Remember a few weeks back the New York police department wanted to change the status of the 5 boro bike tour to a non-charitable event? The rationale was basically for the police to charge Bike New York, who runs this hugely popular group ride, close to a millions dollars to effectively “do-their-job”, of closing streets and ensuring the safety of 32,000 cyclists traveling through all five boroughs. This would basically wipe out the organizations entire budget which it uses the money it raises to give back to the community with many other free rides and adult bicycle education…quite charitable actually. Manhattan judge, Margarette Chan agreed and said: ““Some issues in promoting this tour may be questions for the IRS, but I don’t think it’s a question for the police department. Bike New York does charitable work … The way they’re raising money isn’t to your liking.” The event was spared the fee and now the show will go on, sort of.
Well cut forward to a couple of senseless Chechnyan brothers on a terror rampage and now the NYPD is “all about safety” at large public gatherings. The latest is they have put in place some new restrictions on the five boro bike tour including no hydration packs, backpacks or saddle bags. Here is a recent update from Gothamist:
5 Boro Bike Tour Bans Backpacks, For Safety
By: Lauren Evans
April 26th, 2013
Photo from Bitchcakes flickr.
We’ve been wondering how the 5 Boro Bike Tour, for which 32,000 cyclists will pour onto city streets next Sunday, will handle its security in light of the Boston Marathon bombings. Today, we got our answer: No backpacks, no saddlebags and NO hydration packs, a statement from organizers Bike New York says.
We don’t even know what a hydration pack is, but suddenly, we’re just incensed that we can’t have one. (Update: It’s this thing.) Why would the cruel Bike New York overlords take away our freedom to have our thirst quenched like some sort of spandex-clad cycling warrior? Bike New York CEO Ken Podziba told us that the changes were agreed upon by various local, state and federal officials, and that they are an unfortunate necessity to ensure that the event remains safe.
“We’re not happy that we have to impose security measures, but safety is our number one priority,” he said. “I think most riders understand that. We’re not just imposing these restrictions because we feel like it.”
Fanny packs, water bottles and “small bike frame bags” will still be allowed, and Podziba said that bags smaller than 12-by-5 inches are also acceptable, even if they’re backpack shaped. Podziba also assured us that the route features frequent rest areas at which riders can fill up their water bottles. Another change from years past is that family, friends and total strangers will not be allowed to congregate at the Staten Island finish line, meaning that cyclists will be forced to awkwardly cheer for themselves.
Read more: here.
Now I understand the NYPD heightening security in regards to the bombing at the Boston Marathon, but who exactly are they protecting? Certainly not the participants from hydrating themselves. Remember 2011, when the tour route was mismanaged and the participants were stuck on various parts of the ride? This was also the year Bike New York didn’t have enough free food and water at their rest stops. So it seems a bit ridiculous to deny the riders themselves the ability to have their own stuff. I seem to remember the Boston bombing came from spectators, so unless the NYPD is planning on banning all those along the side lines, these new restrictions seem a bit unnecessary. It should be noted that riders are allowed fanny packs and small frame mounted bags, so pack accordingly…I guess this means no small children will be on the ride cause judging from experience with a 4 1/2 year old…you need more snacks that can fit in a fanny pack. Guess the terrorists won this one.
I also think it’s worth pointing out that in other terrorist attacks or near misses, restrictions are the first thing put in place. The liquid bomber, no liquids on planes. The shoe bomber, take your shoes off at airport security. Now with the Boston Bombing, new scrutiny at active events like marathons and group rides. Yet when people die in shootings at a batman movie or elementary school kids die such as Sandy Hook, our government can’t even pass the weakest of gun reform.
Have a safe ride.