Category Archives: Urban Biking

A Cyclists Field Guide to Biking the Bridges

by Garrett McMahon

The Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, though they share the same purpose of getting you over the East River, are as different as the two boroughs they’re named after. Being the first major suspension bridge in the city, the Brooklyn was built in an era with no heavy machinery and power tools, and after fourteen years of effort it shows, looking almost like an ancient Roman structure. The Manhattan, built around fifty years after, couldn’t look more different, with steel girders fastened together by rivets and sharp, angular shapes in its design.

Biking across these bridges is just as different an experience as their appearance. Let’s start with the Manhattan Bridge. Say you’re staying in a hotel in Manhattan but someone recommended you check out Williamsburg or DUMBO, and you want to get there with as little fuss as possible. In this case, you’ll want to take the Manhattan Bridge.

Starting out at the entrance on Canal Street, the first thing you’ll notice is how much room there is. The bridge has its own two-directional lane dedicated to biking. This where you’ll find native New Yorkers riding on, most likely people who live in Brooklyn and are either commuting to work or going back home. While there are some great views of the Brooklyn Naval Yard to take in, you’ll want to look both ways before stopping for some photos. Think of this bridge as a highway: it’s speedy and convenient to get to where you need to go, and fun as long as you’re aware that there are people behind you who think you’re going slow, no matter how fast you are!

Also, while the Manhattan Bridge is a major historical landmark in its own right, let’s just say it may not be as well-tended as its next-door neighbor the Brooklyn Bridge. You’ll find a lot of graffiti all around the bridge (some of it even in the subway tunnel right next to you!), and a lot of it quite impressive to see in its own right.

Now let’s head over to the Brooklyn Bridge. If the Manhattan is a fast and breezy highway, then biking across the Brooklyn is a quaint country road. With a lot of other people. If you plan on biking across an icon of New York City and a National Historic Landmark since 1964, let’s charitably say that you should expect to go at a leisurely pace. The fun to be had on this bridge is taking in the spectacular views of the Downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn skylines, and admiring the bridge itself, and the amount of manpower and effort that went into the construction of this Herculean structure—so it’s a good thing you’ll have plenty of time to do it.

The two towers holding up the suspension bridge provide walkways spacious enough to get off and take some snapshots of the skylines. If you bike to the middle of the bridge, you’ll find another nice place to stop, with some benches, some space to move around (since most of the people who start to walk across don’t usually follow through and turn around halfway.)

You can see both magnificent landmarks (and their bike lanes, with all the quirks that come with them) and much more on our Bike the Brooklyn Bridge tour, which leaves daily at 2:00 pm. We’ll see you there!

Biking in Lower Manhattan

by: Nick Shannon

Lower Manhattan is the heart of NYC. It is where the city began, its financial powerhouse, and the home of many of the most iconic landmarks in the city. Truly a melting pot, Lower Manhattan brings people, ideas, buildings, and public space together in a dense and high energy experience that is easily accessible by bike. The entire neighborhood has been seriously revitalized, after years of slow moving post 9/11 development to accommodate for transportation and commercial spaces. East River Park is the perfect starting point for your next biking trip to see the most vibrant parts of the Big Apple.

 

INTERACTIVE MAP of Lower Manhattan

Explore this wonderful, interactive map provided by the Downtown Alliance. You can explore the restaurants, attractions, shopping, parks, parking, hotels, and nightlife of Lower Manhattan.

http://www.downtownny.com/map

 

East River Park

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Bike and Roll’s new location in East River Park is right next to the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges, and the perfect location to begin your next Lower Manhattan exploration by bike! Pick up a bike rental and begin a relaxing ride with views of the East River and Brooklyn along the East River Promenade.

Chinatown

NYC is home to the second oldest Chinatown in the United States, a must-see if you are biking in Lower Manhattan. Make your way to Canal Street, the main street of Chinatown. Check out this self-guided tour of places you must see while you are there. It includes markets, historic buildings, tea shops, and restaurants that are top-rated. There are countless opportunities to bargain shop, eat, and enjoy the rich culture of the district.

