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One dream for two wheels — a velodrome in Greenpoint

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Greenpoint could get a high-tech bike-racing track to train the next generation of Olympians — if the city and the MTA ever stop spinning their wheels.

Inspired by a $7-million design competition for projects along Newtown Creek, Williamsburg-based Affinity Cycles owner Jason Gallacher and national cycling champion Andrew LaCorte have put together a proposal to construct such a first-class track, called a “velodrome” in some circles, on a city-owned lot on Commercial Street.

The facility would include not only the high-banked racing surface, but paths for BMX racers and a cycling training facility.

Gallacher estimates that constructing an outdoor velodrome on Commercial Street would cost about $500,000 — though it would take another $3 and $4 million to build an enclosed arena to house it for all-year use.

“Our goal is for this to be a center for cycling, not only for track racing, but for casual cycling,” said Gallacher, who makes bikes in his Grand Street shop. “In a perfect world, the project will end up in Greenpoint.”

The city must first convince the MTA to decamp from the site it has leased for half the decade — negotiations that have gone in circles.

But in a sign of hope, the City Parks Foundation has quietly begun to lobby MTA officials to move the bus lot from Greenpoint. And Gallacher said he has received encouragement from the Parks Department about the site.

“We’re in a city where the cycling culture is booming leaps and bounds,” said Gallacher. “For the city not to have anything like this would be ridiculous.”

But Community Board 1 member Dewey Thompson questioned whether a velodrome needed to occupy prime waterfront space.

“It could be really cool, but right now, 65 Commercial St. is in its preliminary designs as a soccer field,” said Thompson. “Could a velodrome fit next to it? That would have to be figured out with the community.”

The sport of track cycling has existed in New York City for nearly a century, and was among the most-popular spectator sports, behind the then two-word sport known as base ball. Its popularity peaked in the 1930s with six-day races at Madison Square Garden, a Manhattan venue.

Races are a high-paced contact sport where cyclists throw a lot of elbows and crash into each other at speeds upwards of 45 miles an hour.

But the number of cycling tracks in the city has dwindled over the years. Only one, the antiquated Kissena Velodrome in Queens, remains.

Cycling athletes, including several Olympians, have trained at that facility, but Gallacher and LaCorte say the track is outdated, in shambles, and difficult to get to.

They should know.

LaCorte has won several national championships, most recently the U.S. Masters in 2009, racing on Gallacher’s custom-made Affinity frames, while leading a team of rising cycling stars including 2012 Olympic hopefuls Stephanie Torres and Dave Espinoza.

Within two years, Team Affinity accumulated eight national titles and four Ecuadorian titles, which are even tougher to get.

“We decided we wanted to put together a powerhouse team,” said Gallacher. “We picked up some strategic up-and-comers, and they’ve come to life done really well.”

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Reasonable discourse

tom from everywhere says:
as an avid cyclist im all for the idea but i dont think it would be a good use of prime space. they should just fix up kissena instead.
Nov. 10, 2010, 9:19 am
kk from greenpoint says:
I hope they get their velodrome, but this is a very poor use of an otherwise potentially fantastic public outdoor space.
Nov. 10, 2010, 10:05 am
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
brought to you by Spandex!
Nov. 10, 2010, 12:17 pm
Pontius Pilate from Bronkers says:
Sounds like a great idea! (Especially if your name happens to be "Jason Gallacher.")
Nov. 10, 2010, 1:18 pm
e-rok from Clinton Hill says:
I like the idea but if it goes forward they should really enclose it or make it a convertible arena. Indoor velodromes are few and far between and people pay top-dollar to reserve them for winter training and races which could conceivably fund youth development groups and whatnot...

Oh, and Joey - it's pronounced "LY-cra" and there's only one hill in "Clinton Hills"
Nov. 10, 2010, 2:47 pm
Peter from Greenpoint says:
it's certainly better than a disused bus depot, at any rate; since GP is already on track to get some great waterfront spaces at transmitter park and the north end of Manhattan ave, I say go for it. Throw in a waterfront promenade and fishing pier and we're all set.
Nov. 10, 2010, 2:58 pm
Joey from Clinton Hills says:
oh e-rok, we call you ewok behind your back.
Nov. 10, 2010, 4:03 pm
Lucca Zeray from Park Slope says:
I race at kissena velodrome and i have raced around the country. I am 17 and an avid cycleist, i have compeated in juinor national championships and have mutiple NY state titles. I jut want to say a few things; there is a high need for a new velodrome some where in the proximity of the auctual city. THe closer it is to people the more riders will be there to apreacaite it, i had to hunt it down and because it is in the middle of nowhere it is hard to get to and gets very few racers.

To respond to tom, they fixed up kissena in 06 and it need to be fixed up yet again, the land out there is terrible for the track.

