As the city's cycling population has boomed in recent years so has interest in the annual, 40-mile Five Boro Bike Tour, with some serious car-like problems as a result. Last year's tour in particular was a mess with bikers stuck for hours on the Gowanus Expressway (are bike traffic jams the future?). So now Bike New York, which organizes the event, is trying to tweak it to make the whole thing more fun and less nightmarish.
The biggest change this year from last is the introduction of a lottery for tickets (like Burning Man!). Why? Well, last year the tour got 32,120 applications in 24 hours, crashing its computers and leaving many interested cyclists off the road. For comparison, in 2010 it "took 25 days for 31,465 registrations, and in 2009, more than a month for 30,097." The new ticket lottery opens next Tuesday and runs through February 7. And if you don't get one of the coveted 32,000 tickets, well, you can still participate if you can raise $750 for charity. You can learn more about the new system right here.
But wait, there's more! In addition to the new lottery the tour going forward will have a slightly modified route to avoid bottlenecks, an additional rest stop at Brooklyn Bridge Park, and staggered starts to keep the crowd flowing. Also, if there are bottlenecks the tour says that it will be keeping people posted with text messages, tweets and Facebook messages. They also say they'll hold people at rest stops to try and even the flow of cyclists.
This year's tour lands on May 6 and we'd like to see the new rules work out. But really, we're waiting to see is if, in 2013, people try and do the tour with Bike Share bikes.