Wall Street

Though it shouldn’t come as a surprise, there really was a wall on Wall Street! The Dutch settlers living in what was called New Amsterdam built it in 1652 to separate themselves from the threat of encroaching nature and the native people inhabiting Manhattan, the Lenapehoking. This is the term traditionally used to describe the tribes of Native Americans who inhabited the region now covered by Delaware, New Jersey and lower New York. In fact, the word Manhattan is a Dutch take on the Lenapeholking word for the island, Manna-Hata, meaning land of many hills. It worked until the British came and threw out the Dutch, renaming the city New York. It is now the epicenter of the city’s financial district.

The Dutch started by creating dirt paths to get from farm to farm, then the British paved the first roads that are now some of the oldest streets in America. You can now bike on these streets that have added bike lanes and experience one of the densest parts of the city.

Throughout most of lower Manhattan, you will feel the energy of New York City’s financial powerhouse in the financial district. Wall Street draws such a distinct crowd and it is fun to experience this quintessential NYC stereotype of people rushing around the street during lunch. Bike through the madness and see where NYC began.

Zuccotti Park

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Make your way Northwest to one of many Privately Owned Public Spaces in Lower Manhattan, Zuccotti Park- the center of the Occupy Wall Street movement. One of the more controversial public spaces, it is popular with local tourists and financial workers.

+ very shady from the trees and tall buildings, a great place to stop for a snack

 

Map of all NYC Bike Lanes 

Use this Bike Lane Map to plan your route. It shows all of the bike lanes in NYC.

 

Liberty Park

Elevated against the September 11 Memorial, Liberty Park is reminiscent of the High Line, the city’s first elevated park. Be sure to stop here on your way to the World Trade Center to enjoy the view of One World Trade and the complex of skyscrapers that define the area. It is also just nice to get above the ground to obtain a new perspective.

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World Trade Center – 9/11 Memorial

The 9/11 Memorial captures the void of the Twin Towers in a sobering way that honors the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks. A grid of Swamp White Oak trees occupies Ground Zero to create a memorable landscape experience. Today, it is situated in the middle of extensive new construction, with One World Trade Center at the core, holding the record of the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. The whole area was heavily affected by the attacks, and has bounced back to create a new, stronger landscape that remembers the past while looking to the future.

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Irish Hunger Memorial

Transport to a rural Irish landscape at this memorial that is a metaphor for the Irish Famine and reminder of the hunger issues we face today. Walk up the abandoned stone cottage to experience the stark contrast between the stone walls and plantings that are so different from the surrounding skyscrapers.

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Brookfield Place

Pick up some chic designer clothes at Brookfield Place, or just do some window shopping and check out the art installation of inflated birds on the ceiling. Air Pressure by Studio F Minus is a flock of floating, moving birds that move their wings in response to the air pressure in the building. From here, you can take the Battery Park City Esplanade up the West Side to Battery Park City and Teardrop Park.

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Battery Park City

Keep making your way Northwest to Battery Park City, a mainly residential neighborhood that is flooded with parks, art, restaurants, playgrounds, and recreational opportunities. Bike along the Battery Park City Esplanade that runs up the Hudson River to visit the attractions. This is a great place to bike at sunset. Ride on the protected bike lanes and enjoy the view of the Hudson river.

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Teardrop Park

Just north from Battery Park City, you will find the robust plantings, engaging topography, and irregular shapes that characterize Teardrop Park and maximize its location between apartment buildings. Walk next to the sweeping rock walls, take a ride down the huge slide, and relax on the lawns surrounded by wooded areas on your bike ride around Battery City. The perfect place to stop to get a glimpse of a designed natural environment.

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IMG_0281Battery Park

Hop back on the Hudson River Greenway and head South to Battery Park, which was rapidly transformed after being hit hard during Hurricane Sandy. There are a lot of new features that have made the park a stronger, more designed landscape. The newly opened Battery Oval is a 90,000 square foot grass expanse that is the perfect place to relax on one of the floral chairs to enjoy the scenery during your bike ride around the area.

Battery Park is also at the perfect location to get out on the water. You can take a ferry to Staten Island, Ellis Island, Governors Island. And when you’re on the water, you get the best view of the Lower Manhattan skyline.

+ Connections to: Hudson River Greenway, East River Bikeway, Battery Park City Esplanade

Take a break on the water and cool off with the invigorating breeze. Watch the boats pass by and appreciate the immense density and human alteration that went into this one-of-a-kind landscape.

