Author Archives: Jason Hackett

3rd Annual Brooklyn Waterfront Epic Ride on July 30, 2011

On Saturday, July 30th, join Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (BGI), Transportation Alternatives (TA) Brooklyn Volunteer Committee, National Park Service, Rockaway Waterfront Alliance and Regional Plan Association (RPA) for the 3rd Annual Brooklyn Waterfront Epic Ride, a 40 mile ride along Brooklyn’s entire waterfront and Jamaica Bay that highlights the potential of a completed Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway combined with a completed Jamaica Bay Greenway.

Following the ride you can go to the beach or make your way back independently via the A train, a Rockaway ferry to Wall Street Pier 11 from Riis Landing (at 3:00PM or 5:00PM) or by riding back on Flatbush Avenue, the most direct route to northern Brooklyn.

Register today!

Want to participate in the Brooklyn Waterfront Epic Ride but don’t have a bike? Rent one from Bike and Roll New York City. Our nearest rental location is our Brooklyn Bridge Park location at the end of old Fulton Street and very close to the start of the ride. Please call 212.260.0400 to make sure the right size bike is waiting for you on the day of the ride.

Bike the River Valley: A Nice Day of Cycling along the Hudson

 

Looking to get out of the city on your bike? Check out the Bike the River Valley touring event. Here’s the “skinny” and the rest of the details are below:

Date: Sunday, July 17, 2011

Location: Highland, NY

Type of Event: Touring

Routes for beginners and experts (40 miles, 70 miles, 100 miles)

Optional transportation available from New York City

The best rest stops, superb support, marked routes, free hot showers at the finish line, free post-ride meal, free massage, all ages welcome and kids ride free!

This is a lovely ride with great scenery, fun people, wonderful volunteers, and lots of food. Almost 1,500 people are expected to register and participate, and the support for this event is huge.

Everyone starts at the Highland start/finish line. From there, the ride heads east over the Hudson, then turns north to visit FDR’s home, the Vanderbilt Mansion, and the Mills Mansion.

At this point, the routes split:

  • The 40-mile rider ends at Bard College.  From there the race sponsors will transport your bike and you back to the start/finish line.  (Why not have you do a loop?  Because there’s just not that much difference on the way home AND because you would miss Bard College, which is lovely.)
  • After the 70s and 100s visit Bard college, they split.  The 70s head straight over the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge and then back to the start/finish line in Highland by riding along the west side of the Hudson.
  • The 100-mile riders head north to the beautiful towns of Tivoli and Germantown, before heading over the Kingston-Rhinecliff bridge and joining up with the 70-mile riders.  The 70s and the 100s ride back along the west side of the Hudson to the start/finish line.

The details are too many to post here so we’re going to refer you over to the event site for much more additional reading, photos, and registration information.

Don’t have a bike but want to participate in this event? Bike and Roll New York City can absolutely help. Call us at 212.260.0400 for information about the types of bikes we offer that would be suitable for this event.

Hop On, Hop Off Bike Rentals Roll Into City Parks

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, second from left, joins Bike and Roll executives on some Bike and Roll bicycles. (Photo credit DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht)

by Leslie Albrecht, DNAinfo.com

UPPER WEST SIDE — Just in time for the summer cycling season, bike rental outfit Bike and Roll unveiled a new “hop on, hop off” service in which riders will be able to return rented bikes at any of the company’s locations around the city.

Bike and Roll has a contract with the Parks Department to rent bikes at 11 locations, including the Tavern on the Green parking lot in Central Park, Riverside Park South and West Harlem Piers Park.

Starting Tuesday, the company will allow riders to “hop on” their bikes at one location, and “hop off” of them at any other Bike and Roll locations throughout the city, including Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and Governor’s Island. The company had previously required that riders return their bikes to the same place they were rented.

“It allows every person to personalize Manhattan and see it the way they want to see it,” Bike and Roll NYC president Chris Wogas said at the announcement event on Tuesday at Tavern on the Green.

