When you think of NYC, what do you think of? Broadway? Traffic? Food carts? Crime? We all have our own opinion of the “City That Never Sleeps”, but one thing that you can take advantage of that is not often thought of is the awesome cycling spots in and around the city. Yup – there are a ton of great cycling spots in NYC – and they are listed below.
Untermeyer Gardens & Conservatory – Yonkers
Travel up Riverside Park, through northern Manhattan and the Bronx to New York State’s fourth biggest city: Yonkers. While there is plenty to do here, your best bet on a bike is to avoid the complicated highway and road system by hopping on the scenic Old Croton Aqueduct Trail in the Bronx’s Van Cortlandt Park, then following it up to the back entrance of the Untermyer Gardens & Conservatory. The stone columns, detailed Grecian mosaics, reflective pools and manicured flora of the Indo-Persian-inspired Walled Garden portion of the grounds are so idyllic you’ll forget you’re only a few miles from the Bronx. (untermyergardens.org)
Carroll Gardens – Coney Island – Brooklyn
Ocean Parkway was home to the United States’ first bike path, way back in the pre-Steve Cuozzo year of 1894. Some of the Parkway was killed in the 1970s to make room for the Prospect Expressway, but you can still ride the mostly tree-lined path, which is separated from the pedestrian path, from Prospect Park to Coney Island. Head over to the park from Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens for a quiet brownstone tour, then hit Ocean Parkway and keep on going until you hit Boardwalk mainstay Ruby’s Bar & Grill for a beer. Just watch out while riding through Midwood and Borough Park; you might find pedestrians walking three or four abreast through the bike path, so exercise caution.
Governors Island – NYC
In addition to boasting dozens of arts and culture events in the spring and summer, Governors Island is one of the best car-free places to bike in the area. Though the bike loop doesn’t go around the whole island (at least not yet), it’ll still take you through tree-lined trails, past grandiose mansions and old army barracks and by dazzling views of Lower Manhattan and the NY Harbor. Both the East River Ferry and free Governors Island ferries accommodate bikes, but you can also rent single and tandem bikes from kiosks on the island, plus they offer free one-hour rentals on holiday Mondays.
Bronx River Path – Bronx
For a more natural, woodsy ride, this paved pathway runs adjacent to the Bronx River Parkway, from the city’s northern limits up through Westchester. If you’re not coming from the Bronx and want to save yourself a wicked ride to the trail’s start, you can take Metro-North up to Mount Vernon West; purchase a $5 bike pass at Grand Central to bring your wheels along. The path kicks off on Oak Street in Mount Vernon, where you can ride through lush scenery, under bridges and along the riverbank. It runs in three segments: a one-mile loop near Oak Street in Mount Vernon; a 3.6-mile section from Bronxville to Scarsdale and a 5-mile section from Hartsdale to Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla, and intermittent Metro-North stations line the pathway in case you need to make a quick exit out of suburbia.
Rockaways Ride – Queens
The beaches at Fort Tilden have finally reopened, as well as parts of Rockaway beach. The best way is to bike on the bike on the B/Q line to the Sheepshead Bay / East 16 Street station (at Avenue Z). From there, it’s about a 7 mile bike ride, first through relatively quiet residential streets, then on a bike path along the beaches, and finally over the Marine Parkway Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge; head left once you’re off the bridge to head to Jacob Riis. If you want to press further and get some tacos, it’s another couple of miles to Rockaway Beach from there.