Bike tour re-opens old wounds

Bike tour re-opens old wounds
Congestion on the Verrazano: Hundreds of cyclists pedaled over the bridge during the Five Boro Bike Tour on May 6.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Some 32,000 cyclists pedaled through the city on May 6, but while the free-wheeling throng skirted Bay Ridge, it touched on a sore spot for many on both side’s of Brooklyn’s two-wheeled renaissance.

The Five Boro Bike Tour shut down streets and highways citywide, including the Brooklyn-bound lanes of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge heading into Staten Island. Numbers were down 15,000 from last year due to a new policy of only letting the winners of a special lottery participate — a policy the city instituted after a glut of riders choked up the Expressway in 2011.

Bay Ridge bike-lover Bob Cassara — who didn’t get to join his free-wheeling brothers and sisters this year — said he sees bike riding as part of a growing trend, one that Ridgites should hop onto and enjoy the ride.

“It shows that bike riding is something that’s here and here to stay in New York,” said Cassara. “I hope to see a lot more of it in Bay Ridge. I hope the community board will get on board with this. It’s good to be on the forefront.”

Cassara was a member of Community Board 10 until Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) kicked him off last summer — which inside sources said was because of Cassara’s support for a controversial proposed bike lane on Bay Ridge Parkway.

CB10’s leading bike lane opponent, Allen Bortnick, also saw Sunday’s event as symbolic — but, expectedly, not in the same way.

“This is the equivalent of what the bikes are doing to drivers everyday,” said Bortnick. “They tied up traffic mercilessly and took over major thoroughfares.”

Still, Bortnick said he’s willing to grant cyclists one Sunday a year to ride, as long as they stay off the streets the rest of the time.

But, while CB10 has consistently backed up Bortnick’s viewpoint, Cassara may have the last laugh: the city is creating bike lanes at breakneck speed to meet a goal of 1,800 miles by 2030.

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at (718) 260–4507 or e-mail him at wbredderman@cnglocal.com. https://twitter.com/#!/WillBredderman

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