Streams

Look | Bikers Bask in Sun During 5 Boro Bike Tour

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Many helmets were decorate for the occasion. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

The hum of 32,000 cyclists could be heard spinning through 42 miles of road through all five boroughs during the annual Five Boro Bike Tour on Sunday. 

Bronx-born and spandex-clad Josh Triber, 33, taking a break in Harlem before hitting the FDR Drive South, said he’s never seen the city this way before.

"I've driven  the city billions of times, my whole life, and it’s pretty unreal," he said. "It’s nice and it’s kind of surreal because I see red lights and my instinct is to want to stop, but no, I can keep going freely."

But bike traffic slowed many riders down at the five bridge crossings. Coming off the FDR Drive about to climb the Queensboro Bridge, Delia Kenkel, 51, who drove in from Ithaca with five friends caught her breath and marveled at the back up of cars on the FDR's North bound lanes.

"We were passing cars headed in the other direction — we were going faster than they were, people were smiling and honking and saying 'Hey!' It felt terrific," Kenkel said.

Bikers at the starting line on Church Street near Battery Park in the 5 Boro Bike Tour.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Bikers at the starting line on Church Street near Battery Park in the 5 Boro Bike Tour.

Bikers riding through Central Park in the 34th annual 5 Boro Bike Tour.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Bikers riding through Central Park in the 34th annual 5 Boro Bike Tour.

Bikers at the starting line on Church Street near Battery Park in the 5 Boro Bike Tour where pyrotechnics marked the start of the race.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Bikers at the starting line on Church Street near Battery Park in the 5 Boro Bike Tour where pyrotechnics marked the start of the race.

Bikers at the starting line on Church Street near Battery Park in the 5 Boro Bike Tour.
Stephen Nessen

Bikers at the starting line on Church Street near Battery Park in the 5 Boro Bike Tour.

Bikers riding through Central Park in the 34th annual 5 Boro Bike Tour.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Bikers riding through Central Park in the 34th annual 5 Boro Bike Tour.

Bikers riding through Central Park in the 34th annual 5 Boro Bike Tour.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Bikers riding through Central Park in the 34th annual 5 Boro Bike Tour.

Bikers riding through Central Park in the 34th annual 5 Boro Bike Tour.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Bikers riding through Central Park in the 34th annual 5 Boro Bike Tour.

Bikers crossing the Madison Avenue Bridge into Queens during the 34th annual 5 Boro Bike Tour.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Bikers crossing the Madison Avenue Bridge into Queens during the 34th annual 5 Boro Bike Tour.

Bikers getting on the FDR Drive south during the 34th annual 5 Boro Bike Tour.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Bikers getting on the FDR Drive headed south during the 34th annual 5 Boro Bike Tour.

Many helmets were decorate for the occasion.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Many helmets were decorate for the occasion.

Many helmets were decorate for the occasion.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Many helmets were decorate for the occasion.

The entrance for all bridges was slowed down by the number of bikers on the road.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

The entrance for all bridges was slowed down by the number of bikers on the road.

Queensboro bridge was temporarily shutdown for the 5 Boro Bike Tour.
Stephen Nessen/WNYC

Queensboro bridge was temporarily shutdown for the 5 Boro Bike Tour.

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Comments [23]

Mike Ellis from San Francisco CA

I, fortunately, was ahead of the backup at the BQE. But I have feedback for the organizers as well. I paid $300 to get VIP treatment, which means lunch provided and most importantly start at the front of the line. First, the lunch was outstanding (buffet of actual cooked food instead of box lunch). That was a huge homerun (my 4th 5BBR). But the VIP getting to the front was a total BUST. I passed the starting line about 2-3 minutes after the "first" riders, so obviously I was near the front. But somewhere a block or two into the ride, about 500-1000 additional people poured in from a side street and blocked up traffic terribly. For at least the first hour, I was fighting traffic and passing people who had no VIP lanyard. The benefit of starting early was completely contravened by the rude people who cut in front. Marshalls need to be stationed at side streets (more?) to be sure this doesn't happen again.

May. 08 2011 12:12 PM
John

Use the feed back form on Bike NY home page.See their invite.

We also want your feedback (positive or negative) from the Tour experience. Your participation is important to us, and we encourage you to contact us with any questions, concerns, or suggestions. We are using your feedback to improve next year’s Tour.

May. 07 2011 10:55 AM
Eric Schmidt

Loved it! Admittedly, my brothers and I were at the start at 6:30 am and stayed up towards the front. Our waits were not unreasonable and what an exciting way to experience the city. We are from Cleveland. We were impressed by the logistics and support personnel.

