Cycling is a divisive topic in New York. The cyclists hate the motorists for driving in their bike lanes and often running them off the road, but the pedestrians hate the bikers for much the same reasons. Still, cycling is a great way to see the city—on two wheels you can cover more distance than by walking, without going underground or boarding a bus. The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, a 32-mile route that circumnavigates the island of Manhattan, is a fantastic asset: You can now ride, uninterrupted, along the Hudson River from Battery Park up to the George Washington Bridge, at 178th Street. The free NYC Cycling Map, covering cycle lanes in all five boroughs, is available from the Department of City Planning Bookstore (22 Reade Street, between Broadway & Elk Street, Civic Center, 212-720-3667), or you can download it from nyc.gov/planning. You can also get free maps at Transportation Alternatives (212-629-8080, transalt.org), a non-profit group that lobbies for more bike-friendly streets, or download them from its website.
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Organized bike rides are available from a number of outfits. The "queer and queer-friendly" group Fast & Fabulous (212-567-7160, fastnfab.org) leads tours that usually meet in Central Park and head out of the city. Five Borough Bicycle Club (5bbc.org) offers a full slate of leisurely rides around the city, as well as jaunts that head further afield. Best of all, most trips are free. Time’s Up! (212-802-8222, times-up.org), an alternative-transportation advocacy group, organizes many of the city’s most innovative cycling events, including the monthly Critical Mass and other group rides.
Cycle hire is available from the following:
Bike & Roll Pier 84, 557 Twelfth Ave at 43rd St (212-260-0400, bikeandroll.com/newyork). Subway: A, C, E to 42nd St–Port Authority. Mid Mar-mid May, Sept-mid Nov daily 9am-6pm (weather permitting). Mid May-Aug 8am-8pm daily (weather permitting). $12-$20/hr; $39-$69/day. Rent at one branch and drop off at another for an extra $5. Other locations throughout the city
Gotham Bike Shop 112 W Broadway, between Duane and Reade Sts (212-732-2453, gothambikes.com). Subway: A, C, 1, 2, 3 to Chambers St. Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat 10am–6:30pm; 10am–7:30pm Thu; 10:30am–5pm Sun. $35/24hrs.
Loeb Boathouse Central Park entrance on Fifth Ave at 72nd St (212-517- 2233, centralparknyc.org). Subway: 6 to 68th St–Hunter College. Daily 10am–6pm (weather permitting). $6-$15/hr; $45$50/day.
Metro Bicycles 1311 Lexington Ave at 88th St (212-427-4450, metrobicycles.com). Subway: 4, 5, 6 to 86th St. Daily 10am–6pm daily (call to check). $9/hr; $45/day. Other locations throughout the city.