Seen & Heard: Reactions to the Five Boro Bike Tour

••• “Good reason to look at your ad from every angle,” says M. M. De Voe, having noticed this at Fulton Center. (Click to enlarge.)

Stop Shake Shack by MM De Voe••• R. had no problem with last Sunday’s Five Boro Bike Tour….

So, my space is literally, and I truly mean literally, above the starting line of the event. The bike tour is like a very noisy Swallows of Capistrano coming back to roost every year and I kind of hate it for being so incredibly loud and in my living room. But I figure it’s a great event, brings a lot of different people together and has some really positive energy, so why complain. If it wasn’t here, it would be under someone else’s home, so have at it!

••• G. begs to differ:

At 6:50 a.m., I was awakened by what sounded like the Five Boro announcer yelling at the end of my bed. Our apartment faces Broadway and we are a full block away from where the speakers were set up on Church & Chambers, and yet every person in our apartment was awakened by the race.

I have nothing against bikes. I have a bike. I love bikes because they are quiet. This race in the last two years has not been. Last year, there were similar complaints and the organizers promised to not repeat the mistakes of last year. Then they did.

I actually got up and walked down to complain. It turned out the main stage is on Franklin. On my way down, I stopped and talked to the guys at Gotham Bikes—to ask if they knew who/where was in charge. They didn’t but yelled to me, “We’re here as a courtesy bike station and I can’t even hear what people are trying to tell me is wrong with their bike.” I stopped an NYPD officer who said, “I agree. It’s way too loud. You have to talk to your Community Board, which issued the permit.” I finally found the stage at Franklin and went up to it. I talked to a man who said to me, “We’ve been here for 38 years.” I responded, “38 years ago this wasn’t a residential neighborhood and it’s only the last two years that this has been a problem.” I told him where my apartment is and that it woke us all up and it was just too loud. To which he responded, “Think if you lived on Fifth Avenue—you’d have stuff like this going on all the time.” Which makes no sense. But I replied, “I live one block away from your speakers and they woke us all up. It’s too loud!” He walked away so I talked to someone else, who also replied, “We’ve been here for 38 years.” I said, largely the same thing as before but added, “I live across the street from City Hall. They have protests there constantly and this race start—at 7 a.m. on a Sunday—is louder than anything I’ve ever experienced. I’m not opposed to the bike race—just the volume you have the speakers turned up to.”

It was kind of infuriating. But walking home, I realized, they did turn the volume down—and I ran into both the police officer and the Gotham Bikes guys, who agreed. ” When I got home, we could hear a little bit of music, nothing that would have awakened us. The volume was definitely down.

I could care less if the bike race starts in our neighborhood. It’s just the volume of the speakers. If they’ve been here 38 years, how about they go back to the old days and use the same sound system used 38 years ago. Last year, they claimed to have heard the concerns of the people who live in the neighborhood but this year they ignored us. The neighborhood needs to speak out in force to CB1. There is no reason for the race not to be respectful to the neighborhood, in which case we will, as we have for 36 years, welcome the start of the Five Boro Bike Tour in our neighborhood.

••• The cobblestones on Greenwich, especially near Laight and Vestry, are even worse than before. It’s hard to capture in a photo—check it out next time you’re around there.

••• Friends of Duane Park‘s Celebrate Spring event is this Sunday, May 8, from 10 a.m. to noon: “We will be potting plants, decorating planters, swaying to cool samba tunes, and eating treats. We encourage everyone to grab their mom and join in the fun on their way to or from brunch.”

••• From the Tribeca Design District: “In conjunction with NYCxDesign 2016, a variety of showrooms and galleries in the neighborhood will be open for extended hours, cocktail receptions, and exhibit openings [on May 12]. Hours and events vary from showroom to showroom. A newly designed printed map and website will be unveiled alongside the neighborhood walk to be distributed at participating showrooms as well as key locations around the city.”



  1. All of the heavy construction equipment coming through northwest Tribeca is likely also partly responsible for the state of the cobblestones (in addition to some poor quality original work). Are developers in any way accountable for the wrecks they make when they tear up the neighborhood to work on their projects? Just look at the mess at 443 Greenwich.

