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Tour de Queens 2011

Transportation Alternatives' 4th Annual Tour de Queens once again didn't disappoint.  2000 riders navigated thru the 18 mile, family-paced course experiencing neighborhoods from Forest Hills to Jackson Heights.  As usual the festivities started and ended in fabulous Flushing Meadow Corona Park in the shadow of the iconic Unisphere.

New York Mets mascot Mr. Met was on hand to lead the riders on a loop around CitiField.  Though led around by pedicab, Mr. Met is keeping himself in great shape at 49.  He posed for plenty of photos with an awful lot of female admirers, and there was no sign of Mrs. Met.  Hmmmmm....

Robin Urban Smith is a multimedia storyteller who prefers to go by bike.

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  • Sam

    family pace is 5mph? I barely held balance on the bike!

  • Anonymous

    The cops were driving painfully slow, causing a lot of people to bail in the middle.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marcrweiss Marc Weiss

    The previous two commenters nailed it dead on.  I bailed at Queens Blvd because the pace was dangerously too slow.  Riders were bunching up. Unlike the Tour de Brooklyn where there were motorcycle cops riding ahead to close off streets, this one had just 2 cop cars that were moving on idle and making us stop for 10 min @ each major intersection.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marcrweiss Marc Weiss

    I'm wondering why my comments were removed from T.A.'s Facebook page ?  No profanity was used, just honest criticism of the event, which was not up to the TA's normally top tier standards like Tour de Brooklyn was.

  • http://profiles.google.com/subtle116 dave “paco” abraham

    i didn't get to ride it this year, and perhaps it was frustratingly slow as some already commented, but one thing is blatantly obvious - biking around the borough put smiles on lots of faces. Thanks for posting the video.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marcrweiss Marc Weiss

    Dave, the ride was not up to TA's normally high standards due to lack of police support.  The Tour de Brooklyn had motorcycle officers jumping ahead to rope of streets, so we could bike through. This event had just 2 cop cars going about 5mph at best.  They also made us stop at each major intersection, which caused riders to cluster in unsafe conditions. At times we waited 5-10 minutes before we began moving again.  I'm not sure who's fault this was, but I hope it will be addressed, so next year could be better.  I would suggest they use the same tried and true methods used during Tour de Brooklyn, which worked very well.  I'm not sure why they deviated from the norm to be honest ?

  • Mikepkf

    omg....5mph avg i think...people crashing into each other at stops, i think there were probably some folks that just learned how to ride a bike that did the event...not a fun ride at all...i broke off after 2/3's of the ride it was so annoying

  • http://transalt.org Transportation Alternatives

    The Tour de Queens, like the Tour de Brooklyn, is highly dependent upon the support of the NYPD. We work closely with them to insure the safety of the thousands of bicyclists who attend these great family friendly rides.There is no central office for NYPD who handles this and we instead work with the local precincts on each tour. Each precinct has its own methods it wishes to employ, and resources it can allocate. While we can make suggestions, these issues are ultimately out of our hands. We are aware that the first half of the ride was slow and we made adjustments with NYPD at the half way point to create a better flow for the second half. T.A. is committed to continue working closely with the NYPD to always improve upon our tours.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marcrweiss Marc Weiss

    Nothing really needed to be improved on.  The Tour de Brooklyn works like clockwork.  Kudos to the precinct in Brooklyn that has it down to a science.  This precinct in Queens should have copied what has worked so well in the past.

  • Jazzy

    This was without a doubt the worst ride I have ever been on.  I do not know why the Tour de Queens cannot be like other rides such as the Tour de Bronx or Century Ride.  All they did was move DANGEROUSLY slow (people kept tipping over) and tell people to move right of the double-yellow line.  No other announcements.  No warnings when there were cars, holes or bumps.  This was a nice video, but it did not reflect the ride whatsoever.  At least 100 people bailed by the rest stop in Forest Park, including myself.

  • http://twitter.com/brandonzwa Brandon Z

    I've gotta say, this was the first group ride I've ever done and I'm having second thoughts about doing another. The first half was excruciatingly backed-up with stoppages. The 2nd half was a cruising pace for almost its entirety, which almost made up for this first... but heck, when we rode around for another 20 miles or so by ourselves afterward, I had a lot more fun, alas. Nice idea, and thanks to all who organized it, but the experience was more stressful and irritating than it should be if the goal is to promote cycling.

  • TourdeQueens is Fine

    Look, the ride costs all of $5.  It is supposed to be a family fun pace.  It is meant more for new cyclists, children, and just have friendly conversations and making friends.  The first half was a little slow, but the 2nd half was just fine.  Stay away from crossing major thoroughfares like Queens Blvd, and the next one will be just fine.  Or charge $15 or $20 and have a limit of 1,000 peeps.  Stop crying.  There were so many people I met this time who were so happy to be riding a bike for the first time in years, or first time ever on asphalt.

  • sunny disposition

    I attended both the TdQ and the TdBk. The TdQ was horrible and dangerous as others have said. It was not safe for any cyclists, as we were forced to ride slowly and painfully bunched up. These conditions caused unnecessary collisions and in general a terrible ride quality. Some of the volunteers were kind and others were high on authority and kept barking instructions at us. Every conversation I overheard involved complaints and disappointment. This was so unlike the TdBk where everyone seemed to enjoy the ride and the community.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marcrweiss Marc Weiss

    You drinkin' the Kool Aide ?  If this was supposed to be that slow it should have stated that on the web site. Other TA rides like TdBk were not like this at all.  Our expectations were that we were signing up for that type of ride.  No more, no less.  The amount of $ spend is not the point.  I don't go to McDonalds and expect gourmet food with my $, but I also do not expect to be harmed in the process of eating it ?  The website said only the first 1,100 people could sign up due to limitations, which means they over sold.  This probably had something to do with everyone bunching up and the collisions.

