The Manhattan Commute . . . on a Bike!

I admit it. I was a chicken. The guys in the warehouse tuned up my bike over the summer while my kids were at camp. When my bike was ready, it was the perfect opportunity to start riding to work, but I took the less-than-courageous route. From the Upper West Side I rode to the bike path on the Hudson River Greenway, then rode down to 34th St. and then up to the office at 36th between 7th and Broadway. What would have been a 50+-block ride on Manhattan’s streets became a breeze along the river with just a few blocks of streets to get to and from it.
Then the kids came home from camp and school started. While my older daughter takes the bus to middle school, my younger one needs to be taken to her school situated a bit more than a mile from our home. She wanted to scooter; I wanted to ride. We had to figure out how to do this.
Thanks to the good works of the current NYC administration, there is a nearby bike lane that dumps us into Central Park. My little one scooters on the sidewalk as I slowly bike next to her on the bike lane. Once we’re in the park, we travel together on the runners/bike lane down to the lake and up the hill. One small path through the edge of the park and school is right across the street. I drop her on the steps and then I’m back on my bicycle and off to work.
At that point, riding all the way over to the river would be silly, time-consuming and extremely inefficient, so I take the bike lane on Broadway. At 8:30 in the morning the pedestrians are reasonably awake and aware and Times Square’s quotient of tourists is few. It’s easy enough to weave among them, use a loud voice to remind several that they’re blocking/crossing/walking-in-the-middle-of a bike lane, and get to the office in just a few minutes.
Let me confess that I hate the subway during rush hour. I’ll do anything to avoid it. When I don’t ride, I walk all the way to work from home (more than three miles) just to miss the crush of commuters. I can’t stand that descent into stinky hell. (Who exactly is peeing in the subway?) So the morning ride is a wonderful start to my work day.
It was much harder for me to get used to the ride home. I tried using the Greenway bike path for a while, but it felt very out-of-the-way at the end of a workday and was over-populated by Spandex-clad speedsters who got out of work much earlier than I and were intent on getting their workout in regardless of who else was on the bike path.
I view 8th Ave. as the price I have to pay to get to the bike lane on Central Park West. I work at a bike company, so everyone rides in this office and everyone has an opinion about 8th Ave. around the Port Authority: they all abhor it. It is a little spooky and I did find that the adrenaline rush from the fear I felt riding those blocks up to Columbus Circle the first few times was enough to keep me up for hours past my bedtime.
But if I ride slowly and don’t let the pedestrians using the bike lane as an extra sidewalk and forcing me into lanes of traffic get to me, it’s not bad. And once I get to Central Park West, it’s a breeze . . . the trucks up there are mostly for movies, the pedestrians seem to be more aware, and the car doors don’t open as much. Of course this is my perception and could just be because I’m close to home, I’m about to see my kids, and I’m next to Central Park.
It was cold this morning as I rode and I didn’t have a jacket, much less gloves. By the time I got to the office I realized that my biking days for the season were numbered (snow, salt, and sand are not in my cycling vocabulary). And even now as I look at the darkening sky, I just want the rain to hold off long enough so that I can ride home. Who knew I’d ever look forward to biking on the streets of New York?

Recycle Your Electronic Waste and Go Cycling as a Reward

 

Old computers cluttering your closets? Did you upgrade to a flat-screen a while ago and now you’re tired of using the old TV as extra counter-space? As a responsible recycler, you can’t just throw these old electronics in the trash. Come to Brooklyn Bridge Park this Sunday, October 2, rain or shine, 10am – 4pm. The Lower East Side Ecology Center will be at Pier 1 accepting every type of household electronics.

To reward you for your green conscience, Bike and Roll is happy to offer you a 50% discount on a bike rental on Sunday. Have you checked out the bike path that goes all the way down to Sunset Park? It’s a beautiful ride along the river and harbor with magnificent views of Governors Island, the Statue of Liberty, and downtown Manhattan.

Can’t ride on Sunday? You’ll get a $5-off coupon for any future rental or tour.

Get more information about Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Electronic Waste Recycling Day

Bike and Roll NYC Teams Up with NYC Century Bike Tour

 

Bike and Roll NYC Teams Up With NYC Century Bike Tour
to Provide Bikes and Support to Participants – Just Show Up on Sept. 18th, Your Bike is Waiting for You!

DETAILS: Anyone planning on participating in the NYC Century on Sept. 18th has a convenient option – rent a bike from Bike and Roll NYC and a bike will be waiting for you at either of the five route’s two starting points. Whether you’re planning to ride the 15-, 35-, 55-, 75-, or 100-mile route through the streets of New York City, Bike and Roll NYC’s support is behind you.

In addition to the convenience of not having to get a bike to either Start (in Central Park or Prospect Park), every renter gets a bike fit to their height, a helmet, and mechanical support.

“The NYC Century supports Transportation Alternatives, which supports bike lanes in New York City,” said Chris Wogas, President of Bike and Roll NYC. “This is one of the best ways I know to show everyone that biking around New York City is a great activity. This tour has something for everyone – from families to the most hard-core cyclist. We’re proud to be a part of it.”

