Williamsburg on a roll! Two new bike shops put Billyburg ahead of the Slope

Williamsburg on a roll! Two new bike shops put Billyburg ahead of the Slope
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Williamsburg is riding high — over Park Slope.

The battle of bike-friendly neighborhoods has reached a new phase as two new bicycle shops opened in North Brooklyn within the past month — moving the cycling saturation point away from the Slope and towards the Burg.

Silk Road Cycles opened on Franklin Street after Memorial Day, two weeks after Landmark Bicycles landed on Bedford Avenue — bringing the total number of bike shops in Williamsburg to eight and beating Park Slope by one.

Silk Road’s Brendon Nicholas is not surprised — he argues that Williamsburg has more commuters while the Slope is riddled with “club riders” who train for cycling races or travel in packs like feral mammals around Prospect Park.

“You don’t have as much here, you have more leisurely riding where people ride out to the beach on a road bike,” said Nicholas. “We’re seeing the trend toward single speed bicycles with breaks — bicycles that coast.”

But commuting is still the primary reason Slopers ride low, according to Bicycle Habitat’s Charlie McCorkell, who said he has sold 132 bikes at his shop since it opened in May.

“We’ve seen a lot of commuters, mostly we’ve sold street bikes to people who want to ride it every day,” said McCorkell.

Williamsburg has long been home to the city’s most committed commuters.

More than 6,200 people ride over the Williamsburg Bridge each day according to city transportation studies — nearly equaling the number of riders who cross either the Manhattan Bridge or Brooklyn Bridge each day.

As transportation costs for driving and taking the subway have risen, more people have been turning to their bicycles to get them around the city.

But the mindset between neighborhoods remains different.

Bike shops in Williamsburg and Greenpoint sell many fixed gears and single speeds while Park Slope shops often sell 21 to 27 speeds to riders who need to climb the neighborhood’s hills.

McCorkell says he sells more child seats in Park Slope than at his SoHo store, which does four times the business of his Brooklyn store.

“In Williamsburg you don’t get the 35-year-old male, you get the 26-year-old male — you don’t get the mother who wants to ride with their kid,” said McCorkell. “Williamsburg is a committed biking community, but it tends to be single people.”

But Nicholas attributes the rise of cycling in Williamsburg to another factor — protected bike lanes on Kent Avenue and Franklin Street, which connect commuters to the borough’s bridges.

“The Franklin-Kent bike lane is very popular with commuters,” said Nicholas. “Having an actual lane that’s painted green is pretty safe.”

Bicycle Habitat [476 Fifth Ave. at 10th Street in Park Slope, (718) 788-2543]. For info, visit www.bicyclehabitat.com; Silk Road Cycles [76 Franklin St. at Calyer Street in Greenpoint, (718) 389-2222]. For info, visit www.silkroadcycles.com; Landmark Bicycles [376 Bedford Ave. between S. Fourth and S. Fifth streets in Williamsburg, (347) 799-2116]. For info, visit www.landmarkbicycles.com.