+ Get tickets to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

+ Ride the Seaglass Carousel

+ Take the IKEA Water Taxi to Red Hook and get amazing views of the waterfront

[Pier 11 to IKEA. Free on the weekends, $5 Mon-Fri]

+ Ride the Staten Island Ferry for free

+ Sail on the Clipper City, a replica of a historic lumber hauling ship through Manhattan by Sail

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South Street Seaport

Close up your biking loop at the South Street Seaport, an exciting waterfront district that is home to a variety of unique events, like Good Beer 2016 on Thursday, July 28— a walk-around beer tasting and food pairing event from internationally acclaimed craft breweries, chefs and food artisans. Use the promo code, 643FIDIGUEST when purchasing your tickets to enjoy 30% off the price of general admission tickets.

[July 28 from 6-9 pm at 180 Maiden Lane]

After your day of exploring, drop your rental back off at East River Park and get a bite to eat with a discount from:

Get Low – Food Discounts

After biking all day, you will have worked up an appetite. Take advantage of the Get Low promotion through the Downtown Alliance to explore the delicious food offerings in the area. Sign up for GET LOW to get 20% off, a free appetizer or desert, or bogo drinks at participating restaurants in Lower Manhattan! This is the best way to try new food.

[after 4pm on Tuesdays between June 21-August 30, 2016]

+ eat delicious food with a discount

Why Bike Lower Manhattan?

Biking is a rapid, non-aggravating way to travel. You will often find yourself arriving at a destination faster than a car, or the subway, especially if it is a shorter distance. It is also enjoyable and one of the best ways to explore Lower Manhattan. In an area that is constantly changing with new construction, get here while you can to experience the excitement and bike your way through the vibrant street life.

Why You Need to Bike Across the Williamsburg Bridge

 

By: Nick Shannon

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New York City is an amazing place to bike. Not only is it thrilling, but it gets you outside to enjoy the great views, parks, water, and array of recreational opportunities available (especially during the summer!). If you are biking in the city, you will want to go across its bridges to soak in as much of the culture of the outer boroughs as possible. Here are 6 reasons why you should add the Williamsburg Bridge to your next biking adventure.

6. Bike the bridge for a workout, or just enjoy a leisurely ride with a great view

It will only take you around 15 minutes, depending on your ability. Get in your workout and don’t let the incline stop you – you and your legs will thank you later! The gradual slope will give you cardio, build muscles, and increase your endurance all in one activity. You will also be flowing above the cars and past any traffic. Biking is the perfect way to avoid road congestion and unnecessary delays.

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5. Explore Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn for the day on a bike loop

It is the perfect bridge to bike as part of a loop. If you pick up a rental bike at Bike and Roll’s Battery Park location, you can go straight over the Brooklyn Bridge, explore Brooklyn Heights, then make your way north up the Kent Ave Greenway to Williamsburg. Enjoy an afternoon of delicious food and quirky shops, then cross the Williamsburg Bridge back to Manhattan to see more of the Lower East Side. The Williamsburg Bridge offers a utilitarian ride that is quick and enjoyable – something that New York commuters definitely appreciate. Pedestrians have a separate walk on the south side of the bridge and the path for bikes is on the north side

Link to map: https://goo.gl/maps/St5hQ791NAw

 

4. SMORGASBURG – the Brooklyn Flea Food Market

One of the coolest food events in the city on a Saturday is Smorgasburg in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Over 100 local vendors sell their creative concoctions in what becomes a local food paradise. Try something you never thought you would, such as a ramen burger, truffle fries, a hibiscus doughnut, or mango on a stick with chili powder. You could go every weekend and still find something new.

TIMES: Every Saturdays from 11 am – 6 pm
East River State Park: 90 Kent Ave. (at N. 7th)

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3. ARTISTS AND FLEAS – Artist, Designer and Vintage Market

Just a block away from Smorgasburg, you will find the Artists and Fleas market where local artisans and designers sell their products. You will find one-of-a kind trinkets, jewelry, crafts, fashion and vintage- the perfect opportunity to get a gift for that special someone and it may be hard to not pick up something for yourself. You will feel good about supporting small business and makers, which is a great way to engage with the community. Enjoy just browsing the crafts, and get some time in with the dogs out front.

