This Sunday the 37th annual TD Five Boro Bike Tour kicks off at 5am with 32,000 cyclists traveling on rare car-free streets. One of the best ways to see the city, the route travels the length of Manhattan, steps into the Bronx, runs back into Manhattan, crosses the Queensboro Bridge, leads down to Brooklyn, and finally crosses the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to Staten Island. This 40 mile stretch is a surefire way to get toned for the upcoming bikini season, and “entertainment cheer zones” and water stations will help the riders stay motivated and hydrated. Unfortunately, registration for this year’s tour is already full, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy all the city has to offer to fulfill your cycling desires!
One of the most convenient ways is with Citi Bike. With over 4,300 bicycles at 330 stations, finding your two wheels is a breeze. And it is clear that biking in Manhattan is here to stay. Citi Bike has been sued multiple times by businesses like the Plaza Hotel for aesthetic reasons, but judges have rejected all requests. No better time than the present to jump on the biking bandwagon! Citi Bike is best used for short trips under 30 minutes, but because of the many available stations it is not hard to jump from one bike to another to avoid paying for overtime. Consider hopping on a bike to run errands or taking a ride along the West Side and grabbing the subway back. Even going for a quick loop through Central Park is a fantastic way to get some fresh air in your lungs and leave you feeling refreshed and energized. The 6.1 mile loop is practically tailor made for a 30 minute time frame.
For those looking for a longer route, the city has many great, scenic options. Sites like Groupon constantly feature bike rental deals, with many as low as $10 for two hours. This makes for a perfect, inexpensive way to soak up the spring sun and explore a new way of getting around. A great route is from Manhattan to Dumbo via the Brooklyn Bridge- a unique way to cross the river for a weekend festivity like brunch! Once in Brooklyn, you can hang out at the beautiful Brooklyn Bridge Park and ride the carousel and then travel up to the Pulaski Bridge to cross into Queens. Once there, the Queensboro Bridge is only a few pedals away from Manhattan.
Another beautiful route is on the West Side along the Hudson River Greenway. This 11-mile stretch from Battery Park to the George Washington Bridge has a separate pedestrian section, so carving your own path is not a concern. With beautiful views of the water, New Jersey, and a practically completely flat path, this is the perfect route for devoting an afternoon. There are many scenic stops along the way, whether it is the Statue of Liberty or Riverside Park. If you make it all the way to the red lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge, the famous Dinosaur Bar-B-Que on 125th Street is the perfect place for some refueling.
For those looking to plan ahead for summer weekends, there are two great biking activities to add to your list. The first is Summer Streets, the Department of Transportation’s bike friendly event held on the 3 consecutive Saturdays of August 3, 10, and 17. From 7am to 1pm, Park Avenue (and its connecting streets) all the way from Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park is closed to car traffic. A great route to travel on bike, many markets and stands will pop up along the way and lend to a fabulous social event that is not to be missed.
A second, equally fabulous summer biking excursion is Governor’s Island, one of the best car-free, weekend spots to bike in the city. With fabulous views of Lower Manhattan, New York Harbor, and the Statue of Liberty, escaping to the island can feel like a whole different world. The free Governor’s Island Ferry accommodates bikes, and you can also rent bikes on the island. As an added bonus, rentals are free for one hour on holiday Mondays. Who needs a better excuse than that to play a little hooky?
Overall, there are many fabulous ways to travel in style on bikes in the city. With Citi Bike and countless other independent bike shops, finding a ride is the easiest part. Choosing a route is another matter, but you really can’t go wrong with two wheels beneath you. Biking is a great way to remember that sometimes, the best part of getting from A to B is the journey itself. Let these be your words to live by!