Five Boro Bike Tour could be in danger over police traffic fee
The TD Five Boro Bike Tour has hit a roadblock as its organizers and the city duke it out in court over the cost of police protection.
Bike New York Inc. wants the Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management to waive its $900,000 fee to cover police traffic control costs for the May 5 event.
It contends it's exempt because the event -- in which cyclists can ride on highways and typically off-limit roads -- is non-profit.
"We read the city's rules and we didn't believe that it applied to us," Bike New York's CEO Kenneth J. Podziba said.
A State Supreme Court judge Monday ordered the group and the city to court April 10 over the lawsuit filed by Bike NY.
Since 2011, the city has made groups pay for traffic management if the event is an "athletic parade." Events that raise money for charity are exempt.
Podziba said the group charges each of the 32,000 riders $86 for the tour, the proceeds of which fund its free safety training courses and other programs.
Gabriel Taussig, chief of the Administrative Law Division for the city's Law Department, said the lawsuit and Bike NY's claims have no merit.
"It is difficult to understand how Bike NY, which runs a purely recreational event .... can argue that the event's purpose is to raise money for charitable donations," he said.
Councilwoman Gale Brewer was one of two officials that urged the city to reconsider Monday.
"A fair compromise can and should be reached here, to arrive at a fee that makes sense for a small organization like Bike New York," she said in a statement.
Councilman Jimmy Vacca, who chairs the Transportation Committee, said Bike New York spends millions a year to teach city cyclists how to avoid accidents.