The best cycling spots around Manhattan and beyond
To most New Yorkers, Manhattan-based cyclists seemed to be faced with their own unique set of obstacles: screeching cabs, distracted pedestrians, drivers unexpectedly opening their car doors in the bike lane during rush hour. The island, however, is also home to some of the best cycling routes in the city, which offer some much needed respite for city-dwellers on two wheels.
Hudson River Greenway
The gently sloping Hudson River Greenway is more than just the largest green space in the city, it’s also one of the busiest, attracting over 7,000 cyclists a day, according to the DOT. You might wonder what all the fuss is about until you realize that the Greenway, which is the longest in the city and extends from Battery Park to Inwood, is one of the quickest ways to get around Manhattan. While the gentle slopes make it a cinch to ride, the Greenway’s calling card is its proximity to the water and notable sights, making this a must for any city cyclist.
Harlem River Speedway
Calling this a speedway seems like some sort of cruel joke. This riverside getaway connects the Hudson River and East River Greenways via two access points—at Dyckman Street and 10th Avenue and Edgecomb Avenue and 155th Street. The leisurely two-mile ride, built upon an old riverside walkway and carriage path, is one of the few Class 1 paths in the city, allowing riders a chance to relax and not worry about getting hit by an errant cab door. Swindler’s Park, located by the western access, provides an excellent location to while away those summertime afternoons. While the Speedway provides a great, if momentary escape, from city life, the lack of access points makes this one of the more difficult paths to get to.
Spanning over 50 city blocks, cycling is the best way to see much of Central Park in an afternoon. Park Drive, the main road, which stretches a winding six miles through the park, is about to get even friendlier to bikers, runners and skaters, as cross-park paths at 72nd and 96th streets gain an additional bike lane. Terrace Drive is also reportedly set to lose one of its car lanes in favor of a second bike lane. Tours and bike rentals of the park are available year-round. Rentals for the day, which include helmets, locks and maps, start at about $15, making Central Park a no-brainer bargain.
East River Greenway
Comprising the eastern half of the Waterfront Greenway, this bike path runs from the Battery up to East Harlem, where it connects with the Speedway. While the cycling lane provides fantastic views of Brooklyn and Queens skylines, cyclists are warned that this path is interrupted between 37th and 63rd streets. The detour, which goes through city traffic, allows riders to bypass the United Nations.
This is the hidden treasure trove of New York biking. While tantalizingly close to Manhattan, it is another world that offers unprecedented views of the city. Governors Island is accessible by a free, five-minute ferry ride from the Marine Battery Building, next to the Staten Island Ferry. The hidden retreat is seemingly made for biking, with five miles of car-free paths and plenty of parks and sequestered buildings. What makes Governors Island so ideal is that cyclists can either bring their bikes or rent them there from Bike and Roll. And, unlike with the new Bike Share program, you can finally ride that tandem bike you always dreamed of.
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