Avenue, offering top-notch racing bikes, unique models for women and bicyle repair classes.
Owner Charlie McCorkell — a former director of the bike-advocacy group, Transportation Alternatives — has a flagship store on Lafayette Street in Manhattan, but decided to open in Park Slope after the much-hyped Prospect Park West bike lane put the neighborhood on the city’s cycling map (figuratively as well as literally).
“It’s the right place at the right time,” said McCorkell, who lives in Prospect Park South.
In the past four years, the city has doubled the number of installed bike lanes, prompting a slew of new pedalers — and a 35-percent increase in citywide bicycle commuters.
McCorkell’s shop would be the seventh bike store in Park Slope — more than any other neighborhood in Brooklyn, and beating Williamsburg by one.
But that’s exactly why some bike shop owners are steering clear of the Slope.
“Cyclists are already well-served there,” said Will Wood, owner of Spokes & Strings in Williamsburg, where an empty bike rack is about as rare as a punctual G train.
“In Park Slope, you’ve got shop owners beating each other up over who can get the best Italian import,” Wood said.
Still, the opening of the store created another round of bragging rights for the title of “Most Bike Friendly Neighborhood.” Williamsburg boosters say the competition pretty much ended in 2008, when a city study revealed that Williamsburg had surpassed Park Slope for the most bike commuters in the borough.
Wood remains dismissive of Park Slope’s claim to being the bicycle epicenter, given how much Williamsburgers rely on their two-wheelers.
“Bikes are a tool here — it’s a transportation thing, not for recreation,” he sniffed.
Indeed, Bicycle Habitat seems to be playing on those bike-culture differences by focusing on premiere racing brands — such as Specialized and Trek — which cost up to $7,000. It will also sell Brompton folding bikes, kids gear and Linus “retro commuters” with price tags starting at around $400.
McCorkell expects the “destination shop” to draw people from all over the city — even, presumably, Williamsburg.
Other bike shops in Park Slope include R&A Cycles, a high-end racing shop on Fifth Avenue; On the Move, an 18-year-old mom-and-pop on Seventh Avenue; Ninth Street Cycles, which carries affordable hobby bikes; 718 Cyclery, which sells vintage bike frames in the South Slope; Ride Brooklyn, which rents and sells bikes on Bergen Street; and Dixon’s Bicycle Shop, a 45-year-old family-owned retail/repair shop and neighborhood staple on Union Street.
Whoever wins biking hood bragging rights, there will be no shortage of customers, said David Dixon.
“The more the merrier,” he said.
Bicycle Habitat [476 Fifth Ave. at 10th Street in Park Slope, (718) 788-2543]. For info, visit bicyclehabitat.com.
©2011 Community News Group
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