Vol. 12, No. 19 October 7 - 20, 1999


Bronx Bike Ride Will Showcase Poe Park


abiketour.jpg (21510 bytes)Last stop, Poe Park!

The Bronx's big bike ride, the Tour de Bronx, now in its fifth year, is taking a bit of a detour this year from previous routes to include Woodlawn Cemetery, Bainbridge Avenue and the final destination of Poe Park in Fordham Bedford, where there will be music, food and fun for those who complete a 25- or 40-mile trek around the borough.

"The Tour de Bronx always has a host community and this year it will be Fordham Bedford and Poe Park," said Norwood resident Rich Gans, chair of the Bronx chapter of Transportation Alternatives, a bicycling advocacy group that is one of the sponsors of the free ride.

The timing for the Oct. 17 event couldn't be better. Enthusiasts of Edgar Allan Poe, for whom the park is named, are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the poet's passing (see sidebar). And Poe Park, at the crossroads of the Grand Concourse and Kingsbridge Road, is undergoing a revival that began in 1998 with the donation and installation of a new playground from Saturn of the Bronx, a car dealership. The formation of a volunteer group, the Ravens, which sponsors clean-ups and events in the park, and a pending $880,000 makeover, is also contributing to the renaissance of a green space that Poe once called home. Poe Cottage still sits on the site, and is operated as a museum by the Bronx County Historical Society.

To welcome the riders, the Ravens and the Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation, a local nonprofit which drafted plans to redevelop the park that the Parks Department is now reviewing, will be sprucing up Poe Park and the surrounding area.

Helen Hamer, a member of the Ravens, said her group will be planting flowers around Poe Cottage the day before the event for "It's My Park Day" with the help of students from Fordham University's community service program. The day of the event the Ravens and the students will be back to make sure things run smoothly, Hamer said.

Pat Logan, an FBHC staffer, said his organization has hosted planning meetings for the event at its Concourse offices, and will remove graffiti prior to the 17th.

The Tour de Bronx features two routes, a 25-mile course for every age and skill level that is more leisurely, and a 40-mile ride for experienced riders. The routes overlap most of the way, including jaunts through Morris Heights, Melrose, Soundview and Throgs Neck, but the longer one includes Wakefield, Woodlawn Cemetery and Norwood. Both routes finish up in Poe Park for the celebration. Riders can start off at 10 a.m. at the Metro North station across from the New York Botanical Garden or at 10:45 a.m. in front of the Bronx County Courthouse at East 161st Street and the Grand Concourse.

This year's ride features new bike paths leading from Pelham Bay to Orchard Beach and City Island. Gans said another one is in the works for Soundview.

The Tour de Bronx is hosted and sponsored by a number of Bronx businesses and organizations including the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, the Bronx Council for Economic Development, the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality, Bronx News 12, ABC Carpet and Home, and the Montefiore Heart Center.

Participating bicyclists must register for the Tour de Bronx in advance. To receive a registration form or for more information, call 590-BRONX or 653-2203.  

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