More than 5,000 cyclists expected to participate in the event, many from outside the city. Knowing that a well-tuned bike will be waiting for you at the start means travelers have one less thing to worry about. Bikes are simply returned to Bike and Roll NYC at the Start when riders are finished with the tour.

Bike and Roll NYC has built its reputation on the quality of its bikes and the dedication of its mechanics – renting from them for this event means peace of mind.

Several different bikes are available for the day:

Comfort Bike: $69; Performance Bike: $79; Road Bike: $89 (Transportation Alternatives members get $5 off)

Go to bikenewyorkcity.com or call 212-260-0400 for details on bikes and additional info on equipment for kids.

On Two Wheels with Water as a Companion

 

(by Jane Margolies, New York Times)

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WHEN I told my local bicycle mechanic that I was thinking about circling the city by following the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, he shrugged off my reservations about the unfinished route, which I’d heard was still dicey in parts.

“It’s Manhattan,” he said. “It’s an island. What are you going to do, get lost?”
Yet there I was on a recent Sunday morning, turning right at East 63rd Street, only to find that I’d started down the car ramp onto the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive.
Though the Greenway does encompass some city streets, mostly it snakes for more than 28 miles along rivers, under bridges and through parks. My companion for the ride was the recently released 2011 NYC Cycling Map (available atbike shops or by calling the city’s 311 information line), depicting the Greenway mostly as an enticing thick green line along much of the coast, with dotted lines indicating sections to come. (Full disclosure: I recently worked as a freelance editor on the city’s new plan for waterfront development; the Greenway was mapped out years earlier.)
Cycling the route is on the whole satisfying and at times exhilarating — a boon for bikers like me who get bored going round and round Central Park. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t bumps in the road.

WEST SIDE From the West 103rd Street entrance to Riverside Park, it was a quick trip down a hill and under an overpass to reach the Hudson River. There, signs for the NYC Greenway — racetrack-shaped and green, with a five-leafed ivy motif — greeted me.

The Department of City Planning included a route around Manhattan in its 1993 master plan for 350 miles of recreation and commuting paths in all five boroughs. In 2002 Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg pledged to have the Manhattan loop built, and the city began stitching together existing pedestrian walkways, esplanades and city streets into a single route — in some areas paving connections and in others simply planting signs pointing the way.

Hanging a left so that I’d be circling Manhattan counterclockwise, I quickly reached a new segment. Cantilevered over the water, the path between West 90th and West 83rd Streets has a jaunty boardwalk feel. Before it was built, cyclists had to veer inland up a steep hill and reconnect near 79th Street. Now the path continues uninterrupted for more than 10 glorious miles close to the river, from the George Washington Bridge to the Battery.

Although I’d timed my departure to avoid the crowds later in the day, already cyclists — along with joggers, in-line skaters and stroller pushers — were out in force. At a cafe around West 70th Street, servers were opening table umbrellas for the day.

Here in Riverside Park South, the bike lane runs under the elevated West Side Highway. Still, cyclists have a good view of the rusted remains of the 69th Street Transfer Bridge, one of the relics from the city’s industrial past that you can see as you pedal. Out on the water a blue-and-white tugboat pushed a barge.

But keep your eyes on the path: Travelers streaming off a cruise ship rolled suitcases across the route at West 48th Street. Ten blocks later, a parked white bike, with back baskets overflowing with dried flowers, was a sobering memorial to a cyclist who was killed by a truck there in 2006.

Approaching Battery Park City after being separated from the water by basketball and tennis courts, I made a few turns near Stuyvesant High School and continued south, again right along the water. Hello, Statue of Liberty!

EAST SIDE When you get to Battery Park, the trick is figuring out which way the Greenway goes — now you see the signs for it, now you don’t. But once I was on the path bordering the East River, there were fewer cyclists than on the West Side, and no wonder. Although it’s thrilling to pass under the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges, the Greenway here is a disjointed affair.

At East 35th Street the path heads inland, skirting the United Nations on busy First Avenue. Several blocks later I got caught up in the flow of traffic and found myself on that F. D. R. Drive ramp. My mistake was not spotting the pedestrian bridge over the highway, leading back to the Greenway.

The map says it’s a clear shot to the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, at 125th Street. But repairs on the path in the East 70s meant that I had to tack back and forth across the F. D. R. Drive on pedestrian bridges. And for now the Greenway turns at 120th Street, so once again it is back onto city thoroughfares.

HARLEM AND THE HARLEM RIVER The Greenway continues west in Harlem — some blocks are lined with lovely old brownstones — then north on St. Nicholas Avenue. I crossed West 125th Street as noon church bells rang.

There’s no waterfront along this part of the Waterfront Greenway, but there’s plenty of greenery along St. Nicholas Park. Still, when I finally reached the Harlem River, after riding along Edgecombe Avenue and crossing over Harlem River Drive, it felt good to be back by the water again.

The view along this least-traveled part of the path isn’t fetching: high-rises and highway on the Bronx side. But fishermen with propped-up rods give this area a homey feel, while rowing crews gliding by add a sporty vibe. And because there’s practically no one else around, you can finally cut loose.

