Bike paths and bike lanes for traffic-free cycle rides in New York

New York traffic can discourage the casual cyclist from going for a ride in NYC, but try these five protected bike paths and bike lanes in parks for a car-free route.

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  • Photograph: Jonathan Aprea

    Hudson River

  • NYCDPR, Photograph: Daniel Avila

    Hellgate Pathway, Randall's Island

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Coney Island boardwalk

  • Photograph: Jessica Lin

    The bike path along Midland Beach

Photograph: Jonathan Aprea

Hudson River

Hudson River

Hudson River

The west side of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway is a well-maintained, protected two-way path. Starting from the north, you’ll see a faux Grecian temple in Fort Tryon Park and the Little Red Lighthouse, which inspired Hildegard H. Swift’s 1942 children’s book. If you need a rest stop, halt at Pier I Café at 70th Street (212-362-4450, piericafe.com; daily 11:30am–11:30pm) for a tart blueberry lemonade ($3), then continue south to pass the Intrepid museum at 46th Street. Peep the south side of the ship to see a replica of the Gemini space capsule suspended by a crane. Dyckman St to Battery Park City (nyc.gov)

Hellgate Pathway, Randall's Island

Randalls Island

The traffic noise on the Triborough Bridge is as disruptive as vehicles get during a ride on this isle. The 4.5 miles of waterfront pathways, shared with pedestrians and runners, take you through nature reserves and gardens, past the art of FLOW.12, over a wooden bridge that traverses a salt marsh, and under the archways of the Hell Gate Bridge. To get there, pedal across the recently reopened Wards Island Bridge at East River Drive and 103rd Street. (nycgovparks.org)

Coney Island Boardwalk

Finding peace and quiet on this Brooklyn seafront? Surely not! But that’s what early-bird bikers enjoy when they stick to the designated cycling hours of 6–10am; we recommend a serene ride right at the beginning. Getting there is also easy and safe: The protected Ocean Parkway bike lane (Ocean Parkway from Prospect Park Southwest to Sea Breeze Ave) separates riders from vehicles and pedestrians. Pick it up from the southern tip of Prospect Park. Boardwalk between Corbin Pl and W 37th St, Coney Island, Brooklyn (nycgovparks.org)

The bike path along Midland Beach

Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk

Park your bike in the racks on the bottom deck of the Staten Island Ferry (siferry.com) en route to this spacious beach with golden sand. To avoid riding on roads from the terminal, hop on the MTA’s Staten Island Railway from St. George to Old Town and walk east to the waterfront via Ocean Breeze Park. The boardwalk runs from South Beach in the north down to Midland Beach and passes a sea turtle sculpture with a spray fountain in case you need to cool off. A new path slated for completion in August, the Great Kills Bikeway, will extend the car-free route from the end of the boardwalk at Miller Field past New Dorp Beach to Cedar Grove, a former private beach colony that reopened to the public last year. While you’re there, seek out Padilla-Harris’s recently debuted public art installation MistWave (through Sept 2, 2012), a set of five cool-vapor–emitting blue pipes curled into a wave shape. Boardwalk between Fort Wadsworth and Miller Field, Staten Island (nycgovparks.org)


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