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How to Get a Place in New York City's Five Boro Bike Tour

Three Ways to Join in the Nation's Largest Cycling Event


The TD Five Boro Bike Tour is the nation's biggest cycling event. With about 32,000 cyclists, it's about three quarters as big as the New York Marathon.

And, with the immense popularity of urban cycling, not to mention New York City's commitment to increasing the number of bike lanes in Brooklyn and other boroughs, this annual cycling event has become one of the hottest tickets in town.

Which raises the question: How can a person obtain a place in the New York 5 Boro Bike Tour?

Participants Need a "Packet" not a Ticket, Obtained Months in Advance

A ticket to the TD Five Boro Bike Tour isn't actually a physical ticket. It's a packet. In the packet is a vest and some goodies. The only way to get a packet is to follow one of these registration procedures.

Most participants will register through the lottery.

1. Register for the Lottery

In 2011, according to a spokesperson, the 40-mile ride sold out in record time — just 24 hours — leaving a lot of cyclists disappointed. "The year prior, it took 25 days to sell out," said a spokesperson. “Bicycling is booming in New York City with more people biking, the growing network of bike lanes, and bike share on its way,” noted Ken Podziba, president and CEO of Bike New York, which produces the event in association with the City of New York and the New York City Department of Transportation.

In response, in 2012 the TD Five Boro Bike Tour initiated use of a registration lottery, much as the NY Marathon has done for years. Registration for 2012 opened on January 17 and closes at 5 P.M. on February 7th. A computer system will randomly select those chosen to ride; participants will be notified and then complete their registration.

2. Join with a Participating Charity and Ride to Raise Money

About forty non-profit organizations are working with the TD Five Boro Bike Tour. Cyclists who want to ride in the Tour may join up with one of these charities, and in exchange for a commitment to raise a given sum of money, can obtain a free registration packet. Check the websites of a few different charities to find out how each particular fundraising program works for this cycling event.

3. Buy Yourself VIP Status

A limited number of places are reserved for VIPs. These may include cycling or political luminaries, but you can also become a VIP by paying $300.

Volunteer This Year, Guarantee a Place Next Year

Finally, here's an incentive: People who volunteer to help out with the event this year are guaranteed a place (without the lottery or a VIP fee) next year.

In 2012, limited number of places have also been reserved for foreign tourists who are participating in this increasingly well known ride as part of a package tour. According to a spokesperson from the TD Five Boro Bike Tour, the majority are Canadian but some are from European and other foreign countries.

Consolation for Lottery Losers?

Cyclists who don't win the bike lottery can still volunteer at the event, go to a huge Bike Expo associated with it, or sign up for other, lower key group cycling tours.

- Bike Expo: A Bike Expo cycling event will be held on May 3-5, 2012 at Basketball City on Pier 36 on Manhattan's lower east side. The Bike Expo is free and open to the public. It will feature vendors, exhibitors, live performances, educational programs about cycling for youth and adults. (Event participants will pick up their packets at the Bike Expo, guaranteeing an automatic crowd of some 30,000 cyclists.)

- Other Rides: Bike New York also organizes regional rides New York City, for instance:

  • Twin Lights Ride in the back roads of Monmouth County, New Jersey,
  • Discover Hudson Valley Ride, and
  • Free Fitness Rides week on nights or weekends.

Proceeds Help Bike Education Programs

Proceeds for the tour go to Bike New York's free education programs. According to a spokesperson, "Last year we taught more than 50,000 youth and adults how to be better cyclists, through Savvy Cycling, Commuting 101," and related programs.

For further information, the official website of the TD Five Boro Bike Tour is http://www.bikenewyork.org/ride/five-boro-bike-tour

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