New Yorkers had their wishes granted this past Memorial Day with the arrival of Citibike stations throughout Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn.
The long-awaited bike share program installed sturdy, easy-to-use bikes on corners throughout the city, opening up the possibility for fast and reliable transportation. While many New Yorkers use the bikes for commuting, they can also be a great way for visitors to see the city.
Here are five fun routes for seeing some of the city’s most iconic views from two wheels.
1. Central Park Loop
Pick-up: Southeast corner of Central Park on Central Park South
Drop-off: Southern flank of Central Park, Center Drive at Central Park South
One of the most classic bike rides in New York City is the loop through Central Park. Pick-up your bike on the southeast corner of the park and cycle past the pond along East Drive. All of the traffic (bikes and runners) moves in one direction, north along the east side, and south along the west side. Cycling north, you’ll pass the Loeb Boathouse, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, and Harlem Meer at the northern edge of the park. As the road curves back south, you’ll pick up speed cruising down a series of curving hills, passing meadows and ponds along West Drive. Return your bike without leaving the park at the southern edge of the park, where Center Drive meets Central Park South. Details: 6.5 miles; estimated 48 minutes; $14
2. Hudson River
Pick-up: Battery Park (along State Street between Pearl Street and Whitehall Street)
Drop-off: W. 18th Street at the West Side Highway or W. 46th Street at 11th Ave.
If you prefer to avoid the perils of traffic in the streets of New York City, stick to the edges where long stretches of bike paths await. Start at the southern tip of Manhattan in Battery Park. After warming up your legs there, stick to the river’s edge on the west side and cycle through some of New York’s lesser known green spaces, including South Cove Park and Hudson River Park. You can stop to see attractions such as the Irish Hunger Memorial as you cycle north along the Hudson, past the piers in Tribeca and the West Village. Depending on your energy, return the bike on W. 18th Street across the West Side Highway or continue north through Chelsea and Midtown to return your bike on West 46th Street at 11th Ave. Details: To 18th Street: 3.4 miles; estimated 20 minutes; $10; To 46th Street: 5.0 miles; estimated 30 minutes; $10
3. The Brooklyn Bridge
Pick-up: Northeast corner of City Hall Park
Drop-off: Old Fulton Street
Another iconic cycling route in New York is across the Brooklyn Bridge. Pick a weekday (and preferably not at peak commuting times to avoid congestion) and get your bike at City Hall Park where the path to cross the Brooklyn Bridge begins. Make like a New Yorker and use the bell to alert pedestrians to stay on their side of the promenade while cycling across the bridge. Be sure to pause at the middle to soak up the views of Manhattan. Once in Brooklyn, take the time to explore the streets of DUMBO looking up at the bridges and explore Brooklyn Bridge Park with its views of lower Manhattan before returning the bike on Old Fulton Street, near the excellent Grimaldi’s pizza. Details: 2.3 miles (directly to Old Fulton Street); estimated 20 minutes; $10
4. Prospect Park
Pick-up: 4th Ave at Dean Street
Drop-off: Atlantic Ave at Fort Greene Place
The ambitious cyclist with some time on their hands can utilize Citibike to explore Prospect Park. While the bikes don’t yet extend as far into Brooklyn as Prospect Park, you can pick up one as close to the park as possible and amble through scenic neighborhoods on the way. Grab your bike on 4th Ave at Dean Street and either wander through Park Slope or head south on Flatbush until you reach the edge of Prospect Park. This green space has a similar one-way loop like Central Park: Join on West Drive and enjoy the fresh air along the route looping back on East Drive. Return your bike along Atlantic Ave at Fort Greene Place. Details: 6.1 miles; estimated 50 minutes; $14
5. Neighborhood Exploration from West to East
Pick-up: Bank Street between Greenwich and Hudson
Drop-off: Tompkins Square Park, along East 10th Street
Get an understanding of neighborhood layouts in Manhattan by cycling between them. Start in the West Village on Bank Street, taking in the neighborhood’s leafy lanes and beautiful brownstones. Pass into Greenwich Village and along Washington Square South before continuing into NoHo. You could return your bike here and enjoy the restaurants and cocktail bars, or continue east crossing the Bowery into the East Village. Explore the East Village before returning your bike at the northern edge of Tompkins Square Park on East 10th Street. Details: 2.4 miles; estimated 25 minutes; $10
Getting Your Bike: When at the bike kiosk, you can purchase a 24-hour ($10) or seven-day ($25) access pass which gives you unlimited rides for 30 minutes (you can switch bikes to avoid the extra costs of riding the same bike) – add $4 for 30–60 min and $13 for an extra 60–90 minutes (the price then goes up $12 every additional 30 minutes).