The 5 Boro Bike Tour: Tough to Arrange, Tough to Finish

Good morning. It’s Friday. Today we’ll look at what it takes to stage the Five Boro Bike Tour, scheduled for Sunday. We’ll also get details about an appellate decision in a case that could force changes in policies at public schools with selective admissions policies.

Credit…Yana Paskova for The New York Times

Kenneth Podziba began by saying that it was harder to stage the Five Boro Bike Tour than it was to stage the New York City Marathon.

He is the president and chief executive of Bike New York, a nonprofit group that promotes happenings like the bike tour, which is scheduled for Sunday.

Then he said that he did not want to sound as if he was “bashing or belittling the Road Runners” — the New York Road Runners, the organization that puts on the marathon, the largest of its kind in the world. But Podziba did not, um, backpedal. Mounting the bike tour, the largest of its kind, “is a lot harder,” he said.

How so? Both events cover much of the same ground, from the 2.6-mile-long Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge to highways like the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. But Podziba said that bicyclists were different from runners. They face hazards that marathoners do not have to worry about.

That is why the bike tour has blowtorches at the ready.

The volunteers carrying them look for expansion joints — narrow connectors between strips of pavement that give the concrete room to move. Only a little, to be sure. But there are two long expansion joints on the F.D.R. that go in the same direction as the traffic, creating a potential hazard for cyclists who do not see them in time to swerve away, Podziba said.

On the Third Avenue Bridge, where the expansion joints run across the road, “the gaps are large enough” to pose problems, he said. Runners would probably not notice the unevenness, but a bicycle rider could go over the handlebars if a tire hit at the wrong angle.

The solution? Put tape over the expansion joints.

The tape will not stick if the joints are wet, Podziba said, so on a damp day the bike tour volunteers go out with blowtorches to dry the joints — carefully, said Podziba, who was the city’s sports commissioner under two mayors, Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, and served as deputy commissioner of the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

After looking at the rainy forecast for Sunday, he said that “it looks like we will need to use the blowtorches.” (A spokeswoman for the New York Road Runners said that “we don’t employ this method” and noted that her group worked with the Department of Transportation “to ensure the marathon course is safe for all participants.” Bike New York does, too, Podziba said. The two groups also coordinate with other city agencies, like the Police Department. And Bike New York removes the tape from the expansion joints once the cyclists have ridden by.)

And then there are the potholes.

Before the marathon, the Road Runners can put a cone over a pothole, Podziba said, but, he added, “we can’t.” The bike tour has volunteers who wave riders around potholes. Volunteers also work to smooth out potential bottlenecks like one that Podziba was concerned about on Kent Avenue in Brooklyn, where he said a lane was partly closed for construction work. The bike tour will close that lane all the way so that riders do not have to snake in and out on Sunday.

Different starting points

The two events start in different places — the marathon on Staten Island, the bike tour in Manhattan, at Church Street and Franklin Street in TriBeCa. (The 32,000 riders have been divided into six groups, called waves, that will pedal off at different times on Sunday morning.)

They also end in different places — the marathon in Central Park, the bike tour at Fort Wadsworth, on Staten Island, where there is an after-party.

The bike tour now draws so many riders that Fort Wadsworth “isn’t big enough,” Podziba said, adding, “We need a natural flow of people leaving.”

There is another difference between the bike tour and the marathon. The bicyclists can get a blessing on Saturday at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.

It is something the cathedral has offered cyclists, but not runners, for more than 20 years.

“But we could,” said the dean of the cathedral, the Very Rev. Patrick Malloy, who will officiate at the service.

He will sprinkle holy water on each bicycle before the cyclists take “a festive lap inside the cathedral,” walking the length of the nave while ringing the bells on their bikes. Officials from the Department of Transportation will also be at the cathedral for a helmet giveaway for cyclists who need one — and on Sunday, they will. Bike New York says that helmetless riders will be asked to leave.


It will be a partly sunny day in the mid-60s. The evening will be partly cloudy, with temperatures in the high 40s.


Suspended today (Orthodox Good Friday).

The latest New York news

Credit…Haiyun Jiang for The New York Times
  • Menendez federal trial: Senator Robert Menendez’s lawyers want a psychiatrist to testify at his corruption trial about the impact of his father’s death by suicide. Prosecutors are objecting.

  • Seizing Hamilton Hall: The people who took over a building at Columbia University were part of an offshoot of a larger group that had been camping out in an unauthorized pro-Palestinian demonstration. At least a few of those arrested after the university called the police to Hamilton Hall were outsiders, not students or others who appeared to be affiliated with Columbia.

  • Former police officer gets prison time: Wayne Peiffer was sentenced to 36 months in prison for protecting two sex-trafficking and prostitution businesses in exchange for free sexual services that were sometimes performed at a police station in Brewster, N.Y.

  • Veteran lied about Purple Heart, U.S. says: A woman in upstate New York was arrested and charged with fraudulently claiming to be a recipient of the military award given to those wounded or killed in action, federal prosecutors said.

  • Protesters and anonymity: Doxxing and other consequences have led many student protesters on college campuses to hide their identities. That choice has been polarizing.

The Trump Trial

  • Lawyers and their roles: In cross-examination during Donald Trump’s criminal trial, his defense team cast Stormy Daniels’s former lawyer as a shakedown artist, and the jury listened to a recording of Michael Cohen, a former fixer and personal lawyer for Trump, discussing a hush-money deal arranged by The National Enquirer.

  • What to know: Two weeks after the 12 jurors were impaneled, the case is clipping along, with a half-dozen witnesses heard from. Here are five takeaways from Thursday’s testimony.

Lawsuit challenging school admissions moves forward

At Stuyvesant High School and the city’s other specialized schools, where admissions are based on an entrance exam, only about one in 10 offers last spring went to Black and Latino pupils.Credit…Brittainy Newman for The New York Times

A lawsuit that could force changes in policies at New York City public schools with selective admissions policies is moving forward.

A New York appellate court ruled that a lower court judge had erred in dismissing the case.

At issue is what the lawsuit calls “pernicious racial inequality” in city schools, where students are sorted into two different academic tracks starting as early as kindergarten. The lawsuit argues that the system makes racial inequality worse by assigning children to either general elementary school classes or to specialized gifted and talented classes. Children on the gifted-and-talented track are often channeled into selected middle and high schools.

The lawsuit says that many Black and Latino students face “systematic exclusion” from the gifted and selective pipelines and are denied a sound education, as promised by the New York State Constitution. In 2021, when the lawsuit was filed, gifted and talented classes for elementary school students were about 75 percent white and Asian American, and there were relatively few gifted programs in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods.

Mark Rosenbaum, one of the lawyers who filed the lawsuit, said the decision allowing the case to proceed was “the beginning of the end of the two-tiered education system in New York City.”

City education officials said on Thursday that they were reviewing the court’s decision. But Daniel Weisberg, the first deputy chancellor, pointed to plans to open nine new schools in the fall — including some in underserved areas — in an effort, he said, to give “everybody the best opportunity to get a great education.”


Off Broadway

Dear Diary:

My friend was acting in an Off Broadway play. My wife, two boys and I went to see it.

Unfortunately, we got lost on the way and were 45 minutes late in arriving.

As we approached the box office to get our tickets, the clerk asked if we were the Spanos.

Yes, we said.

Thank God, he replied. We were waiting for you to start.

— Joseph Spano

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.

Glad we could get together here. See you on Monday. — J.B.

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.

Melissa Guerrero, Troy Closson and Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].


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