BROOKLYN — It’s 10 p.m., hours after a long day working at an autism nonprofit, and Ryan Finger is quickly bicycling toward the Clinton Washington C-train stop with one thought on his mind.
“People should not have to choose between being safe and going to work,” he said.
That is why his second job on many evenings is helping people like Regina Zick by making her trip home safer. He escorts her on a 15-minute walk from the subway to her home.
“I’m just kind of scanning the perimeter, making sure I know what’s around,” Finger said mid-walk.
Finger is part of the Brooklyn Bike Patrol, a group of background-checked volunteers who offer free safe walks home from any subway or bus stop in Brooklyn.
They are fond of sayings like, "If you’re a person on planet Earth, then we’ll walk you home,” and “We don’t accept payment, just likes on Facebook.”
The service comes in handy for folks like Zick.
“I find myself out late at night at work and at the library so I use the Bike Patrol to get home safely,” she said.
PIX11 spent an evening with the Bike Patrol crew along the L train in Williamsburg as they let people know they’re available to help.
Each rider’s motivation for volunteering sounded strikingly similar. Most have a friend or girlfriend who was harassed or attacked while walking.
However, for Bike Patrol founder Jay Ruiz, a bike messenger dispatcher by day, it goes a step further.
“In 2011, when we started the Brooklyn Bike Patrol, a lot of women were being attacked coming out of train stations,” Ruiz said. “All the bad guys looked Latino.”
Ruiz said as a Latino man he felt compelled change public perception.
“I wanted the public to see the face of a good guy that looks exactly like the bad guy,” he said. “I think I’ve done that.”
Zick said for people like her, the walks home with the Bike Patrol are entirely different from when she is alone.
“I’m always walking faster on my phone or just gunning for home,” she said. “Walking with someone and feeling comfortable and having four eyes instead of two on your surroundings really makes a big difference on how you feel."
The Bike Patrol asks that anyone who needs a companion contact them 40 minutes in advance by calling 718-744-7592.
For more information, click here.