THE BRONX — Bronx officials and health advocates kicked off the Tour de Bronx on Monday, encouraging residents from across the city register and participate in the massive cycling event, which will take place on Sunday, Oct. 14.
Thousands have already signed-up for the 18th annual borough bike ride, according to Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., who announced the tour at Montefiore Medical Center on Monday.
Diaz said the Tour de Bronx is open to everyone, regardless of their cycling experience or ability.
"For those who may be discouraged, this is not a race," he said. "This is a tour. It's an opportunity to see the borough."
Cyclists can choose from either a 25-mile or a 40-mile course, both dotted with rest stops every third of the way. The routes start on E. 161st Street and Grand Concourse, head east through Soundview and Throggs Neck, before heading north and ending at the New York Botanical Garden, where cyclists can celebrate their trek with refreshments and entertainment. The longer, 40-mile path also takes riders through City Island, Wakefield, Woodlawn, Riverdale and Bedford Park.
"This helps the Bronx in tourism, it helps people see and discover the new Bronx, it helps people see wonderful, beautiful neighborhoods," Diaz said.
Over 5,000 riders from all over the tri-state area participated in last year's tour, organizers said. Proceeds from the event will benefit bicycling advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.
Health advocates said the ride is also a way to remind Bronx residents about the benefits of riding a bike.
"We are in the midst of a health crisis, and it's in the Bronx, it's in New York City, it's in the nation," said Dr. Jane Bedell, assistant commissioner at the Bronx District Public Health Office, who said two-thirds of the city's adults are overweight or obese, and only 16 percent of surveyed adults in the Bronx reported riding a bicycle in the last year.
"We need to get the adults out walking and biking, and getting their kids walking and biking, see that it's fun," Bedell said. "There's a lot of Bronx to enjoy."