New York City evokes a host of images—its skyscrapers, the traffic, the subway, the bridges, the neon lights.
And now, once again, it will take center stage with—are you ready?—its bicycles.
Yes, the TD Five Boro Bike Tour will be held in all its pre-pandemic glory on Sunday, May 1. And it will have its full complement of 32,000 cyclists.
You can be a part of this event, which has become a New York City classic. Indeed, it is covered world-wide, pedestrians, sight-seers, TV-viewers gazing at the extraordinary sight of people of all ages wheeling through the five boroughs.
Last year, cautious because of Covid-19, the race was delayed until August, and then “only” 20,000 cyclists took to the streets.
“We’re back and better than ever,” says Ken Podziba, CEO and President of Bike New York. “The opportunity to ride car-free through the five boroughs of the most exciting and diverse city in the world is why the TD Five Boro Bike Tour has become our country’s most popular bike ride.”
The adventure begins in Manhattan, wheels up Sixth Avenue, crosses five bridges, hits the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and winds up in Staten Island.
It’s simple to enter—just go to the website bike.nyc. And if you’re visiting and don’t have a bike, the tour has partnered with Unlimited Biking to make it easy to get a ride. The information is on the website.
But one doesn’t have to be pedaling to enjoy this event. Cycling has become a part of the Big Apple and its environs. There are now more than 1,300 miles of bike lanes in the city. Every day, more than half a million bike trips are taken. And, get this: More than 53,000 people cycle to work daily in a city that symbolizes public transportation. But that number is not so surprising when you consider that it is estimated that one million New Yorkers take a bike ride at least once a month.
Mayor Eric Adams is among them.
“As a regular cyclist myself, I encourage every New Yorker who can to grab a bike, and I hope this event will motivate more of our neighbors to give it a try,” he said. Adams is hardly a stranger to the ride—he’s been in several Five Boro tours.
Bike New York has centers in city parks, teaching adults on weekends, and younger folks after school and in the summer. They learn balancing and rules of the road. Bike New York also has a program for the formerly incarcerated, teaching them bike mechanics’ skills.
The Five-Boro moveable feast has little relation to its debut, when a grand total of 250 bikers showed up, and were escorted over the city’s streets by police cars in front and behind.
Back then the city wasn’t very bike-friendly. But during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s reign, dedicated bike lanes were installed, with the idea to cut down vehicular traffic and also give riders some freedom.
The Five Boro ride also is quite inclusive—it absorbs people of all demographics and ethnicity. Diversity is one of its rewards as well as standards. As you pedal through, say, a largely Hispanic neighborhood you’ll hear music popular at 12 different spots. Same through other neighborhoods where you might hear rap or jazz.
Ken Podziba is passionate about that aspect of the race—“It’s inclusive,” he says. “People of all ages. You don’t have to be in great shape. It’s like a microcosm of the world.”