Bike and Roll’s rental prices range from $12 an hour for a beach cruiser to $69 for a day for a Trek racing bike.

Aside from renting bikes, Bike and Roll runs community programs, including free riding lessons for kids and a good neighbor initiative that fixes flat tires for any cyclist who stops at a Bike and Roll location.

Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe encouraged the public to jump on a bike this summer, saying that the city is becoming increasingly bike-friendly, with new bike lanes and six miles of bike paths in Central Park.

Plans to add even more cycling to Central Park by letting cyclists to share crosstown paths with pedestrians this summer have drawn praise from bike riders, and criticism from an Upper East Side community board.

 

The City and Bike: Rubber Meets Road

by Jason Gay, Wall Street Journal, June 22, 2011
It is now summer 2011 and have you noticed a change? New York City isn’t freaking out so hard about bicycling.

Spring was a little shrill and embarrassing. There were crazed media furies about bike lanes, non-stop reports of police crackdowns, hyperbolic worries that the city was transforming into an effete Euro village. If we didn’t defend our streets, the cyclists would overtake Manhattan. Mayor Bloomberg and Department of Transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan would open a leg-shaving station in Union Square.

One day you’d walk down to the harbor and see the Statue of Liberty sausaged into tight shorts, sipping a Stumptown espresso and thumbing through Velonews.
But then a funny thing occurred. It got warmer, more people started riding, and the mania was eclipsed by reality.

That’s the beauty of a bike, a simple machine with two wheels and zero ideology. When you can turn a pedal and feel safe, it’s fun and makes sense.

And anyone can ride. There have been cheesy distortions of cycling as a trendy, elite activity—to link bike paths to ongoing gentrification, and claim the city is catering to a hipster fringe.
You want to see what a fraud that argument is? Get on a bike and ride. For every Spandexed obsessive tucked on a $3,000 carbon fiber frame you’ll see 100 people of every imaginable background just trying to get to work, do their job, have fun with their kids, safely spin from A to B.

Bikes are New York fringe? Email your friends. Ask how many of them own bikes. Then ask how many of them own cars. If more of them say they own cars, look out the window. You live in Connecticut.
This is not to say there aren’t problems. Safety is still a priority. Many places in the city continue to need pathways and better solutions. A ride through midtown still feels like Car-mageddon. The West Side Bike path on a weekend is a free-for-all. The Brooklyn Bridge is tourist madness—always take the saner Manhattan, if you can.

And cyclists can’t be exempt from criticism. A bike rider in New York City has a responsibility to be not just an advocate but an ambassador. There’s nothing worse than a haughty biker who thinks the rules don’t apply to him or her.

Actually there is something worse: a haughty biker without a helmet blowing a whistle, yelling out of the corner of his or her mouth for people to get out of the way. Slow down, lunatic.
But New York’s cycling momentum looks unstoppable. The city is finally closing in on a bike sharing program, in which people will be able to rent bikes for a small fee at a kiosk and return it at another kiosk at their destination. This is long overdue. It’s a little embarrassing New York doesn’t already have it. Washington, D.C. beat us.

Think bike sharing has nothing for you? You know the traffic nightmare of getting across town at 4:30 p.m.? Can’t get a cab; subway doesn’t go there; it’s too far to walk. Imagine paying a couple bucks to hop on a bike, and pedal safely through the gridlock to get there in five minutes.

Naturally, there are cries that bike sharing will cause chaos, that ghastly kiosks will clutter the sidewalks, that it’s another example of urban planning gone amok.

Right, of course! Paris installed bike sharing a few years ago, and now look at it. It’s completely ruined; nobody goes to Paris anymore.

The revival of urban cycling in this country follows a fairly predictable pattern: nervousness and ridicule, followed by the realization that the truth never matches the fear-mongering. The supposed choice between bikes and everyone else is a bogus choice. More bikes in a city doesn’t merely benefit riders; it reduces congestion, saves money, improves quality of life, elevates the experience. No one returns from a city and says, “Oh, it was great—except for all the biking.”

