Updated 05/06/2012 05:24 PM
Cyclists Take Over City Streets For Five Boro Bike Tour
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About 32,000 cyclists pedaled through the city Sunday as part of the annual Five Boro Bike Tour.
People from all over the United States and 64 other countries took part in the 40-mile ride that wound through all five boroughs. It was new terrain for natives and visitors alike.
The participants, who started at Lower Manhattan and finished at Staten Island, passed some of the city's most famous landmarks, including the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge.
"It's only my second time here, so it's my way of seeing New York," said one biker.
"I don't even think I've been in all five boroughs before, honestly, so now I will," said another.
Close to half of the riders were joining the pack for the first time.
"I was doing a little research and they said little kids can do it. So I figured, if little kids can do it, I can do it," said a rider.
A 10-year-old cyclist named Adam was going on his third tour on Sunday. Asked what was his favorite part of the route, Adam said, "Possibly going past my house or the Verrazano Bridge at the end."
Even many experienced riders said they do not normally venture out onto the streets.
"I'm a little scared of traffic," said a rider.
Yet the Five Boro Bike Tour lets cyclists rule the roads, without a car in sight. Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said two- and four-wheeled vehicles are sharing city streets like never before.
"Cycling has doubled over the past five years and we've put 270 miles of on-street bike lanes down," said Sadik-Khan. "Safer designs and more and more people are coming out to enjoy getting around New York on two wheels."
More proof of cycling's growing popularity: 35 years ago, only 250 people signed up for the tour. This year, tickets were so in demand, they had to hold a lottery.
That was good news for Bike New York, which organizes the tour and uses the proceeds to fund their education programs.
"We have nine bike education centers, during the week we teach summer camp to underserved kids, on weekends we teach adults and children to ride and bike basics classes," said Bike New York President and CEO Ken Podziba.
For more information about cycling in the city, visit bikenewyork.org.