Security bolstered at Five Boro Bike Tour, but cyclists unfazed
With the Boston Marathon bombing still fresh on the nation's mind, New York's first citywide event is this weekend, as 32,000 bicyclists will ride in the annual Five Boro Bike Tour on Sunday.
Security will be tighter than ever, as the NYPD is reportedly set to increase coverage of the event for both crowds and riders, and certain items permitted in past years - such as large backpacks - are off-limits this year.
Still, the spirit of this year's tour is one of solidarity and compassion, said Ken Podziba, president and CEO of Bike New York, which organizes the race.
"We received an overwhelming response from our riders that they wanted to do something to express their solidarity with Boston, and we're glad to be in a position where we can support them," Podziba said.
"When you ride together with so many people, it just adds so much more meaning," he said.
Organizers have arranged for each rider to wear a sticker that said "I ride for Boston," with a suggested donation of $5 each, all of which will go to helping the victims of the bombing. Advertising was also canceled in the lead up to this weekend in "sensitivity to the bombing," Podziba said, and the pyrotechnics planned for the starting line were cancelled almost immediately after the bombing.
Indeed, the resolve of New Yorkers riding in the tour remains.
"The Boston bombings haven't changed my outlook at all," said Stephen Mayes, 27, of Harlem, who is participating on Sunday.
"While a few fleeting thoughts of apprehension have crossed my mind, I am excited to ride for Boston," he said. "I am looking at my participation in this tour as a memorial to those who were lost and injured in the Boston bombings."
Noah Wildman, 42, of the Lower East Side, will be biking the tour for the 13th year, and is bringing his 4-year-old daughter along for the ride.
"If you get too nervous that you don't do it, then the terrorists win," he said. "It is a concern of mine, especially bringing my daughter, but I know the NYPD has upped security."
He added: "I'm not going to cower in fear because someone blew up a bomb in Boston."