  2. Also Varick just past Canal has gotten worse too, I won’t even drive down Greenwich anymore.

  3. 1. The Bike Tour is likely way in violation of the commercial music and other provisions of the NYC Noise Code (and should not in my opinion be granted a variance by Depth of Environmental Protection or any other City agency from its provisions). Next year the operators should agree or be compelled not to exceed, with their amplified music and speech, a pre-set decibel limit within a fixed radius in compliance with the code. They should pay to have a noise consultant or DEP inspector on-site with a sound meter if necessary.

    See links at

    2. The Belgian blocks on the streets look nice in theory but are impractical in the 21st century. The damaged areas are usually the scars that remain from closing street excavation “wounds.” The streets must be dug up periodically to repair and access myriad utilities, including electric, gas, water, sewer, and telecom. The contractors are incapable of properly and durably resetting the blocks, despite the DOT rules and inspection procedures already in place.

    DOT cannot enforce durable repairs despite the many regulations already mandating minimum sized openings, restoration from one curb to the other across the street, inspections at each stage of the contractor’s work, etc.

  4. I watched as the original cobblestones were reclaimed from their depths, cleaned, and replaced in SOHO, Greene Street, specifically…that was years ago…

    Here’s the problem. When the cobblestones were first laid, they were touching one another, with little or no “space” between them…seems someone got the the less than stellar idea to “grout” them with concrete, which, of course, breaks apart relative to the stones themselves, and leaves loose, wobbly cobblestones..

    Had anyone walked a few blocks into SOHO, they could have witnessed the poorly planned “grouted” stones, loose, and making a mess..

    Nest the cobblestones together, so there’s no “wiggle room” and they should last a century or more..

    I disagree that they’re ‘impractical’…explain that to the Romans..

    • I agree.

      And why can’t there be rules and enforcement of those rules by the city? If service providers or developers need to tear up taxpayer-funded work, they should be held accountable for properly repairing its condition.

      • What makes you think there are not such rules already?

        Rules of the City of New York, Title 34 (Department of Transportation), Section 2-11(e)(12) reads in relevant part:

        “(vi) Whenever any street is excavated, the permittee shall restore such street in kind as to material type, color, finish or distinctive design.

        “(vii) Pavements shall be restored in kind in designated historic districts and on streets constructed with cobblestones or other distinctive pavements, or as directed by the Commissioner.”

        The problem is that the enforcement efforts are clearly ineffective.

    • I have lived in the neighborhood of Greenwich, Franklin, Harrison, Jay and Hudson Streets for nearly 40 years. The first cobblestone replacement I recall was on Jay Street supposedly laid by professionals from either Spain or Portugal. Now those cobblestones are about 2″ apart and shifted so no one can walk on them unless they wear thick rubbersoled shoes. Then came Franklin and N. Moore Streets a few years ago. They are even in worse shape. Compare this mess to the remaining original cobblestones on Franklin between Varick and Hudson, on the sides near the curbs. Notice how close the cobblestones still are and they are smooth side on top not the chunky sides which are on the newly cobbled blocks. No wonder the bike riders use the sidewalk, they would be dead otherwise! About time we use these cobblestones on alleys like Staple St, Cortland Alley, etc with very light traffic and no trucks. Or use them as decorative frames or accents in parks.

  5. I also went to speak to folks from the Bike Tour. I’ve lived here for 12 years and every year it’s annoying but this year it was even louder than in the past. I did the same thing as G…spoke with cops who felt it was too loud as well as others. In past years they’ve had smaller speakers but every 10 feet or so. This year, giant speakers every 20 feet or so. I have never understood this. The speakers go from Franklin to at least Chambers (perhaps further but I don’t live that far down). I live 4 blocks away, between Church and Broadway and face north. With my windows shut and a fan on for white noise, I could still tell you everything Mr. G said about the weather. That’s just too loud. And while I like Prince, I wasn’t in the mood to “go crazy” at stupid-thirty on Sunday morning. I told them I had no issue with the Bike Tour itself (though I wish they would stay in the road and not ride on the sidewalk!) but that the music was way too loud and couldn’t they just lower it a bit? The woman I spoke with first said it was loud because we were behind the stage. I said it’s just as loud 4 blocks south. She said, “Well if I lived in the city, I would have an expectation of this sort of thing.” Sorry, that’s not an appropriate answer. Especially as I wasn’t saying don’t have the music or the event, but rather asking them to be a little considerate of the people who live here. She then told me I should just go away each year on this weekend. Nice, eh?