TIMES: Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am – 7 pm
70 North 7th Brooklyn
Williamsburg, NY

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2. YOGA ON THE FARM – evening yoga at North Brooklyn Farms

If you end up keeping a bike overnight and find yourself in Williamsburg in the evening, the perfect way to end your ride is with Yoga on the Farm. Stretch the muscles you just workout out on the bike and enjoy a little meditative practice to calm your mind in this big, bustling city. The view of the sun setting against the Manhattan skyline is the perfect excuse to stop and just breathe.

TIMES: Tuesdays from 6:45 pm – 7:45 pm
North Brooklyn Farms
320 Kent Avenue (@ S. 4th Street)
Brooklyn, NY

1. New York City is a great place to explore by bike. It is a great way to visit a lot of places, but still have the on-the-ground experience you miss from being in a car or on a train. There are so many bike lanes to take advantage of to get you from point A to B, or just to explore the boroughs. If you are just visiting, or don’t own a bike and want a weekend adventure, a bike rental is the perfect thing for you.

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The Williamsburg Bridge may just be the one thing that will spark your next NYC adventure. It is the perfect excuse to explore Brooklyn and lower Manhattan on your next day off. Its location and character make it an enjoyable place to bike, so go out there and start exploring!

 

 

 

 

 

Things to Do in New York

Rent a bike at New York City's Riverside Park

The question we hear most often is “What are some things to do in New York, and what is the best way to do them?” Visitors want to see and learn about Central Park and all the numerous sightseeing locations around NYC. Well, Bike and Roll NYC has the perfect solution … why not try one of our top-rated bike tours around the city? We offer tours of Central Park, Waterfront Greenway, Brooklyn Bridge, downtown, and we even have a combination bike and water taxi tour you can try. You’ll be accompanied by one of our expert tour guides, so not only will you get some great exercise, but you’ll experience the city in a whole new way, and you will learn something too. If you prefer to tour the city by yourself, we also have many bike rental locations scattered about Manhattan and New Jersey. You can choose from a wide assortment of bikes, including performance bikes, race bikes, tandem bikes and even quadcycles. We even cater to kids too, so you can be assured of getting the proper equipment for the entire family.

So, if you and your family or group are looking for things to do in New York, you can get more information on the bike tours and bike rentals offered by Bike and Roll NYC on our website at http://www.bikeandrollnyc.com.

Bicycle Tours, the best way to travel!

Guide stories

When you travel, consider bicycle tours as a way to maximize your experience! A bicycle tour is the single best means to explore a travel destination. More efficient and covering more ground and material than walking while providing a much more intimate experience than a mass transit solution like a bus or a boat tour. A bicycle tour also does not include the challenges faced by auto drivers such as parking issues; traffic and the constant need to pay attention to the road.

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Travel by Tandem

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A tandem bicycle rental is a terrific way for a couple to explore a travel destination. While bikes in general are more efficient than walking and much more fun than being confined in a motor vehicle, the tandem adds a special dynamic.

The tandem experience eliminates the worry of separating or losing your partner. Also, ongoing conversation is much easier than if attempting to travel together on separate bicycles. You can share the workload as well but beware, tandems are a little more challenging when navigating hills.

There has been some discussion about tandem bikes and relationships. According to Angela Hill of the Oakland Tribune, “They’ve been called everything from love machines to divorce accelerators”. As a rental operator, I recall the first tandem rental I ever facilitated was to a newlywed couple in San Francisco. Upon return from their ride I was apprised of some conflict along the way relating to the pecking order of operator management. The biggest issue seemed to be the lack of advance warning to the rider in back about forthcoming bumps. In the end, we all had a good laugh and the relationship did not seem any worse for the wear.

Tandems are a great product to rent as they tend to be more economical than renting two separate bikes. Additionally, most people do not own a tandem, so renting one is a means to try something new. They are not difficult to ride, but a few important rules apply. The rider in front always mounts the bike first and the first one on is always the last one off. The front rider always stabilizes the bike for the back rider when mounting and dismounting the bike. Communication is also very important. Advising when brakes will be applied or when shifting greatly improves riding efficiency. Advising on forthcoming points of interest also makes for a better experience for the rider in back. And yes, the front rider should alway advise when there are bumps in the road.

Bike and Roll NYC recommends a tandem bicycle rental experience for those who enjoy adventurous travel and sharing experiences with others. See bikeandrollnyc.com/rental/tandem-bike/ for more information on renting a tandem in New York City.

