Five Boro Bike Tour to return to full capacity in May

Bicyclists approach the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in Bay Ridge during a past Five Boro Bike Tour.
File photo by Elizabeth Graham

The Five Boro Bike Tour will return to full strength next month after two years of pandemic limbo, and cycling honchos say participants this year will not only get to enjoy the event at capacity, but also an extra hour of car-free streets.

The tour — which, as its name suggests, visits all five boroughs — is once again open to its capacity registration of 32,000 participants, after being cancelled altogether in 2020 due to the COVID-19 lockdown, and featuring a diminished ridership of just 20,000 in 2021, and a later-than-normal August date. The event, which began in 1977, comes back to New York on Sunday, May 1.

With the extra hour in place, participants will be able to choose from a greater number of “waves” with which to start the tour, which organizers say will reduce congestion and allow for a more pleasant experience.

“The extra hour is a game-changer for the riders of the TD Five Boro Bike Tour,” said Ken Podziba, president of event organizer Bike New York, in a statement. “The ability to spread out the start waves means less congestion, plus additional space to soak in the amazing views and enjoy a more leisurely, free-wheeling ride. This year’s Tour will be the best one yet, and we’re grateful to Mayor [Eric] Adams, [Department of Transportation] Commissioner [Ydanis] Rodriguez and all our government partners for working with us to infuse an exciting, new liberating feel to the Tour experience.”

Organizers have not yet released the route for this year’s pedaling palooza, but, as in previous years, the program will begin in Lower Manhattan and end on Staten Island. Last year, the route started at Manhattan’s southern tip and traveled up to Harlem, crossed the river for a brief layover in the Bronx before returning to the east side of Manhattan, after which riders crossed the Queensboro Bridge and cycled through waterfront nabes in Queens and Brooklyn. Finally, riders trekked across the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge to the finish line in St. George, Staten Island.

File photo by Stefano Giovannini

All streets along the route are closed to motor vehicle traffic so bike riders can peacefully and safely navigate the city.

The $112 entrance fee is steep, but the fee supports Bike New York’s charitable mission to provide free bike education courses to children and adults throughout New York City. The non-profit claims that its educational programs, administered at “community bike education centers,” reached up to 30,000 New Yorkers in 2020.

The entrance fee includes snacks, water, and “entertainment” at rest stops along the route, access to free bike repairs, and entry to the “finish festival” at the end of the circuit on Staten Island.