Sunday, April 27th was an especially exciting day for the HII crew. We hosted our first ever bike tour along the North Brooklyn Waterfront from Brooklyn Bridge Park to the Newtown Creek Nature Walk in Greenpoint. It was a really fun group, with 15 bikers and 5 speakers.
Along the bike tour we stopped at various locations where we heard from our guest speakers. Our first stop was Times Up!, a volunteer-based group in Williamsburg that advocates for biking as a sustainable transportation alternative. The founder of Times Up!, Bill DiPoala, was our first guest speaker. Bill has been an advocate for biking in NYC for a long time and strongly believes in the importance of group bike tours. He explained that he has found that group tours provide bikers with opportunities and experience of biking in a busy city, giving them the confidence, safety and knowledge to eventually take on the streets alone.
Our second stop was Grand Ferry Park where Wendy Brawer, the founder of Green Map NYC, was our guest speaker. She spoke to the group about her work in mapping the NYC waterfront. She showed us a map of the flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy in different parts of NYC, and also maps things like community gardens and LEED certified buildings. These maps work to inform communities about local vulnerabilities or risk, which can perhaps help in emergency planning. They can also be a fun resource to simply learn more about your city or neighborhood!
Next, we visited the East River State Park where we heard from state park ranger Michael. There, he gave us a brief history of the park and the Brooklyn waterfront. He explained the role North Brooklyn and Queens played as a transportation hub and railroad connection for goods in the early 20th century. East River State Park officially became a state park in 2007. Educational plaques are installed all around the park to preserve its history!
At WNYC Transmitter Park we heard Jason Beury, parks head gardener, talk a little bit about native plants in the park. Transmitter Park is unique in that, unlike most parks in our region, the grasses and plants that Jason uses are all native to our region. While other parks use non-native trees and plants to maintain aesthetics during the winter and early spring, Transmitter Park is in line with the seasons, coming to life in the summer when all the native plants are in bloom.
Lastly, we heard from Korin Tangtrakul from the S.W.I.M. Coalition at the Newtown Creek Nature Walk in Greenpoint. She gave us a really interesting overview of Combined Sewage Overflow (CSO) events and their impact on New York’s waterways. She is working to create informational maps and online systems to educate New Yorkers about water pollution in their area and to inform them when CSO events are occurring.
We were so lucky to have such an engaged and excited group of bikers out for the event. The guest speakers presented us with unique and valuable information, so we all left having learned something new! Overall, the bike tour was a huge success and we look forward to hosting more in the future.
Many thanks to HEP/NEIWPCC for supporting this program.
By Anna Marr, Environmental Education Intern, Human Impacts Institute 2014