In a borough still lagging in physical fitness and tourism, Bronx officials hope this year’s 19th annual Tour de Bronx will continue to shatter that mold.
“This is a tour, not a race,” emphasized Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., joining officials at The New York Botanical Garden, the finish line for the tour that’ll take riders to an estimated sixty neighborhoods.
Thousands of cyclists will take part in this year’s cyclist quest, slated for Oct. 27th at 9:30 a.m.
Though the name’s inspired by the Tour de France, the event serves as a vehicle for out-of-town cyclists to familiarize themselves with a borough battling its once dystopian days.
“There’s a lot that we need to celebrate here,” said Diaz, continuing his push to re-brand the Bronx as it goes through an economic boom. “This is a wonderful opportunity for those outside the borders and alike to participate and get a first-hand quality experience of the ‘New Bronx.’”
Diaz, taking part in last year’s race, will once again don a helmet to join the thousands of avid cyclists. But count him out on the more lengthier 40-mile route. He’s already sticking to the 25-mile course that offers him the chance to dismount and view the eerily majestic Woodlawn Cemetery.
His push to show off the Bronx through the tour is helped by it’s being a free event, a major incentive for cyclists who shell out registration fees that run from $20 to $100 at other tours. It’s no wonder the tour stands as the biggest in the state.
“The free attraction to the ride is huge, hopefully it stays free,” said Caren Gallinari, a high-level manager and chair of the Bike Tour Club for Montefiore Medical Center, encouraging staffers to bike to work.
Gallinari is among the stronger advocates pushing for the tour, along with Transportation Alternatives, a special interest group promoting a more bike-friendly city.
“The tour attracts people from all over the borough to all over the state,” said Gallinari, one of last year’s 6,000 tour cyclists, which also drew folks from Italy, Poland and Tokyo.
Montefiore Medical Center is the lead sponsor for the event, once again on par to shatter the borough’s status as the city’s unhealthiest.
“By getting them on bikes, we are starting little by little to change the ailments and situation of the Bronx,” said Roberto Garcia, Montefiore’s senior director of community and governmental relations.
Interested riders can register at Borough Hall at 851 Grand Concourse at 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 27th. Helmets will be provided by the city Transportation Department while supplies last, and children under 18 will be turned away unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.