Some 2,000 cyclists descended from their strongholds in Fort Greene and descended into Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, and Dyker Heights on June 3 for the Tour de Brooklyn.
Event organizers added the three neighborhoods — where resdidents have fought the city’s desire to put bike lanes on major thorougfares — to the ride’s 21.5-mile route in an attempt to show how fun bicycling through Southern Brooklyn can be.
“We want to get people to come out and demonstrate the connectivity of neighborhoods by bicycle,” said Ben McRoberts, who planned the route for Transportation Alternatives, the bicycle advocacy group organizing the annual ride.
Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst civic leaders have repeatedly fought plans to put bike lanes on Bay Ridge Parkway and Shore Road, but some bicycling enthusiasts hoped that seeing 4,000 wheels spinning by will soften residents’ anti-spoke stance.
“It’s important for people see it, and get interested in bicycling,” said Bob Cassara, who was reportedly kicked off Community Board 10 last year because he supported the Bay Ridge Parkway bike lane. “It’s where the city’s going.”
Even longtime bike lane critic and CB10 member Allen Bortnick embraced the massive bike ride — although he still opposes bike lanes on major avenues.
“Let them have their day,” said Bortnick, who would have been able to see the cyclists from the window of his Shore Road apartment. “I just want them to keep bike paths away from where they don’t belong.”
Yet, some Bay Ridge residents weren’t happy to hear about the Tour de Brooklyn’s new route through their neighborhood.
Elliot Rudy, who lives off of Shore Road, complained that major bike events are happening far too frequently in Bay Ridge.
The Five Boro Bike Tour rolled through Bay Ridge back in May and bicyclists participating in the Brooklyn Waterfront Epic Bike Tour will again wend their way down Shore Road on July 30.
“I don’t mind the occasional bike going down the street,” Rudy said. “But the less we have of these big tours, the better.”
Others said they preferred bikes staying off the streets.
“If they have to be on bicycles, let them ride down there,” said Ridgite Bob Skibo, pointing toward the bike route in Shore Road Park.
Starting from Commodore Barry Park in Fort Greene, a 10 mile-per-hour column of bike riders pedaled south through Park Slope and Sunset Park along Fourth Avenue to 68th Street, where they turned and rode the entire length of Shore Road before pumping back up to Fourth Avenue and cutting over into Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst, making a pit stop at Dyker Beach Park — the tour’s halfway point.
Riders rolled through Midwood and Kensington as they made their way back to Fort Greene.