Biking in New York can often seem like a daunting task, particularly in Manhattan. The roads are treacherous, the traffic you have to weave in and out of is insane, and the drivers are…well, not always kind or in possession of civilized language, to say the least.
But hey, just because something’s scary doesn’t mean you shy away from it! We’ve put together a list of go-to summer bike routes that will leave your arms tan, your legs strong, and your heart proud that you’ve managed to survive a New York bike ride.
We’ve all been there, or we’re all at least familiar, but what you might not know about Central Park is that it’s a sort of haven for both the casual biker and serious cycler alike. The park lets vehicles from only 10 AM to 3 PM on weekdays, so the mornings are reserved for pedestrians, or those pedaling around on two-wheelers.
Cycling is confined to both the east and west drives of the park, plus a couple of long, interspersed driveways, but that still includes a nice amount of designated biking asphalt. You’ll be in good company, as there’s always a bounty of bikers cruising through and checking out the sights, from the devoted biker in compression gear and cycling shades, to the family out for their weekly group bike ride.
Hudson River Bikeway
The westernmost portion of the Manhattan Greenfront Waterway plays host to a beautiful, well-manicured two-way path separated by a double yellow line like the lanes of a legitimate road, and reserved exclusively for bikers.
This is one of the most enjoyable cruises in the city, as you won’t have to worry about any blips in the pavement, and you can bike from Dyckman Street to Battery Park City, taking in everything from a faux Grecian Temple (Fort Tryon Park) to The Little Red Lighthouse.
Coney Island Boardwalk
We know, you probably just read that and went, "Um, I don’t think so." But truth be told, if you’re willing to get up early, a cruise down the classic wooden planks of the Coney Island Boardwalk is one of the most enjoyable jaunts you can make in New York, not to mention, if you have any memory of going to boardwalks as a child, extremely nostalgia-inducing.
Fortunately, if you go ahead and have that early cup of coffee and then get out to Coney Island, you’ll see they have designated biking hours from 6 AM to 10 AM. Even the ride there is enjoyable and worry free: you can cruise down in the Ocean Parkway bike line, at the southernmost tip of Prospect Park.
Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk
Did you know that the 32nd president of our country, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was an avid bike rider? Well, that may not be true actually, but what is true is that this boardwalk, of which he is the namesake, is one of the best spots to go for a spin in this fair city.
You’ll have to first take the Staten Island Ferry over to the boardwalk, but it’s well worth the passage, and anyway, that journey across the water is an enjoyable one too—you’ll be able to pump your lungs full of fresh sea air before putting your legs to work. Once you’re there, enjoy a well-maintained bike path, modern sea-related sculptures, and picturesque waterfront views.
Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway
This stretch of greenway was originally conceived of 15 years ago, when three volunteers decided that they’d like to construct a car-free route from Greenpoint to Sunset Park. Today, the area boasts several top-notch bike paths, incredible views of Manhattan across the water, and seven miles of natural greenway terrain.
If you head here on a weekend, you have full permission to let yourself get distracted grabbing delicious grub at Williamsburg’s Smorgasburg food festival. Otherwise, keep your head on a swivel (within reason) as you take get a truly multifaceted taste of the sights in Brooklyn.
The subway’s cool and all, but nobody wants to be stuck beneath the earth in a warm, clammy subway tunnel when they could be out in the brilliant New York sunshine, cruising on two wheels. Summer is officially the season of the bike.
Get your Citi Bike, single-speed, or hybrid cruiser, hop in the saddle, and start pedaling away to your next destination, be it one of business or pleasure. As the old cliche goes, it’s about the journey, not the destination. That journey’s infinitely better on a bike.