For more than six decades, May has been all about bicycles thanks to it being National Bike Month, but here in New York City, we celebrate all things two wheels pretty much every day.
Interest in bicycling around town has sped up thanks to the popularity of Citi Bike, the increasing number of protected bike lanes and the annual Bike Expo New York and the TD Five Boro Bike Tour, which both take place this weekend.
The Bike Expo, which runs Friday and Saturday, is moving to Pier 12 in the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook after six years at Basketball City on Pier 36 in Lower Manhattan following unexpected maintenance needed on the pier.
“We expect it to be just as fun, if not more so, than its previous incarnation,” said Sam Polcer, director of communication for Bike New York, which runs the expo and tour.
The free and open-to-the-public Bike Expo features more than 100 exhibitors, bike-centric programming, food trucks, a beer garden and more, and serves as a packet pickup for Sunday’s Bike Tour, which is in its 41st year and is the largest bike ride in North America.
The 40-mile car-free TD Five Boro Bike Tour begins in Lower Manhattan and winds through the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn until the 32,000 cyclists taking part reach the Finish Festival on Staten Island.
“Riders once again will be able to experience roads they normally can’t ride on any other day the rest of the year, which makes it a special treat for everybody, especially New Yorkers,” Polcer said.
While both of this weekend’s big bike events celebrate cycling, they also serve as an instrumental fundraiser for the nonprofit Bike New York, which taught bike skills to more than 25,000 kids and adults last year.
Cycling safety first
Whether you’re an avid New York City cyclist or looking to see what you’re missing on a Citi Bike, safety should always come first.
“We want people to use their bikes — it promotes exercise, it’s less pollution — but we want to make sure that they’re safe,” said Inspector Dennis Fulton of NPYD’s Transportation Bureau. “We’ve tried to complement that by using enforcement to deter dangerous driving behaviors or, in the case of bicyclists, deter behavior that endangers them.”
While the department has seen an uptick in Vision Zero summonses for both motorists and cyclists the past few years, the department is “prioritized against vehicles — they’re going to do the most damage,” Fulton said. “We also realize that the cyclists sometimes don’t obey the rules and endanger themselves. They’re supposed to obey all the traffic rules a motorist would.”
The NYPD also encourages all cyclists to wear helmets, refrain from using cell phones while riding, keep at least one ear free from earphones and not ride against traffic.
Before hitting the road, cyclists should also check their brakes and tires, said Ralph Jean, a bike instructor and community outreach and membership coordinator at Bike New York. He also suggests being familiar with your route or mapping it out ahead of time.
“They should definitely wear a helmet and always be alert and predictable,” he said.