Credits

Byline: Darryll White

Photo by: kohlmann.sascha via flickr

Bike share raises the bar

Chris Wogas of Bike and Roll NYC

by Lisa Fickensher, Crain’s New York Business (June 24, 2012)

The city’s vast bike-share program, launching in July, will join an expanding sea of bike shops and rental businesses taking advantage of the Bloomberg administration’s desire to make New York the best biking city in the country.

Even apartment buildings and hotels are buying bikes to offer as amenities for guests and residents. But while the cycling community expects the bike-share program to be a boon for business by encouraging more people to ride, it is also girding for competition.

“There certainly is going to be some overlap between us and bike share,” said Chris Wogas, president of Bike and Roll New York, the largest rental outfit in the city, which derives most of its business from visitors. “We’ll get people to do the shorter rides, and they will get some tourists.”

Read More »

Bicycle Tour Guides in New York City

Written By: Darryll White

 

New York City is one of the most visited places on the planet, ranking in some polls as the number five (5) tourist destination worldwide and number one (1) in the US. Due to all the history, diversity, culture, and architecture, along with a massive local retail and service industry, the city is a tremendous destination.

 

With all the city offers, a visit at first glance might seem overwhelming. For many, guided tours offer a way to capture the essence of certain sections and or aspects of the city in an efficient and enjoyable manner. There are many types of tours to choose from, including walking tours, bus tours, boat tours, bike tours, along with nuance tours such as food tours, architecture tours, history tours, neighborhood tours, etc.

 

The city strives to protect the interest of the visitor to NYC so that when purchasing guide services the consumer has some assurance, that those who provide services will be prepared to offer a quality product. While buyer-beware is always good advice, NYC offers a layer of consumer protection by requiring tour guides to obtain a Sightseeing Guide License. Acquisition of the license requires an extensive base of knowledge about the city and the tourism industry.

 

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Persons applying to become guides in NYC must file an application, provide proof of identity, take and pass the guide exam, and pay applicable fees.

 

The exam covers numerous topic areas and requires broad based understanding of the NYC touring industry. One must understand local logistics, history, have knowledge about local neighborhoods and landmarks, understand ethnic culture, including foods and religion and immigration patterns both historical and current; as well as have basic knowledge on local museums, public sculptures, art, culture, including music, theatre, dance and literature. Additionally, knowledge on architecture, city planning, parks, parkways and cemeteries is required.

 

The licensed guide is also required to understand “practicum”, which includes legal routing of passengers, pick up/drop off points for tour busses as well as the requirements surrounding the use of microphones, billing customers and taxes, along with terms specific to travel and tourism.

 

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When selecting a tour in the city, the consumer should qualify the operator by ensuring that they utilize authorized and licensed guides for all of their tours. Most guides will carry their license with them when conducting business and facilitating tours in the city.

 

Wendy Rose from Bike and Roll offers the following in regards to the license test: “The city guide licensing test is impressively rigorous, and I love it! The questions were incredibly involved, so I really had to study all aspects of the city (past, present, food, culture, navigation, etc). It does an excellent job of looking to all the Boroughs of New York. The test for me, took four hours to complete. It was exhaustive, but incredibly rewarding.  While some people likely find the test to be an unnecessary hurdle, I definitely welcomed the challenge and opportunity to immerse myself in as many details on NYC as possible”. 

 

Bike and Roll NYC has been providing bicycle tours in NYC since 2007. With eleven (11) locations in New York City and in Jersey City, NJ, Bike and Roll is the largest bicycle tour operator in the NY Metro area. The company offers several daily tours in Central Park and along the NYC and NJ waterfront. A night tour is available and some tours include packaged deals such as the Bike and Boat tour. Additionally, Bike and Roll NYC offers walking tours and Segway tours.

 

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Sending out more than eleven (11) daily tours with other tours available on demand takes a reliable and dedicated staff of tour guides and attention to detail at the management level.

 

According to Bob Trenta, Manager of Guides at Bike and Roll, “We have put together a quality team of seventeen [17] licensed tour guides, each having their own perspective of New York City.

 

The range of their experience and backgrounds is truly impressive. Actors, wood worker, Vassar grad, Columbia art history grad from Maui, rock band keyboardist, money manager, photographers, men’s clothing designer, architect, educators, Harvard educated contrarian, film editor, industrial designer and coaches all bring something different, unique and refreshing to each tour. 

