To the delight of cycle enthusiasts across the city, traffic will be barred from selected thoroughfares when the TD Bank Five Boro Bike Tour takes over the streets of New York on May 1. Participants in this year’s Bike Tour will freely pedal through all five boroughs on 42 miles of open road normally dominated by cabs and congestion.
The Bike Tour will begin with opening ceremonies in Battery Park at 7:30 a.m., and end with a festival in Staten Island. In between, participants will bike at their own pace northbound through Central Park, Harlem, and the Bronx, before turning around and heading south towards Queens.
The upper-level Manhattan-bound section of the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge will be closed from 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. to accommodate cyclists entering Queens. The Pulaski Bridge connecting Queens and Brooklyn will be closed from 10:10 a.m. to 1:05 p.m. as well. From Queens, the tour will head south through Brooklyn and over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to Staten Island.
The Bike Tour, now in its 34th consecutive year, takes place the first Sunday of each May. The first Five Boro Bike Tour was held in 1977 and tallied a meager 250 participants. This year’s tour sold out on February 1, the first day that tickets were available to the public, and is set to have more than 32,000 cyclists.
As the Bike Tour has grown over the years, so has the controversy surrounding bikes in the city. During the last four years, Mayor Bloomberg has sectioned off more than 250 miles of city streets to make way for more bike lanes, pleasing many cyclists but angering some neighborhood groups and legislators.
Those opposed to the lanes complain that they take up road space, congest traffic and are relatively unused by bikers, but the Bloomberg administration is set to continue expanding bike lanes in the near future.
In Queens, where the number of bike commuters increased from 2,400 in 2006 to more than 4,000 in 2008, bike lanes won’t matter for the day of the TD Bank Five Boro Bike Tour, as bikers will have an uninhibited chance to pedal the streets.