In fact, this area was called the Harlem River Speedway at the beginning of the 20th century, a straightaway for horse and carriage racing. Today cherry and crabapple trees beautify the West 180s. The yellow and green Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse occupies a pier at the tiny Swindler Cove Park (at Dyckman Street and 10th Avenue, in Inwood), with its winding paths and tidy rows of potatoes, lettuce and fava beans tended by students at the school next door.

DYCKMAN STREET CONNECTION This nerve-racking stretch of storefronts and double-parked cars connects the Greenway on the East Side with the trail along the Hudson. Eudes Espino, co-manager of Tread Bike Shop on Dyckman Street, said that at least once a day a cyclist wandered in to ask how to get back onto the Greenway. By the end of the year, work will have begun on a ramp to the Hudson River part of the path, according to the Parks Department. For now, head up Riverside Drive, then lug your bike up stairs to reach the path along the Henry Hudson Parkway.

GEORGE WASHINGTON BRIDGE AREA To your right, the Hudson River is a silvery ribbon far below, glinting through the trees. At Inspiration Point, a 1925 overlook modeled on a Greek temple, cyclists stop and gaze at the George Washington Bridge. Soon you’re swooping down to the foot of the bridge, with the Little Red Lighthouse tucked at its feet. From here to Riverbank State Park, the Greenway runs through what feels like a big block party on weekends. Volleyball nets are unfurled. Barbecues sizzle. The scene is more pastoral along Cherry Walk, from West 125th to West 100th streets, where the path weaves between trees that were beautifully in bloom for me.

Nearing West 100th Street, a cyclist in front of me swerved to avoid broken glass. I did too. But several yards later, at the exact spot where I’d started my journey four and a half hours earlier, Dr. Edward Fishkin sat on a patch of grass next to his red Cannondale bike, expertly fixing a flat.

The medical director of Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center and a cyclist for 25 years, Dr. Fishkin bikes up to 250 miles a week, and the occasional flat just comes with the territory. He rarely experiences flats on the Greenway, however, Dr. Fishkin said, adding, “Compared to what riding was like in the city 20 years ago, this is phenomenal.”

New Highbridge Park – Easy Access to Hudson River Park Greenway, Harlem Greenway, and the Only Mountain Biking in Manhattan!

Everyone is aware of NYC’s efforts to promote bicycling in the city – lots more bike lanes, expanded Greenways, less traffic in the parks, even mountain biking trails in Inwood.

Bike and Roll NYC’s newest location at Highbridge Park on Dykman St. is the perfect place to take advantage of all of these efforts.  Ride east on Dykman and the Harlem Greenway is just across 10th Avenue.  Ride west on Dykman and you’re on the Hudson River Park Greenway that goes all the way to Battery Park and beyond.  Go west and around the corner on Ft. George Hill and you’ll find the trailhead to the only mountain bike trails in Manhattan.  From calm, flat, bike paths to rugged, steep single track, every type of cycling is within blocks of Highbridge Park.

What’s wonderful about this neighborhood is that it’s a great place for any cyclist,” said Chris Wogas, president of Bike and Roll NYC.  “There’s a path or trail for everyone, from the novice to the most expert.”

“It’s really a great family activity,” said Jennifer Hoppa of the NYC Parks and Recreation Department and Inwood resident.  “Kids can easily and safely ride to the Harlem River Greenway where there’s a lovely, wide bike path.  It’s easy to keep an eye on the kids as they explore a new part of their neighborhood.”

Biking gives access to places that feel too far away to walk to.  It’s a fun, easy, healthy family activity.  It’s a great way to see sights you couldn’t see any other way.  It’s green.  Just about anyone can do it.  Then there are the adrenaline rushes from riding Highbridge’s mountain bike trails.  All these experiences are possible with a trip to Bike and Roll NYC’s newest Manhattan location:  Highbridge Park.

About Highbridge Park

Highbridge confounds expectations. With everything from smooth cruisers to wickedly technical “east coast gnar,” the trails provide a small but entertaining subsample of the best of the regions trails, all within the confines of the densest metropolitan area in North America. Highbridge Park itself straddles the rocky cliff band above Harlem River Drive between 155th Street and Dyckman Street, and the trails use this rocky, cliff-strewn terrain to their advantage… routing beginner riders through the shadow of hulking rock cliffs, and taking expert riders up, down and across the steep and challenging cliffside. In addition to the XC trails, Highbridge also features a freeride trail, with terrain that includes drops, berms, steeps, rock gardens and other challenging features sure to get your adrenalin pumping (designed and built in conjunction with pro ride Jim Dellavalle and the Brooklyn Bike Riders). But the most-used feature of Highbridge Park is the dirt jump park, designed and built by IMBA Trailsolutions with current and former pro riders Judd DeVall, Jeff Lenosky and Kyle Ebbett. The Highbridge jumps include a pump track, a beginner line with three small jumps, and an intermediate line with five tables and two berms. While the XC trails are a bit short to ride as a destination, they’re perfect for city residents looking for a local spin and riders out to sample a bit of everything- jumps, drops and trail riding all in one place, and all a half block from the #1 train.