 

They have been the backbone of the many four and five star reviews we have received. Most importantly, they are always willing to adjust their schedules anytime we need them for a major touring event”.

 

One key to facilitating a successful tour is to know your group. The development of a relationship adds great value to the tour and also helps the guide understand what the group most wants to see or to gain from their tour experience. From there the guide can tailor the tour by focusing on certain aspects and not others in order to best align with the group’s overall interests.

 

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Bike and Roll NYC tour guide, Dan Golden states: “My favorite part about working for Bike and Roll (aside from being paid to bike) is the flexibility. No two tours are the same, and if I get to make slight variations on the tour stops based on what I think the group will like, everyone is happier. For instance, I just discovered Ladies Pavilion in Central Park. The views of the lake and skyline are incredible, so now I take people there if they’re really into picture-taking”.

 

What I enjoy most about being a NYC tour guide is that I love the city and love America. I’m proud to show this place off to people who have only seen it in movies. I love defying the guide books (Don’t want to wait in a long line for the amazing views on top of the rock? I know a good rooftop bar nearby with incredible views. Want the best Italian American food? Little Italy in Manhattan is great, but I know a place in Brooklyn that makes you feel like you walked into a scene from the Godfather. Like being active? How about getting a $50 day-pass to Chelsea Piers, free kayaking on the Hudson, or a horseback riding tour at Kensington Stables in Prospect Park. I also love hearing from tourists that they thought New Yorkers were supposed to be rude, and they’re actually really friendly. Don’t even get me started on how visiting New York changes their perception of the typical American. 

 

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Damien at Bike and Roll further adds; “My favorite tour that Bike and Roll has to offer is the “Bike and Boat”. Starting out in New Amsterdam right into New York up to a Modern Marvel, the Brooklyn Bridge, then off to the boroughs first neighborhood “Brooklyn Heights”. Next, down to the Portofino of Brooklyn “DUMBO”, then to the hop on – hop off Water Taxi, making you feel like Henry on the Half Moon going up the Hudson. Lastly, hop off and pedal down the Greenway into our newest of land fills (like putting the cherry on top of the cake) Battery Park City! Wow what a tour!!”

 

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Managing a group of people on bicycles in a large urban setting takes attention to detail and strong leadership skills. While fun is the goal, safety is always the top priority.

 

Bike and Roll NYC President, Chris Wogas elaborates, “At Bike and Roll our tours are based on two pillars.  First, show off the greatest the city in the world.  Second, build each tour around knowledgeable guides, well-trained team-members and safety.  We understand that providing a great product must include delivering a safe product.  Whether it be providing helmets, creating first-class tour routes, continual equipment maintenance and upgrades, or ongoing team-member training; everything we do at Bike and Roll always has our guest’s enjoyment and safety top of mind.

 

Seeing New York by bike is an experience like no other – a must do event!  Seeing New York by bike with the best guides in the industry who continually provide a first-class, customer centered and safe product is truly a serendipitous experience and will be a lifelong memory”.

 

Wendy adds, The streets of New York are busy and have their dangers, like anywhere. The key for bike safety in New York is to bike in a predictable manner. That means that you stay in the bike lane, bike in the correct direction, and hold your position in traffic (no swerving!) when there is no bike lane. On Bike and Roll tours, we all wear helmets, always go over safety rules, and encourage our guests to bike in a predictable, self-aware way. One last tip: it is crucial that people do not bike side by side on the Greenway”!

 

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Bike and Roll NYC is a member of the Bike and Roll National Cooperative. Cooperative members have provided bicycle guide services and equipment rentals in five (5) major US cities for the past twenty-one (21) years. As a pioneer and leader in urban bicycle tours, Bike and Roll strives to set the standard nationwide for high quality and safe urban tour experiences.

 

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The New York City Waterfront, A World Class Bicycle Experience (Part Two)

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We are back with part two of my New York City Waterfront interview with co-founder of Bike and Roll, Darryll White.  In the second part of this interview, Darryll and I discuss the affects of Hurricane Sandy, how the waterfront is a destination with diverse experience options, and why biking is an important mode of transportation along the waterfront.

Liberty State Park

Liberty State Park

Q: Where is the Waterfront today?

