Furious riders rip MTA threat to make Five Boro Bike Tour pay for lost bridge tolls: ‘They’re out of their mind’

Furious Five Boro Bike Tour cyclists ripped the MTA on Sunday over its reported threat to cost the occasion for lost tolls from the Verrazzano Bridge.

“Between [a potential toll bill] and congestion pricing, I think they’re out of their mind,” Bob Sweeney, a 65-year-old retired firefighter from Queens, seethed of transit officers.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority final month infamously proposed charging the New York City Marathon a whole bunch of hundreds of {dollars} for tolls lost to the bridge’s shutdown through the famed working race, creating such widespread outcry that Gov. Kathy Hochul ordered the company to hit the brakes.

But bike-tour organizers — who had been likewise reportedly threatened with a whopping bridge toll invoice — say they by no means acquired the identical promise of a future reprieve.

Riders in the Five Boro Bike Tour.
The MTA wouldn’t say Sunday whether or not it plans to cost the Five Boro Bike Tour for lost tolls on the Verrazzano Bridge subsequent yr. G.N.Miller/NYPost

While this yr, the bike tour was anticipated to shell out what it did final yr to the MTA, neither the transit company nor Hochul’s workplace would say Sunday whether or not Five Boro could be topic to a devastating huge toll invoice sooner or later.

“That’s ridiculous,” Sweeney mentioned of the state of affairs. “This is a great event, a lot of people that live in the city take part. … They should probably lower the price to get more people to take part.”

Other riders mentioned they concern a possible toll cost — which could increase the bike tour’s $139 entrance charge — may successfully kill participation within the journey, which attracts round 32,000 folks yearly.

“That’s not cool,” mentioned Glenna Hamilton, a 54-year-old workplace supervisor from Queens.

“I don’t think a lot of people would ride — it would deter me from riding,” she mentioned of a price improve. “Why pay so much for an event? You can just go to the park.”

Kenneth Podziba, the CEO of ride-organizer Bike New York, informed The Post that he’s been fearful the MTA would hit the group with a large tab over the lost bridge tolls, estimated for the marathon to have been round $750,000.

“We’re a great event, we’re a charity, we do great things with our money,” Podziba mentioned, including he doesn’t imagine the MTA really loses money as a result of of the tour.

Toll cameras
The wacky MTA lost-bridge-toll cost comes because the transit company is about to begin revving up its controversial congestion-pricing plan in Manhattan, aided by gizmos reminiscent of this. Christopher Sadowski
Riders in the Five Boro Bike Tour.
Right now, the bike tour pays about $90,000 for prices related to closing the bridge to Staten Island through the occasion. John Roca

“They haven’t been able to provide us with any kind of proof of lost revenue,” he mentioned.

“When the governor told the MTA to fix this mess, she was only referring to the marathon — she was silent about the Five Boro Bike Tour, as if we don’t exist,” Podziba mentioned. “I wish the governor would come out and make a statement to fix this mess, as it refers to the bike tour as well.”

The governor’s workplace Sunday directed Post questions to the MTA — which didn’t present any updates as to its plans, together with about whether or not it’s going to strive to cost the tour for lost tolls within the coming years.

The MTA already has its palms full with one other main controversy: congestion pricing, or the transfer to toll drivers within the coronary heart of Manhattan an additional $15 toll beginning subsequent month.

“Bike New York will be reimbursing the MTA for overtime and certain other expenses at the same rate that it did in 2023, and we’ve collaborated with event organizers to reduce those expenses as much as possible,” spokesman Aaron Donovan solely mentioned in an announcement, referring to Sunday’s occasion.

Riders in the Five Boro Bike Tour.
Many riders mentioned they probably wouldn’t return if the doorway charge climbed to pay for the lost tolls. John Roca

“We look forward to a successful event this weekend,” he added.

Bike New York paid roughly $90,000 to use the Verrazzano final yr. That included time beyond regulation and different prices concerned in shutting down the bridge’s decrease deck.

The tour — which snakes 40 miles by means of the town — begins in Lower Manhattan and ends on Staten Island.

Riders informed The Post that hitting all 5 boroughs — together with by biking throughout the town bridge — are half of what makes the occasion value it.

They mentioned that if the tour had to minimize the Verrazzano out — or the associated fee went too excessive — they most likely wouldn’t return.

“The [40] miles of open streets through all five boroughs, no cars, is what I came down here for,” mentioned Abby Lore, a 29-year-old trainer from Washington, DC.

Bikers enjoy a car freen stretch on the BQE near the Hamilton Avenue exit
Gov. Kathy Hochul final month informed the MTA to reverse course when it threatened to invoice the New York City marathon for lost income on the Verrazzano. Gregory P. Mango
Bikers crossing Third Ave
The organizers for the Five Boro Bike Tour say they’re being left at nighttime over whether or not they’ll have to pay a big toll to use the Verrazzano subsequent yr. J.C.Rice

“If it was not as open and accessible, I probably wouldn’t do it,” she added. “The Verrazzano is a key part of this. I felt like it rounded out the whole route.”

Therese Holm, a healthcare employee from Manhattan who did the journey together with her fiancée, mentioned she’d assume twice about registering if the worth inflated, despite the fact that she loves driving down the FDR Drive in Manhattan.

“It gets to a point that I’m not going to pay that kind of money,” she mentioned.

Jay Durdan, a 65-year-old retiree from Dash Point, Wash., mentioned he was floored when he heard the town wished to hike the charges.

“I don’t like it at all,” he mentioned. “New York has its reputation, but when you have these diamond events, it’s one heck of a way to bring people out from around the world and around the United States.

“It’s good for the local economy. Figure out how to raise something in the budget [rather] than raise the rate for an event like this.”

A child rides a bike during the tour.
About 32,000 riders had been anticipated to take part within the Five Boro tour this yr. Tomas E. Gaston

Podziba mentioned he’s hoping the tour subsequent yr doesn’t have to chop off its tail finish, which might maintain riders from heading over the Verrazzano into Staten Island, as a result of of a lost-toll price.

“We’d have to call it a Four Boro Bike Tour, and it wouldn’t be as interesting,” the organizer mentioned.

“They’re trying to take the fun of this great, iconic New York City event. You can only ride on the Verrazzano one day out of the year, and that’s the first Sunday of May for the TD Five Borough Bike Tour, and that’s amazing.

“It would be too bad if we had to make it four boroughs.”

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