The biggest mischaracterization about the infamous New York Cycling War is that there’s a war at all.
Look all around you. The bikes have won, and it’s not a terrible thing.

Boat Ride and Bike Ride at the Same Time

NEW YORK (WABC) — Now there’s a way to go on a boat ride and a bike ride at the same time. All you have to do is pick up a bike at one of the Bike and Roll locations in Manhattan and catch a ride on a New York Water Taxi. You can ride right on, and they’ll even help you with your bike.

The New York Water Taxi has been around for 10 years and there are 10 taxis in the fleet. It is an ideal way to see the sites and a fun way to get to various points around the city. But for those who want a little exercise, there’s the hop-on, hop-off service.

For $49 a day, you can rent a bike and get access to the water taxi at four locations.

One option is to rent from Pier 8 and you ride down the West Side Highway and continue on down to the Battery Tunnel.

You can also catch a view of Lady Liberty, head over to Brooklyn, or ride across the bridge.

On the Brooklyn side, there is the Brooklyn Bridge Park which has a glorious setting with paths to ride along. The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is only one pedal away.

If you have your own bike, you can hop on or hop off for $25 or $15 for kids.

You can even do this when you’re exhausted and just enjoy the breeze.

For more information, please visit www.nywatertaxi.com/hop/BikeWaterTaxi

(Copyright ©2011 WABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

 

Tour the Monmouth Countryside: Twin Lights Ride

 

Presented by Jamaica Tourist Board

September 25, 2011

Start/Finish: Highlands, NJ

Bike New York, an organization that promotes and encourages bicycling and bicycle safety through education and events, has pulled out all the stops for their season-ending ride in 2011! New routes alongside the ocean, pies, and chocolate fountains are some of the highlights while riding back roads of Monmouth County, New Jersey. Founded in 2002, the annual Twin Lights Ride begins and ends beneath the famed Twin Lights overlooking Sandy Hook and features:

  • Four mileage choices, from 30 to 100 miles, including optional group rides
  • Landmark lighthouse views
  • Well-marked routes, well-stocked rest areas, full SAG support
  • Fresh, local seafood for sale at post-ride festival and in town
  • Free T-shirt for the first 1,500 registrants
  • Optional round-trip ferry from NYC (reservations available until September 24)
  • A portion of rider entry fees helps people with cancer via The Wellness Community, and you can help additionally by becoming a VIP fund-raiser.

Riders have the option of joining a group or riding on their own for the 30- and 55-mile routes. Route Info >

At the end of the ride, everyone returns to Highlands to enjoy a meal at one of the many seafood (or other) restaurants, catch some music or light food at the post-ride festival, and pick up the ride T-shirt (eligible participants only). Thanks to the Highlands Business Partnership for working with us to offer this full day of cycling, seafood, and fun!

Rider Feedback from 2010

“Just wanted to say a big “THANK YOU” to all involved in the event. This was my first organized cycling event and it far exceeded my expectations. The route was marked very well. The people running the rest stops were incredibly friendly. I came with friends but made more along the way. I was also happy to get to know the Highlands community. I otherwise would have probably never ventured out there but is was quite lovely and I’m thinking of planning a date-night with my wife in the area.”
-JC, 50 miles

“I just want to thank you for a fabulous riding event today. I have nothing bad to say from start to finish. I love how we got to take the ferry to the starting point of the ride. All the rest stops had everything I need. See you next year.”
-GL, 100 miles

“We just wanted to thank you. We traveled from Utica, NY, for this ride and we definitely plan to come back next year. We were pleased with its organization, safety, course markings, rest areas, and overall friendliness of participants. It was a truly enjoyable experience.”
-DM, 50 miles

“Just wanted to convey my appreciation for organizing a super duper ride/event. The road markings especially were beyond reproach. The rest areas were well equipped. Volunteers were ever cheerful. And the cruel climbs at the end of century… pure genius! Loved it all. To quote a gu’vnor, ‘I’ll be back.'”
-AS, 100 miles

“I had a great time at the ride Saturday. You guys did an excellent job! I have never done an organized ride before and I can’t see how any others could be better than this experience. My thanks to all the volunteers, the police, and the rescue people.”
-AB, 50 miles

 

New Yorkers for Bicycling

New Yorkers are greater than their chosen mode of transportation. The residents of New York City are not bicyclists or straphangers or taxi passengers; we are New Yorkers, and we want a livable city, safe and vibrant. Because bicycles ease speeding, reduce crashes and nourish our street life, we want bicycles to be a part of New York City.

