Seeing New York City by Bicycle

brooklynbikeOn our road trip around the US we stopped in Brooklyn to visit a few friends and spend some time seeing the city. Starving for some pedaling time we lucked into a few borrowed bikes and spent nearly all of our stay navigating NYC’s system of bike lanes as we toured around.

NYC’s bike network is the subject of much debate in the city and elsewhere. With such dense population cycling is seen both as a way to reduce congestion and as a large contributor to it.

As tourists in the city and experienced urban cyclists we were curious to tour the city by bike and see how it compared to other cities we’d cycled through in terms of infrastructure, safety and ease of getting around.

The first thing we did was get a hard copy of the NYC bike map, conveniently available for free at just about every bike shop in Brooklyn (and there are a lot of bike shops in Brooklyn). We also downloaded the free Bike Map app for the iPhone.

Just by looking at the maps you can get a pretty good idea of the network. In Brooklyn almost any trip can be done on designated bikeways—either roads with shared or separated bike lanes. In Manhattan we found that things were a bit more difficult.

Holes appeared in the network and there were a few occasions when we had to get off the bike to navigate an intense intersection or to meet up with the street where the bike lane was. The good news was that all of the bridges between Brooklyn and Manhattan have bike lanes and bikes are also allowed on the subway.

All in all cycling in New York City was a pleasurable but intense experience. Good times included a few instances where bike lanes were entirely filled with doubled parked cars, forcing us into the lane of traffic for whole city blocks and the new (and highly controversial) bikeway along Prospect Park where a two-way bikeway is separated from traffic by a line of (legally) parked cars. High class!

Whether you are living in the city and thinking about cycling for transportation or you are just in the city for a visit, cycling is a great way to get around. Pick up a copy of the bike map, plan your trip and get pedaling.

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