Bicycle Sundays are back. Starting Sunday, May 5, both directions of a 6.5-mile stretch of the Bronx River Parkway will be closed to vehicular traffic and turned into a suburban cycling haven.
An annual tradition since 1974, Bicycle Sundays is one of the region's longest-running recreational programs. Last year, about 60,000 bicyclists, joggers, walkers, scooters and strollers navigated the stretch from the County Center to Scarsdale Road in Yonkers, according to Peter Tartaglia, the deputy commissioner for Westchester County Parks, Recreation and Conservation.
"It's one of our most popular programs," Tartaglia said. "It gives everyone, from younger children all the way through seniors, the experience of riding their bikes on an actual parkway. That's a sort of feeling of freedom and a different type of ride." He noted that the Bronx River Parkway was the earliest parkway to start construction, in 1907.
Bicycle Sundays will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Sunday in May and June, except for May 26. It will pick back up and run at the same time on Sundays in September, except for Sept. 1. There are no Bicycle Sundays events in July or August; this has been the case for about 20 years, because of budgetary concerns and much lower participation during the middle of the summer, when many cyclists are away on vacation, Tartaglia has said.
Tartaglia said the event also helps stimulate the economy for regional restaurants and other small businesses, which benefit from visiting cyclists who stop by to buy breakfast, lunch or other items.
Of course, the cyclists themselves also enjoy the event. The ability to get on and off the parkway at different locations makes Bicycle Sundays equally appealing to families, amateurs and serious bikers, Tartaglia said. It's also appealing to bikers who don't live near the parkway but choose to park their cars in the County Center's east lot in White Plains for $5.
"We've had a very long winter," Tartaglia said. "We think that people cannot wait to get out to ride their bikes this year."
IF YOU GO
What: Bicycle Sundays
When: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. every Sunday in May, June and September (excluding May 26 and Sept. 1)
Where: The Bronx River Parkway between Exit 4 (Scarsdale Road in Yonkers) and Exit 21 (Main Street in White Plains)
Cost: Free to attend; $5 to park a vehicle at the County Center's east parking lot in White Plains
Info: 914-864-PARK or www.westchestergov.com/parks
Entry and exit points along the Bicycle Sundays route (north to south):
Exit 22: Westchester County Center in White Plains (northern terminus)
Exit 21: Main Street in White Plains
Exit 19: Walworth Crossing in White Plains and Scarsdale
Exit 18: Claremont Road in Scarsdale
Greenacres Avenue: Between Exits 15 and 16 in Scarsdale
Exit 15: Fenimore Road in Scarsdale
Exit 14: Butler Road in Scarsdale
Exit 13: Ogden Road in Scarsdale
Exit 12: Crane Road in Scarsdale
Pipeline Road: Between Exits 11 and 12 in Scarsdale
Exit 11: Ardsley Road
Exit 9: Leewood Drive in Eastchester
Exit 8 (southbound): Vermont Terrace in Crestwood
Exit 8 (northbound): Thompson Avenue in Crestwood
Exit 6: Read Avenue in Tuckahoe
Exit 4: Scarsdale Road in Yonkers (southern terminus)
Where to stop for a bite to eat along the route:
Exit 21: Ride a few blocks off the Main Street exit and you're in downtown White Plains, where you'll find any number of eateries. Black Bear Saloon offers brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., which includes unlimited Bloody Marys, mimosas, soda, juice or coffee for two hours with your meal (166 Mamaroneck Ave.; 914-422-3270; www.blackbearwp.com). Legal Sea Foods, which opens at 11:30 a.m., has lobster rolls, burgers and crabcakes, plus more substantial fare, like grilled mahi mahi or nutty Atlantic salmon (5 Mamaroneck Ave.; 914-390-9600; www.legalseafoods.com). There's a kids menu and they offer carry-out if you want to take your meal on the road. Buffalo Wild Wings, open at 11 a.m., has a casual atmosphere and offers its signature wings, plus burgers, salads and a special menu for the kids (1 Mamaroneck Ave.; 914-385-9453; www.buffalowildwings.com).
Exit 15: There are a few options for eats off Exit 15 in Hartsdale. Starbucks, of course, is a quick spot for a caffeine boost or a snack (233 E. Hartsdale Ave.; 914-722-2720; www.starbucks.com). Across from the train station, New American restaurant Harrys of Hartsdale offers a Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (230 E. Hartsdale Ave., 914-472-8777, www.harrysofhartsdale.com). Each brunch entree, including eggs Benedict, huevos rancheros and challah french toast, comes with a complimentary glass of champagne, a mimosa or a Bloody Mary. If you're looking to load up on carbs after all that exercise, there's Frankie and Fanucci's Wood Oven Pizzeria, which opens at noon on Sundays (202 E. Hartsdale Ave., 914-725-8400, www.fandfpizza.com).
Exit 11: Right off the exit in Scarsdale you'll find Dunkin' Donuts (10 Depot Pl.; 914-472-1712; www.dunkindonuts.com) and Giannoni's Deli (22 ½ Garth Rd.; 914-472-4792), two options if you need a quick beverage or bite. If you're willing to travel a bit further, La Renaissance bakery, open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., offers breakfast pastries, cookies and more (9 Harwood Ct.; 914-472-0702; www.lrbakery.com). Kirari Sushi, open at noon, offers traditional sushi rolls and a lunch special, which includes a Japanese entree like chicken teriyaki or shrimp tempura with a California roll, soup, salad and appetizer for about $10 (30 Garth Rd.; 914-725-3730; www.kirarisushi.com).
With Chris Serico