According to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, a majority of New Yorkers support a bicycle-friendly New York because of the benefits bicycling provides. Bicycles make our neighborhoods safer, saner and simply more amenable places to live. By shrinking crash rates and calming traffic, bicycling breeds a bubbling street life that is New York’s greatest identifying marker.

This summer, for the first time ever, T.A. will be rallying the diversity of New York — cyclists, pedestrians, car owners; children, students, commuters, seniors — to build a bridge between bicycling and a safer, saner and more sociable New York. We’re proud to announce T.A.’s new campaign: New Yorkers for Bicycling.

T.A. will be building bridges this summer and hosting conversations about how well New York and bicycling go together:

From Bicyclist to Bicyclist
T.A. will foster peer-to-peer education about how to bike polite.
From Bicyclist to Businesses
T.A. will connect businesses to bicycling customers and owners to safe cycling education for their employees.
From Every New Yorker to a Better New York
T.A. will educate everyone about how simple bike-friendly infrastructure has the power to make reduce crashes and increase safety.

No matter our chosen mode of travel or our role in this great tumbling metropolis, all New Yorkers can take part in ushering in a safer, saner, more sociable New York City. The power of bicycling to calm traffic and encourage a vibrant street life is a message we can all spread. Because bikes are good for New York, New Yorkers are for bikes. Are you one? Declare it now.

The Fourth Annual Tour de Queens

 

The 4th Annual Tour de Queens will be held on Sunday, July 10th, 2011

For a taste of what you’re in for, check out this video of riders enjoying the 2009 Tour de Queens, courtesy of StreetFilms.org:

The Tour de Queens starts in Flushing Meadows Park by the Queens Museum of Art. Check-in begins at 8 am. The ride begins at 9:00 am.

  • The Tour de Queens is a leisurely paced, 20-mile ride open to cyclists of all ages and skill levels.
  • The course is mostly flat and will go through the parks and neighborhoods of eastern and northern Queens.
  • We will visit the neighborhoods of Corona, Forest Hills, Glendale, Ridgewood, Maspeth, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights. There will be a rest stop in Forest Park.
  • Registration is required; limited day of registration will be available at the Start on a first come, first serve basis, beginning at 8am.
  • Helmets are required for riders under 14 years of age.

Getting there: The Tour de Queens starts in Flushing Meadow Corona Park between the Queens Museum of Art and the Unisphere.

Mass transit: Via #7 Flushing, Queens. Exit Mets-Willets Point and follow the signs to Flushing Meadows Corona Park through the exit ramp of the station into the park. Then, follow signs for the Queens Museum on a fifteen-minute walk through the park to the museum, which is located next to the Unisphere, the giant steel globe. Get subway and bus directions powered by HopStop (exiting at Mets-Willets Point)

Alternatively, exit at 111th Street Station. Walk south on 111th Street past the New York Hall of Science. Left on 49th Avenue into the Park. Continue past fountain over the Grand Central Parkway walking bridge. Museum is on right, next to Unisphere, the giant steel globe. Get subway and bus directions powered by HopStop (Exiting at 111th Street)

Please Note: If you plan on taking the subway check the MTA Service Advisory Postings before leaving home.

