Cycling is more than just a mode of transportation or a pastime for one Williamsburg woman, who has taken it upon herself to bike every block in the borough by Sept. 1 — all while documenting Kings County’s vast expanse and diverse architecture.
“I felt like I was going the same places all the time when I went biking, so I decided I would just bike every block so I would have new places to go,” said Jacqueline VanDusen, who, since starting her project in 2017, has pedaled more than 3,500 miles.
The cyclist has been chronicling her progress on her Instagram page, Brooklynbybike, where some 6,800 people follow along with her journey. There, she documents her expeditions with pictures of buildings in the neighborhoods she visits — all the while showcasing the architectural best of Kings County, she said.
“When people come to Brooklyn, they mostly go to places like Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, or Dumbo, and you see these same types of architecture — the classic brownstone. They don’t expect that it changes anywhere else,” she said.
Some of her favorite discoveries have included the deserted runways of Floyd Bennett Field, and the unique and ostentatious waterfront palaces in Mill Basin, said the biker.
“There’s these quirky mansions and pockets of really weird architecture,” VanDusen said. “That was the biggest eye-opener, how diverse and weird it gets.”
She’s even managed to gain access to Brooklyn’s handful of gated enclaves, including the Navy Yard in Fort Greene, Seagate near Coney Island, and a gated cul-de-sac off Strickland Avenue in Mill Basin.
And on top of merely sightseeing, she’s also visited about 1,800 bars and restaurants along the way.
“When I’m in a neighborhood, I want to eat there and find out where that local bar is,” VanDusen said.
Her least-favorite spot to bike is Dumbo, because of the hordes of tourists taking selfies in the middle of the bumpy Belgian Block streets.
“I absolutely hate it,” she said. “There’s also just not that many things I want to take pictures of there.”
VanDusen said she has become more conscious of the dangers of biking in Brooklyn, where motorists hit and killed 19 cyclists in 2019 — more than in any other borough.
“I’ve been incredibly lucky,” she said. “Statistically, I should have been hit by now.”
Though she bikes much more defensively today, VanDusen says there needs to be more awareness of bikers among drivers and pedestrians, and that the city needs to install more bright green protected bike lanes — a color she’s adopted for the logos on her social media.
“People stand in bike lanes. I’ve yelled at dozens of people for standing in them and people just don’t know to look for bikes,” she said.
VanDusen is still figuring out what her next project could be after she’s finished covering Brooklyn. She has no interest in biking and photographing Manhattan or Queens, she said, but she might do something similar in her native Philadelphia, and has already secured the Instagram handle Phillybybike.
“I am considering Philadelphia if I move there,” she said. “I have the account just in case.”