May. 05 2011 08:42 AM
Jim Demers from NYC

It is beyond belief that somebody actually thought, "32,000 people, with bikes, and a 15-foot-wide ramp. What could possibly go wrong?"
I've been riding the 5BBT since the 1980s, and never, ever has it been remotely this bad. (Backups in Central Park? Since when?) Anyone with even a vague familiarity with basic traffic management could have seen this fiasco coming... too bad no such person was involved in planning the event.

May. 04 2011 09:59 PM
Stephen from NYC

Nice weather but it should have been called the 5 boro walking tour since thats what we did for half of it because of bottlenecks . needs to be organized better . 3rd ave under the gowanus should have been utilized . we even walked most of central park which is something ive never done on this tour . and for 70 bucks we should have been given some free food instead of being strong armed for 4 dollar burger at the rest stops .

May. 04 2011 09:31 PM
BB from Boston

I was one of the unfortunate ones who got clipped by an aggressive rider (who clearly thought this was a race) in Central Park and went face first into the ground. It was so poorly organized and the amount of people was insane. I have a broken cheekbone, and wrist not to mention many contusions on my body. The ambulance driver and doctors at St. Luke's were excellent. But, Bike New York Marshalls, could not get an amublance to me so I had to ride to where the ambulance was on the corner, disoriented, in pain and bleeding. Never will recommend or do it again. Sad....(i think they should have marshalls that pull people out of the tour who are riding too aggressively. I'm not sure where the guy thought he was going, there were 10,000 people in front of me). Not to mention, if i was a younger person (or little kid), the would have probably killed them. I also witnessed another crash as I waited. This person was on the ground screaming in pain. Very Very poorly organized.

May. 04 2011 10:52 AM
johnnyb from Rochester, NY

Horribly managed. BQE 1.75 hr wait, 45 mins in Central park, over an hour at start and numerous other unnecessary prolonged logjams. Poorly stocked and overpriced rest stops. Is it too much to ask for some free pizza for $75 entry fee?? I've never paid for food at a running event ever and I've attended many. Almost nothing free on Sunday. Where is the free sports drink? Hardly any to be found and what was there was in tiny shot glasses. They are lucky no one dehydrated.

Other commenters were right on...if it had been 85 degrees on BQE, there'd be a world of s hit for Bike NY. Still inexcusable .

May. 03 2011 03:07 PM
Lynne from PA

My husband and I had a great time up until about mile 30. We were discussing our plans for doing it again next year. Then, the BQE two hour backup swore us off of any thoughts of coming back. Why in the world were there no warnings? We saw the sign - "next rest stop in 9 miles" and thought, "no problem, we can skip this one and wait". How difficult would it have been to put an extra sign at the "short-cut" that you would avoid a 2 hour walk/stand on the BQE if you took the short cut. There was no escape once you got there. Instead of a nice 10 hour day together, we spent 18 hours coming/riding/walking/going. Unbelievable fiasco!

May. 03 2011 02:51 PM
tourist

I was in town for the weekend to enjoy NYC. I spent four hours in auto traffic and wasted a whole day. I also spent hundreds of dollars on rooms, food and gas. Who is going to reimburse the thousands of people trapped in traffic during that time. The routes I travelled provided no warnings or notices that this event was occurring and major auto routes would be completely shut-down for hours. I will never visit NYC again.

May. 03 2011 11:05 AM
juana from new jersey

first time rider. was actually scared at times with the sheer numbers of people going way too fast without total control and those going way too slowly riding serpentine across road. way too many people, walked way too long. i avoided the above mentioned BQE crawl, but we did walk. anyone know how the lady is who crashed head and chest first into the tree in Brooklyn? she was taken out by a rider who slid in gravel going down hill and was unconscious when we stopped....
will never ever do this again. plenty of other rides better organized and safer in jersey

May. 03 2011 08:39 AM
Mike from NY

I heard the back up on the BQE was like the white people's Katrina

May. 02 2011 10:04 PM
Mike

Some people are calling the event

May. 02 2011 10:01 PM
Jim McCabe from New Jersey

This is what I wrote to BikeNY last night:

my 6 friends and I were having a wonderful day....until mile 30...what were you all thinking, if it had been hotter in could have been deadly!
We walk and stood for 2 hours , walking 1 mile, insane.
I thought Bike New York, was a responsible company that knew what they were doing, you proved me wrong.
I met Hannah at the end and she heard there were problems, we all want to hear why we paid so much for a tour that was ruined 3/4 of the way through.
In that 2 hours we stood, the weather turned cold, our muscles tightened up, making the balance of the tour, just survival to finish.
I have been on the BQE going to the VB 100's of times, why when the BQE slit did we go left instead of Right -away from the construction- to the bridge? That is how I have got'n there for the last 30 years
OR - take 3rd ave?