For walking, cycling and (gasp) driving directions, use this address in google maps:

Queens Museum of Art New York City Building Flushing Meadows Corona Park Queens NY 11368

 

Rough Riders in the City (Yes, the City)

(by Brian Fidelman, New York Times, July 22, 2010)

NEW York City is becoming a bicycle rider’s paradise. Paths grace the shorelines of Manhattan and Brooklyn, parks offer shady loops, and bike lanes increasingly provide physical separation from car traffic.

Biker-friendly: Markers at Cunningham Park point the way to easier or to more difficult routes.

But that’s all on pavement. Riding through the woods, negotiating twists and turns and roots and rocks, is an entirely different experience. (Although avoiding taxicab doors and delivery trucks is good practice.) Mountain biking improves upper body control and balance as much as leg strength and aerobic capacity.

Make it up that twisty, rock-strewn hill, and triumph is in the air.

“You accomplish this thing that has stymied you the last few times,” said Jamie Bogner, president of the New York City Mountain Biking Association. “You’ve done it.”

Until a few years ago, mountain bikers would have to head for the hills, or at least the suburbs, to find a legal trail. Today, though, there are three — one in Manhattan, one in Queens and one in Staten Island — that put backwoods riding within the swipe of aMetroCard.

Each trail has its own environment, terrain and challenges. All three were de factodumping grounds before volunteers did some heavy lifting, both in persuading the city to allow the mountain biking and in actually removing discarded tires, refrigerators and stoves.

There’s enough to do in the parks that house the trails to make each worthy of a day trip.

For a beginner, the first order of business is getting hold of a mountain bike. Mine was refitted years ago with slick tires for faster city riding, so I decided to rent one. Many bike stores and rental companies supply hybrids, but not bikes suitable for trails. I found mine at Central Park Bike Rentals, where I paid $35 for the full day, lock and helmet included. With three businesses splitting the retail space, this has to be one of the few places where you can order a crepe, surf the Web and shop for bike gloves while your rental gets a safety check.

As for technique, Mr. Bogner suggests keeping your body loose, particularly the arms and legs, which he called “your best shock absorbers,” and getting comfortable with changing gears and using both brakes.

And now, off to the woods.

Queens

Getting to the trailhead at Cunningham Park is probably the hardest part of riding there. It’s a 20-minute bike trip from the last stop on the F train, or about 30 minutes from the 7 to the trailhead at 210th Street and 67th Avenue. But bring directions, which you can get from the mountain biking association’s Web site, nycmtb.com, because the park is large.

The trails are well defined and perfect for a first-time mountain biker. Markers point the way to the easiest or more difficult routes, and even the hard parts have easier options. The paths are one-way, so there’s no oncoming traffic, and while there are enough trails to bike for hours, you probably won’t get lost.

The riders I encountered there on a recent blazing Saturday were friendly, supportive and as diverse as Queens itself. Greg Martinez of Rego Park, Queens, invited me to follow him on a loop. Mr. Martinez, who works in tech support, said he first biked here about a year ago and now can’t stay away. “It was all downhill from there,” he said, adding that he does his bit to keep the trail clean by carrying out a piece of litter each time he rides.

We sped around banked turns, hopped over obstacles and rolled through small but exhilarating dips and inclines. The experience reminded me of a roller-coaster ride that makes you shout like a child, “Again!”

Explore more of Cunningham Park and you’re likely to find yourself biking on a shady, paved path called the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, one of America’s original automobile roads (fascinating historical marker) that you can follow east to Alley Pond Park. West of Cunningham Park, within about a half-hour’s bike ride, are the Queens Botanical Garden and Queens Museum of Art.

Staten Island

Reminiscent of the Ewoks’ forest moon in “Return of the Jedi,” Wolfe’s Pond Park is the lushest of the three city spots. It is also the only one with freshwater ponds and a beach.

Unless you live on Staten Island, getting there can take awhile, but if a bike-boat-rail adventure to thick woodlands piques your interest, this is the trip.

The Staten Island Ferry has a bicycle area on the lower level, and once a search dog sniffs its approval, you park your bike and enjoy the 25-minute ride. Next, walk your bike to the Staten Island Railway. Exit about 35 minutes later at Prince’s Bay. Cross over the tracks and make an immediate left on Herbert Street. There’s the trail.

