STATEN ISLAND — The fourth annual bike ride around Staten Island will take cyclists through the former Freshkills landfill site for the first time.
Transportation Alternatives' annual "Tour de Staten Island" next month will include a five-mile trip around the normally closed-to-the-public Freshkills Park. A second, longer route will also be added to the event.
"In some cases, the trip to Staten Island is longer than the actual bike ride," said Ben McRoberts, events director for the group. "We wanted to give them a real destination ride."
Riders will get the option to take the regular length 20-mile and a new 40-mile route that covers the entire circumference of Staten Island, a trek McRoberts said would get riders to visit parts of the borough normally missed.
"Most people don't ever go out to the South Shore. There are miles upon miles of beaches and some really beautiful neighborhoods," he said. "That coast line is something else."
Both routes will let riders stop in the usually unopened Freshkills Park and give the option of an extra five-mile tour of the park's bike paths.
The park is opened occasionally for activities and events, but it's generally closed to the public. This will be its first cycling event, McRoberts said.
"That's exciting for us," he said.
"We took a shot in the dark to see if we could somehow get the permission to ride through, and surprisingly they said yes."
The "Tour de Staten Island" will not have the same police escorts used in Transportation Alternatives' rides through other city boroughs. Instead, like past years, it will be a "ride at your own pace" event featuring arrows to guide riders along the routes.
While McRoberts said ridership has mostly been from residents outside of Staten Island, he said the group is working to change that and has seen a boost in local riders.
"Our ridership has been people outside of Staten Island and we're working hard to change that," he said. "Cycling is slowly catching on in Staten Island."
The "Tour de Staten Island" will be on Sunday, April 13. Check in at the Richmond County Ballpark from 8-9 a.m. for the 40-mile ride, and from 8:30-9:30 a.m. for the 25-mile journey. Price is $15 for Transportation Alternatives members, $20 for non-members.