[Editor’s Note: Don’t miss the New Amsterdam Bike Show on April 28-29, benefiting Transportation Alternatives! More details at the bottom.]
Paul Steely White is
changing the landscape of New York City’s streets through his work as Executive Director of the non-profit Transportation
Alternatives. If he gets his way, the number of children playing in the parks,
people pedaling to work and pedestrians using the city sidewalks will vastly
outnumber the cars on our streets. Find out how this biking advocate—and father
to Anna, three—aims to change the way we safely get from place to place.
How did you become such a bike enthusiast? Who was
When I was a youngster, my dad
Paul, Sr. used to ride his gold Fuji 10-speed eleven miles to work each day.
But as a really little kid, I didn’t think much of it. As I got older and started
to ride, I remember thinking how far it was: down the driveway, down the
street, past the grocery store, past my friend John’s house, past school, and
suddenly I realized he was a superhero.
How many bikes do you own and which is your
I have two favorites: My featherlight Gary Fisher carbon road bike that I use
for long rides and racing, and a Christiania Trike from Copenhagen that I use
to ferry the most precious cargo—my daughter, Anna, and all the groceries she
Do you think Anna will share your enthusiasm for
Anna loves to run, scoot, climb,
frolic, and yes, bike. Sometimes I do dream about her winning the Tour de
France, or becoming a political leader who remakes our nation’s cities so that
biking and walking are safe for everybody. But those are my dreams, not hers! I
just want her to grow up as a healthy, street smart, free-range NYC kid.
What are some of your tips for teaching kids to
Like a lot of things, it’s
probably best to wait until they want it. Push bikes without pedals are best
for small kids under five. They can focus on balance and not worry about
pedaling. Bike New
York is a
really terrific organization and the city’s leading resource for all-ages bike
Tell us about Transportation Alternatives and your
role within it.
A lot of people don’t know that
the organization is almost 40 years old! What makes us special is our 45,000-strong
network of citizen supporters and a dedication to not just making bicycling
better for New Yorkers, but walking and transit, too.
What family resources does T.A. offer?
[A child] playing on their street was once a common sight in neighborhoods.
When we are at our best, we are restoring this vital element of city life by
streets for families and making them safer for New Yorkers from 8 to 80 years old.
Exactly how much energy can we save by biking
instead of driving?
Biking is certainly more efficient than driving, but it’s the fuel that
matters. It’s better to burn fat instead of gasoline! You can park 15 bikes in
the space required to park just one car.
What is the most common obstacle to biking in the
According to the Department of City
Planning, the biggest obstacle is the lack of secure bike parking. More and
more office buildings allow bikes indoors, and outdoor racks are now much more
plentiful. But the real solution is coming this summer: Public bike share. With
10,000 bikes at 600 stations, riding will become as convenient as hopping on
What are your top safety tips for biking as a
Start riding in parks and
greenways [and] then graduate to the street when you gain confidence and
skills. Always wear helmets and bright clothing and, of course, blinky lights
at night. Generally, moms and dads should ride behind the littler ones and a
little more towards the middle of the street.
What is your favorite biking path in NYC?
The protected bike lane on
Prospect Park West. I love riding in that lane on a Saturday morning with Zoe
and Anna to the farmer’s market. Bikes and local food—what a combo!
For a slideshow of safe and super stylin’ bike gear for kids, see our slideshow Beyond Bells & Whistles.
April 28 & 29 | 10am-7pm
If Paul Steely White
inspired you to pedal on, check out the latest in biking gear and accessories
at Manhattan Media’s—New York Family‘s
parent company—New Amsterdam Bike Show this month. Families can peruse exhibitors
from the U.S., Europe and Asia, along with
top local bike companies. There will also be a super cool fashion show, fab
food and a few giveaways, too! Kids are absolutely welcome. Tickets are $15 in
advance and $20 at the door. Skylight Soho, 275
Hudson Street, newambikeshow.com.