Cyclists whizzed through the streets of downtown Manhattan early Sunday morning, turning the Financial District into a scene one would expect to find at the Tour de France.
Except these 32,000 bicyclists weren’t at the annual TD Five Boro Bike Tour as much for competition as for health, camaraderie and to take part in what they see as a growing pro-bike sentiment in New York City.
“I’ve been looking for some sort of bike race to do and someone told me about this,” said Toby Sklute, 36, who took up biking as an alternative to running after knee surgery about a year ago. “I found out about it after the opening enrollment for it, so I had to do it through a charity.”
While the majority of tour participants that amNewYork spoke to said that they had never ridden in the event before, Kristen Gundersen, 31, said she pulls out her bike once a year to raise money for charity.
“What I love about this is you can be any level and you can participate,” she said. “Every time I do it, it reminds me of how much I enjoy biking in the city, especially under these conditions because there’s no traffic to deal with and it feels a lot safer.”
That safety has come to the streets of the city over the last few years with nearly 30 miles of protected and 400 miles of on-street bike lanes winding throughout the five boroughs, according to Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, who spoke to the bikers before the event.
Bike lanes are just the beginning in the city as the Citi Bike Share program is set to begin this month. The program will allow residents and tourists to take out rental bikes from docking stations around the city for 30 or 45-minute rides, according to the program’s website.