There is a demand for this track
Nov. 10, 2010, 4:09 pm
Heather from Queens says:
Hope this becomes reality... but honestly, Brooklyn is a poor choice for it, would be a nightmare for many to get there & find PARKING! There are so many more ideal areas in Queens, ie Flushing Meadow Park has hundreds of acres of land they can spare, they can build it right in between the new (pool/rink) and the Tennis Stadium and there is ample FREE PARKING too!... ;)
Nov. 10, 2010, 4:31 pm
Luke S from Williamsburg says:
This needs to happen. Kissena is too far out. This is much easier to get to by train or simply by riding.
Nov. 10, 2010, 5:53 pm
notsnob from Clinton Hill says:
This would be a Fantastic location for a track.
Kissena is a 400 m track.
Can't host championships there.
Nov. 10, 2010, 9:48 pm
Moshe Aron Kestenbaum from Williamsburg ODA says:
A-holes Idiots gd dam bastards STOP SPENDING MY HARD EARNED money . Whose money do you think is it when the government spends it?
Nov. 10, 2010, 11:47 pm
Lewis from Greenpoint says:
Oh Moshe, you are so cute.
You probably drive a car, don't you? And I bet you complain about having to pay $1.25/hr for a metered space that would cost 10x that much if it was charged market rates.
Have you ever been to a park? You enjoying something paid for by my hard-earned tax dollars? Oh the humanity!!
I don't suppose you've ever eaten food, have you? How do you think that got to you? Yup, you got it! Over roads paid for by my hard-earned money, through a giant terminal in the South Bronx paid for by my hard-earned money, which incidentally does not reimburse all the local residents for their asthma caused the the millions of trucks passing through their streets every year.
I could make a list a mile long, but I forgot that the tax complainers only complain when someone else is benefiting.
Nov. 11, 2010, 9:40 am
Wendy from Greenpoint says:
Oh brother! That money should be used for something that ALL Greenpoint residents can use and enjoy.
This would a huge waste of money!!! Don't do it!
Nov. 11, 2010, 10:07 am
brent from williamsburg says:
From what I understand this will be privately funded from mostly patrons and or the newtown creek fund (hopefully), also this is not only a velodrome, but a bmx park and recreational cycling trails in the surrounding area. For thos who dont know, bmx'ers are not allowed in 95% of all public skate parks in NYC. This would be great for all, not only racers. Even if the city wants to come in and supports this why not, its a great project!!
Nov. 11, 2010, 11:48 am
Em from Bed Stuy says:
I also race at the track, and it would be wonderful to have a quality track in Greenpoint, and if you are complaining that this is something that only a select few can use, you've clearly never watched the sport. Every race at Kissena attracts people that have never seen it before, and they almost always come back to watch again or bring their kids and bikes to try it out themselves. There are clinics that are open to everyone and a handful of loaner bikes if you don't have your own.

Out at kissena I have trained with a watchful eye on the 6 year olds on razor scooters sharing the track, or given lessons to the guy that flys remote control planes on how to race a track bike. I have never met anyone around Kissena that sees it as a nuisance.

Before you denounce this sport, google Chris Hoy and watch a video or two.

Also, in case you didn't read the whole article, we have two olympic hopefuls in our backyard, in other states, velodromes have been built just for this reason alone.
Nov. 11, 2010, 11:50 am
James from Brooklyn says:
I agree, very poor location for a Velodrome, where are we just catering to locals? Queens has Kissena & Flushing Meadow Park land, Greenpoint land can be used for projects generate tax dollars NYC (so our great politicians can waste it, lol)!
Nov. 11, 2010, 2:09 pm
brent from williamsburg says:
James, this has the potential to create good money for the city and local businesses. Not to mention its a great spectator sport, its a public park which will also have educational programs and youth development. This is a no brainer
Nov. 11, 2010, 2:16 pm
Kathy from Flushing says:
Perhaps they can use just a drop of the Millions DOT WASTES ever year paving roads (the ones that don't need paving) and help cyclist build a safe haven to go fast, instead of speeding on our streets!

Hey Mr Mayor Bloomberg, you're the Billionaire right, help our NYC cyclist kids out... and use it as a tax right off so it wont cost u a dime ;)
Nov. 11, 2010, 2:16 pm
Thomas from Greenpoint says:
I also agree, bad location, (I notice most who are for this location are near that Greenpoint)... if we ever expect to get the Olympics, Flushing already has the new state of the art Olympic pool, ample parking, close to the train & major expressways, LIE & Grand Central, Flushing Meadows has so much unused land, why waste prime Brooklyn real estate for a track that will be difficult for other in NY & its surrounding areas to get to (if it is going to be privately owned, good luck paying the property taxes on that too)!
Nov. 13, 2010, 2:52 pm
jimm from Greenpoint says:
stop freaking out people, you know it's not going to happen
Nov. 16, 2010, 8:21 am
John Campo from NYC says:
Mr. Aaron Short, I see you like to pick articles that cause controversy. good idea for your career. However when someone tells you something and you print it as "Fact" before researching if it is in fact truth, it makes you look foolish. Be careful what you wish for...
Nov. 27, 2010, 5:44 pm

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