  • David

       The locals in several of the neighborhoods were not so friendly, either.

        I've ridden the Tour de Bronx, and that went very smoothly, well enough that I thought this one would go well, too.  I thought that they just registered so many more people this year than in the past that it couldn't be coped with, but it doesn't sound like it.  Has TdQ worked better in the past, had more cooperation from the police, or is it usually like that?

        Perhaps run a different route down one-way streets, to at least avoid blocking the oncoming traffic and the need for the drill sergeants barking about yellow lines.  Do such exist in eastern Queens?

  • Anonymous

    I too bailed, sometime after the Forest Park stop. In addition to the problems already mentioned, the people who lived in the neighborhoods we passed through were given no warning about the inconvenience, which made them justifiably frustrated.

  • Anonymous

    The ride was great. Its not a 'perfect world' and I knew that going in. 

  • susan

    I participated and was VERY DISAPPOINTED.  The ride was dangerous, uncomfortable, and not fun at all.  I will not be participating again. 
     
    We jokingly were calling this the "Eternal Bike Walk of 2011".  Jokingly, but it isn't funny. 
     
    I was so disappointed that this event was so poorly organized. 
     
    What they should have done is to release groups, wait a few minutes, release another group, and so forth.  To release 2000 riders all at once is not too bright.  The entire ride was constant log jams.  We had to constantly get off our bikes and wait 5-15 minutes for the congestion to clear up in front of us. 
     
    It was EXTREMELY dangerous.  I saw so many wipeouts (including one very young child, who hurt himself badly) due to the stop and go.  Furthermore, riding on two lane streets with oncoming traffic was very dangerous as well.  The road needs to be completely shut down for future rides.  So many people were frustrated with the slow pace and stop and go, that they crossed over to the wrong side to pass the crowd.  Very dangerous.  Furthermore, practically none of the riders practiced safe bike riding etiquette.  Other riders kept cutting me off with no signals, and at times crashing right into me.  Riders were passing on the wrong side.  Slow riders were riding in the left "lane".  I saw riders texting and talking on their phones.  Noone signalled turns.  Potholes were not announced (I announced them to riders behind me). Riders stopped short with no signal.  I understand that many of the riders were not seasoned riders.  Even so, I was shocked at the basic lack of respect everyone had for each other.  Appalling. 
     
    Furthermore, the side streets affected should have been signed the day before and cut off 20 minutes completely before and during the passing of riders.  It is unfair to the motorists to make them wait 30 minutes for the procession. Very poorly organized. This was uncomfortable for the riders, as every intersection we were being honked and cursed at.  And it was unacceptable for the motorists. I assure you this hurt the cause of bikers, instead of promoting. 
     
    I wound up getting severe sunstroke.  Very dangerous.  One of the two friends I was riding with also got sunstroke and passed out.  5 hours is just too long to spend in the sun.  I thought I would have been done by noon.  I should have bailed at Forest Park as well, since my parent's house is down the block, but I didn't want to abandon my friends. 
     
    Despite all this, I support the TA, and wish them well with their cause.  I hope they take all our feedback seriously, rather than getting defensive...and use it to make a truly wonderful event next year. 
     

  • Ezrascribe

    I just read the comments, which said the
    ride was slower, and had more stops than the better patrolled Tour-de-Brooklyn,
    but everyone near me seemed to be having a grand time, like I was.  The weather
    was great and undoubtedly more people joined in than was expected.  I understand
    that for variety, a different route (west) was picked than last time
    (east).  I'd definitely do it again.

    --Cary

  • Anonymous

     Word!

  • Speedy4405

    I enjoyed the ride except it was very slow.  The tour de Brooklyn had police cars securing intersections ahead of the tour so we did not have to stop.  There were more Cops and and the drove faster .   I was however able to talk to people as I rode so that was kind of cools I guess.   Brooklyn did it much better I must say.

  • Liner

    Shut down roads for a $5 entry fee? Uh, that would cost more like $100!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/marcrweiss Marc Weiss

    @Liner: No, it actually costs less than $40 to do that in other bike tours.  It costs $5 for TdBk and we have no issues.

  • Anonymous

    @Marc Weiss:There are no road closures for the Tour de Brooklyn. Only the 5 Boro gets total road closure, and that's $75 x 32,000 people. MS Bike, the Gran Fondo and NYC Triathlon get partial road closure, most of the rides are on the west side of the Hudson and all cost well over $100 (not to mention, the Gran Fondo and the Tri are professional races with public slots). You could never get full road closure for $40 a person in New York City.

  • TDQ is fine

    I totally disagree with Marc.  First of all its "Kool Aid" secondly the ride clearly states the following

    "The ride is a rolling parade and there will be occasional stops while the police and marshals secure intersections and gather the mass of riders at crucial intersections."

    If Marc and the others who had derogatory statements about tour de queens had read the information about the ride we wouldn't be having this conversation now and could have prevented what they consider a terrible ride.  

    some friendly advice - you should never get involved in anything without first knowing what its about.