Explore these five premium bike paths and enjoy a leisurely cycle without having to dodge traffic. Plus, discover bike-rental shops close to each route that accommodate veteran pedalers and novices alike.
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Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway
This path, which winds from Greenpoint to Red Hook, has five miles of mostly auto-lacking lanes. (The ongoing project will eventually measure 14 miles, stretching down to Bay Ridge—visit brooklyngreenway.org/map to see the up-to-date route.) During your ride, you’ll pass through both historic districts and new developments—with an amazing view of the Manhattan skyline over your shoulder. Just off the Greenway lies Rolling Orange Bikes (269 Baltic St between Court and Smith Sts, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn; 718-935-0695, rollingorangebikes.com), a destination for imported Dutch two-wheelers. The three-year-old spot specializes in steel Batavus bikes—a kind ridden by Netherlands royalty—that you can borrow for 24 hours ($35), two days ($60), a weekend ($65) or a week ($175).
While pedestrian paths are off-limits for cyclists, New York’s backyard boasts a six-mile loop near its perimeter that’s carless every day (Fri 7pm–Mon 7am; Mon–Fri 10am–3pm, 7pm–7am) and, as of this year, features wider lanes. As you’re heading uptown, keep your eyes peeled for the recently replanted Rhododendron Mile (East Dr between 85th and 96th Sts). Three blocks west of the park you’ll discover Toga Bike Shop (110 West End Ave at 64th St; 212-799-9625, togabikes.com), a neighborhood institution since 1969 that rents hybrids ($35) and road bikes ($75–$150) for the day, helmets included.
Come May 25, board a ferry from Brooklyn or lower Manhattan (Sat, Sun and holiday Mon 10am–7pm; free; through Sept 29) to this historic isle and enjoy more than five miles of cycling. Take a break midday with a stop at Picnic Point on the southwest end, which offers amazing views of Lady Liberty, and stroll along the shady greenery of Colonels Row. Thanks to Bike and Roll (near Colonels Row, follow the blue signs from the ferry; 212-260-0400, bikeandroll.com/newyork), you can hop over to the island sans bike. Kids can pedal all day for $20, adults for $25 and your whole crew (on an eight-person quadcycle) for $45.
Manhattan Waterfront Greenway
And then there’s the 32-mile granddaddy of greenways, tracing Manhattan’s coast. We prefer the western edge, given that path’s epic Hudson angles and comparatively brief detour through actual city streets. It’s tough to top flying through Hudson River Park, Riverside Park and Battery Park—all while sneering at the suckers stuck in West Side Highway traffic. Start your journey uptown at Master Bike New York (265 W 72nd St between Broadway and West End Ave; 212-580-2355, masterbikeshop.com), which is equipped with a massive stock of hybrids ($30 per day) and road bikes ($75 per day).
Cruise along a 3.5-mile loop of smooth road—past lakes populated by geese and swans, past family BBQs—and through settings so serene you might forget you’re in NYC’s densest outer borough. A few blocks northwest of the green space sits Ride Brooklyn’s Park Slope location (468 Bergen St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 718-599-1340, ridebrooklynny.com). Opened in 2009, the family-owned shop’s road bikes and three-speeds cost $25 for four hours, $30 for a business day or $40 for a full 24 hours.
Additional reporting by Katie Hay.