Wolfe’s Pond is good for beginners, with orange markings guiding the way, but there is more trial and error here, and a few more downed trees to circumnavigate, than at Cunningham Park. The thickness of the woods and humidity on the day I went made it feel like a rain forest, a sensation that grew when the skies opened about 20 minutes later.

On a nicer day there’s plenty more to do: go to the beach; visit Anderson’s Annex, a remote bar and restaurant near the bay; or take a 3.5-mile ride east on Hylan Boulevard to the southernmost point in New York State, Conference House Park, where the British and the Americans failed to hash things out in 1776. Back at the ferry landing, meanwhile, you can catch a Staten Island Yankees game.

Manhattan

If Cunningham and Wolfe’s Pond are a little bit country, then Highbridge Park is thrashing rock ’n’ roll. Forget mellow, rolling and lush; think instead of cliffs, rocks and twisting, leg-burning climbs. In mountain bike speak, the trail is technical.

It’s also easy to reach. When the uptown No. 1 train pulls into the Dyckman Street stop, you can see the green sign for a trail entrance off to the right, just across the street on Fort George Hill.

As Mr. Bogner of the mountain biking association gave me a tour of the trail he helped to create, he reminded me to walk the bike through difficult stretches, advice worth heeding as we spun through areas with names like Hellfighter, Hessian Hill and Rough Ryder.

If you want to get the lay of the land before trying a trail, take in the summer sprint racing series, a casual event for mountain bikers that begins on Friday night. The park is also home to a city pool and a water tower that overlooks High Bridge, the city’s oldest, expected to reopen in 2013 after a renovation.

We stopped to check out the dirt jump park, a feature that accompanies the trails in all three boroughs and is popular with young BMX riders.

The one downer is the litter on the trails, evidence that visitors other than mountain bikers have been having a good time here. Mr. Bogner said the park, a 45-block sliver overlooking the Harlem River, had come a long way from its low point, when miles of paved paths were buried beneath layers of garbage. But he said it was still a work inprogress.

“Who would think that in the middle of the most densely populated island in North America,” he said, “that you could get an interesting, challenging wilderness experience out on trails?”

IF YOU GO

Details about parks are at nycgovparks.org; search for the park name. Besides riding the trails yourself, you can try:

Cunningham Park, Queens

VANDERBILT MOTOR PARKWAY Paved bike path; nycgovparks.org; search for “Greenway Guide.”

QUEENS BOTANICAL GARDEN 43-50 Main Street, Flushing; (718) 886-3800,queensbotanical.org.

Wolfe’s Pond Park, Staten Island

ANDERSON’S ANNEX Post-ride drinks; 83 Purdy Place, at Holton Avenue, Prince’s Bay; (718) 948-9410.

CONFERENCE HOUSE PARK Biking, hiking, landmarks; Tottenville; (718) 984-6046,theconferencehouse.org.

STATEN ISLAND YANKEES vs. the Brooklyn Cyclones, Saturday and Monday at 7 p.m.; Richmond County Bank Ballpark, St. George; (718)720-9265,web.minorleaguebaseball.com; $12 to $16.

Highbridge Park, Manhattan

SUMMER SPRINT RACING SERIES Beginning on Friday at 6:45 p.m.; Highbridge trails at Dyckman Street and Fort George Hill; nycmtb.com.

FREE SUMMER CONCERTS Tuesdays in August at 7 p.m.; Highbridge Park, West 155th Street, at Dyckman Street, Washington Heights; (212) 360-2777, nycgovparks.org; search “Highbridge Park.”

FREE NATURAL HISTORY WALK Led by the Urban Park Rangers; Aug. 8 at 1 p.m. Meet at 174th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, Washington Heights.

Resources

NEW YORK CITY MOUNTAIN BIKE ASSOCIATION Guides to trails; nycmtb.com; click on “NYC Trails.”