We’re fast approaching the winter season and that means the sun is setting earlier. You may find that it’s already dark after finishing up a long day at work or that your home is several blocks too far after an evening out. If you feel unsafe walking alone at night or taking public transportation, there are actions you can take to feel more secure beyond the well-known tips (be aware of your surroundings, pretend to be on a phone call or stick to well-lit areas with more people) we’ve heard growing up. 

For example, it’s possible to be accompanied to and from the train station or home even when your friends aren’t available. 

SafeWalks

SafeWalks is a volunteer-run group that will walk you to and from public transit or a public area. The founder, Bushwick local Peter Kerre, who is also a network leader of the activist cyclist group Street Riders NYC, started SafeWalks in response to the string of assaults against women at the Morgan L train station last November. What began with Kerre, himself, standing outside the train station entrance to offer accompaniment home is now an initiative of over 200 volunteers composed of residents throughout New York City’s five boroughs. 

The first ever SafeWalks postup at the Morgan L Train Station (SafeWalks’ IG)

You can request to be escorted home via SafeWalks’ Instagram account. Be sure to put in the request at least one hour prior to the meetup time. Round-trips and public transit requests require 24 hours notice, and “emergencies, vaccine appointments and “extreme need situations” are prioritized.  

SafeWalks is currently in the process of creating an app that would include real-time tracking. You can donate to SafeWalks’ GoFundMe to launch the community safety app and further expand the areas covered. 

Brooklyn Bike Patrol

The Brooklyn Bike Patrol, founded in 2011, is a community organization dedicated to helping Brooklyn residents feel safe as they travel from the train station to their homes. Before the organization grew in volunteers, it was just Jay “Rocket” Ruiz, president of the patrol, and a friend who escorted people home in the Windsor Terrace, Park Slope and Sunset Park areas. The initiative has now expanded to service many more areas of Brooklyn, including Bushwick. 

Members of the Brooklyn Bike Patrol on their bikes during evening hours. (Brooklyn Bike Patrol FB)

Previously, the Brooklyn Bike Patrol provided its services during the evening hours seven days a week, but with the decrease in volunteers after the onset of the pandemic, the organization’s working hours are now three days a week. They ask that you call them 45 minutes in advance to schedule a pickup.

“Anybody can call us,” Ruiz told Bushwick Daily. “If someone needs to call us and it’s not in our working hours, please call me and I can hopefully arrange something where I can go meet you.”

Brooklyn Bike Patrol is looking for volunteers, all of which are background-checked by the 72nd Precinct. Big dogs are also welcome to apply. 

Local cab services

Uber and Lyft have been reliable, convenient ways to get home, but now that the lockdown has ended, more people are demanding rides — about 50 percent more than pre-pandemic levels. The ridesharing companies responded to the increased demands and lack of drivers with price surges, which can easily deter pedestrians from getting a ride (I know it has for me!) and, instead, make them opt for public transit or the walk home. 

Cab services, on the other hand, have been gaining popularity. Though cab services share many similarities with Uber and Lyft, including base fare, surcharges and pricing based on both miles and minutes, there is one important difference: cabs charge per mile when moving and per minute when idling. Therefore, it’d be cheaper to get a cab in congested areas like New York City at night when booking a ride with the ridesharing giants are in high demand, especially when traveling short distances. 

Curb is a mobile app that allows users to hail cabs on their phones through a convenient platform. The app connects pedestrians to over 100,000 drivers in New York City, so there’s no more waiting for a cab to turn a corner on your street.

But if local is your comfort zone, there are also many cab services in Bushwick you could call 24 hours of the day, seven days a week. 

Bernice Car Service, founded in 2018, is located at 208 Wyckoff Ave. The service has an uplifting Facebook page with morning motivational messages, its own app available for all devices, and the option of communicating through Whatsapp, along with a standard email or phone call. Rates are not listed on the company’s website, but you can get a quote through its online form or by calling. 

Bushwick Car Service at 184 Knickerbocker Ave. has been serving the five boroughs and surrounding areas for over 25 years and claims affordable rates in Brooklyn. According to its website, all drivers go through a strict background check procedure. Currently, the service has 2,000 drivers as part of its team.  

440 Car Service, established in 1980, is located on 1266 Myrtle Ave. A list of estimated rates can be found on its website, which also includes occasional online-only exclusive deals. The company has its own app and a regularly updated blog where you can find “hotels and restaurants, sights of New York City and our service offers.” 

There are many more cab services in the area, so don’t be afraid to give them a call. Get to know your local cab drivers!


Featured Image courtesy of SafeWalks.

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