A Much-Improved Five Boro Bike Tour

Bike New York’s Five Boro Bike Tour, which has ruined many spring Sunday mornings in recent years with its insanely loud music and announcements, has turned over a new leaf. “They gave me the birthday present of letting me sleep in,” said Sue , a resident who has been pushing the organization for change. “With my window open, I can hear the roar of the crowd every once in a while and faintly hear the music. With my window closed, just the crowd. Considerably better for me, four blocks south. Can’t speak for how folks are experiencing it if they live near Franklin and Church.”

Luckily, Charles Komanoff was on the case. Here’s his report:

From all appearances, noise levels at the start of this year’s Five Boro Bike Tour this morning were considerably less than in recent years, at least at the official start area—the corner of Franklin and Church Streets.

There were no audible or visible loud-speakers, just the usual cyclists’ whoops and hollers as they streamed north past that corner, and the occasional marshal’s barking at cyclists trying to enter at Franklin to stop cutting the line. All this made for a louder-than-normal Sunday morning in lower Manhattan, of course, as reflected in the measured sound level (averaged over 60 seconds at the SW corner of Franklin and Church at 7:40 a.m.) of 80.0 dBA. While that is loud by textbook standards, the reading was at least 10 decibels less than the levels I measured at the same location at the start of the 2017 ride, meaning that the perceived noise was only half, or even less than half, of last year’s. Moreover, holding decibel levels constant (which is not the case comparing 2018 with 2017), a crowd whooping it up spontaneously tends to be less annoying than blaring loudspeakers.

It is true that, due to an earlier start for this year’s ride, I missed the start by 5-10 minutes. Based on conversations with police and marshals, however, there were no booming speeches, announcement or musical selections. My mentions that I had stopped by to measure noise levels were met with quizzical glances—i.e., why bother?

While I didn’t follow all the ins and outs of CB1’s recent negotiations with Bike New York, my observations suggest that BNY kept its promises and the community won a much quieter 5BBT. If others confirm this, then a big shout-out is owed BNY’s community affairs director Sharon Pope and, especially, CB1’s stellar Quality of Life Committee chair Pat Moore, for shepherding these changes to achieve a much quieter ride start.

As I’ve said before, the event is a neat one, and I don’t know that anyone around here objects to it, as long as they keep the noise down. Here’s hoping this year’s changes are permanent.



  1. I agree from the corner of Church and Thomas, noise was much less this year. Just the cheers from the riders as each group took off. I think it’s a great event so put up with the noise over the years but noticed a marked improvement this year.

  2. At White and Church. MUCH BETTER did not really hear a thing. Congratulations and thank you. Great Event.

  3. The event messed up traffic in Brooklyn and across Staten Island until at least 4:00. This is worse than the marathon. My main concern is for emergency service vehicles getting through during events such as this. Virtually impossible.