You lost a LOT of credibility and repeat customers - you could hear it in the crowd.

I would like to hear from you about the points above.

May. 02 2011 09:33 PM
kamana from Pittsburgh

We were stuck 2.5 hrs on the BQE, resulting in a post-race ER visit for my husband. Saw several adults who wet their pants. Apparently, this delay occurs every year, but was considerably worse this year. People missed flights, had to extend hotel stays, etc. NO WARNING regarding the delay was given nor an opportunity to bypass the mess.
Those who sought SAG support due to fatique or injury had to wait hours in the bus.
Food was gone at the rest stops and we never made it to the afterparty - all this after paying $300 a pop for VIP registration. What a joke. Won't do this again.

May. 02 2011 09:14 PM
jboyer

My first year in the 5BBT, and had a great time with my daughter. We had a few minor waits at what we were told are the normal spots, but other than that we flew along the route. Thanks to all of the volunteers, marshalls, and police. We were in line at 6:15 am, so maybe getting there early is the key. Can't wait until next year to do it again!

May. 02 2011 04:53 PM
allan

two plus hours stuck.this year sucked.the marshals do nothing and the price was raised.everyone should get a free ride next year.

May. 02 2011 04:09 PM
George Small from New Jersey

I have nothing to say. You guys have summed it up pretty well. I have done this rider for many, many years and traditionally there are delays at the start and throughout midtown Manhattan due the the logistics of cross-town traffic and the number of cyclists, but this was ridiculous. I never imagined I would walk from 59th st to 72nd street in Central Park. How about considering West Ave next time? My suggestion? Riders, to The Farmlands Tour in Lindhurst, NJ Next year. Much nicer, better organized.

May. 02 2011 03:13 PM
CycleMike_NJ from Bergen County, NJ

This years event should be dubbed the "Hurry up and wait Walk-A-Thon". A poorly planned and poorly organized event. Our 80-90 min. standing delay on the BQE was bull-$h*t as well as the delay in Staten Island causing people who were street parked (i.e. us) to be corraled like cattle among those who used the ferry (terminal). I say cut and cap the headcount next year to 22,000. Two thumbs down regarding sunday!!

May. 02 2011 03:00 PM
discgoddess

I'll venture to say that the long wait on the BQE was brutally inhumane and dangerous. Imagine it were a hotter day, people were dehydrated, unable to access water, and they get heat stroke or pass out, but are trapped by 10,000 people, a sheer drop on one side, and 60 mph oncoming traffic on the other side? This was potentially life threatening scenario for which the organizers were lucky that no such thing happened. I myself had a stomach upset and horrible diarrhea and nearly died from the pain of waiting for two hours to then ride 4 miles to the next rest stop.

May. 02 2011 02:05 PM
Elena C from NJ

I have been riding for about 5 years and this year's 5 boro was the worst coordinated ride I have participated in. It is beyond my understanding how there were no contingency plans for the construction on the BQE. If no changes are done for the planning of next year event ...at least change the name to the "5 Boro Walk" :)

One positive note - the volunteers were wonderful!

May. 02 2011 10:33 AM
Steve Atterbury from Rochester, NY

First year rider with 3 others from Rochester. I think we stood still longer than we rode! Terrible org. Delays were brutal. Our ride was shortened by 5 or 6 miles, also. Even though we were in line by 7am! Many thanks to volunteers who worked very hard to help with directions, rest stops, water, etc. As always NYPD, FIRE, and Medical teams!

May. 02 2011 09:55 AM
Brian Hogarth from New Jersey

I'm in total agreement with jimpugh. I was also stuck on the BQE for two hours and I assumed there was some sort of accident, but when an official finally came out and told us that it was a construction delay, I was boiling mad. Where was plan B or C? The organizers knew well in advance.

The issue is that when I first rode this event back in the 80's there was only 22,000-23,000 riders. It it raw and there were no bathrooms or festivals, but it was a smoother ride with no delays.

This was my last 5 Boro Bike Tour.....poorly planned event.

May. 02 2011 09:14 AM
jimpugh from New York City

I am a regular rider at this event. This year's was the worst organized. I was stuck on an elevated portion of the BQE for more nearly two hours trapped with over 10,000 bike riders. The experience was like being stuck in an elevator.

The cause was the volume of riders and the narrowing of the roadway from four lanes to one due to construction, a known event. The event planners planned this jam up. The nicest comment I heard from the riders was I bet they dont sell out the spots in this ride in one day next year.

May. 02 2011 09:00 AM

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