The waterfront today has made incredible strides forward and is a fabulous place to visit, but I believe the current operative phrase could still be, “under construction”.  Hurricane Sandy hit the New York City waterfront very hard in October of 2012 and we are still trying to recover a year later.  Many beautiful waterfront parks such as The Battery, Riverside Park, East River Park along with Liberty State Park across the river, suffered damage that is still in the process of repair.

Additionally, South Street Seaport will undergo redevelopment beginning this fall, Governors Island is in the midst of new and significant construction, Staten Island is awaiting final approval of the New York Wheel*, Brooklyn Bridge Park continues towards completion and the Pier A project at Battery Park City is still underway.

The perception of the New York City waterfront as a destination is in a way “under construction” as well.  Even with its significant increase in visitors over the last decade, I think we’re just scratching the surface in terms of the waterfront’s potential as a destination.

Governors Island

Governors Island

Q: What is your overall vision for the New York City Waterfront as it relates to bicycle recreation and tourism?

I see the New York City waterfront as somewhat like an amusement park.  Once you’re there, you can pick and choose from a multitude of different things to do and can do so at your own pace.  The waterfront grants access and views to some of the top NYC icons.

There are also wonderful restaurants, museums and attractions located all along the waterfront such as Pier i Café, Chelsea Brewing Company, the Frying Pan, Boat Basin Café, Beekman Beer Garden, the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, the Irish Hunger Memorial, the National Museum of the American Indian, the NYC Police Museum and the Waterfront Museum.

Tour operators such as New York Water Taxi, Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises, Manhattan By Sail, and Helicopter Flight Services, to name a few along with our company, offer terrific tours and services to choose from.

As for how bikes fit in, I see a dual role. First, using a rental bike or your own bike to explore, or engaging one of our guided tours is simply a great way to spend a day. Additionally, the bike can also serve as transportation to and from the various waterfront destinations while connecting to boat transit at your leisure. With the absence of north-south mass transit along the waterfront, bikes and boats are by far the best way to navigate.

Today, much of the visitation to the waterfront is driven by interest in the individual destinations that reside along the rivers. In the future I look to people thinking more broadly about the waterfront as a whole, like they would with Times Square or Greenwich Village.

Q: What role do you see for Bike and Roll relative to the New York City Waterfront?

We will continue to build our products and events in connection with the waterfront while promoting it as a destination.  For instance, our “Bike the Brooklyn Bridge” product slogan was designed to represent the great day on a bicycle exploring the NYC waterfront that I described earlier in Part One of the interview. We promote this as one of our marquee products.  Our value added My Way Pass is a terrific feature that will enhance any biking experience along the waterfront and encourages our guests to get off their bikes en route and connect to all the waterfront has to offer – including the use of water transit to expand access and broaden the experience.

We are also advocates of the waterfront locally and in the tourism market.  We look forward to collaborating with our waterfront partners and neighbors in continuing efforts to market the waterfront as a destination. Bike and Roll also aims to bring further awareness to bicycling as a viable and primary means of transportation throughout the waterfront, as well as promoting cycling as a healthy, economical and fun way to enjoy one of New York City’s greatest resources.

The waterfront truly is an extraordinary destination.  I personally love going downtown to Battery Park and soaking in the stunning views.  Now it’s your turn to take a bike out to the waterfront and experience the beauty and all the many things to do for yourself!

Please feel free to share any comments about your own NYC waterfront experience.

* This interview was conducted in the late fall of 2013.  Since then, the New York Wheel has been approved!

 

The New York City Waterfront, A World Class Bicycle Experience (Part One)

By Nicole Mylonas

I sat down with Darryll White, co-founder of Bike and Roll, to discuss the New York City Waterfront.  In this two-part interview, you will learn about the incredible access that the waterfront grants to many New York City icons, what a great day along the waterfront looks like, why the waterfront is an important part of the NYC experience and how bicycling plays an important role.

Q: What motivated you to focus on the New York City Waterfront as a bicycling destination?

My first motivating factor was the NYC Greenway, which created the opportunity to offer a new, outstanding and safe bicycle experience in New York City.  Since the Greenway primarily resides along the waterfront it is natural for us to make the waterfront an area of focus.  A car free path goes a long way in terms of safety and the perception of safety.

While safety is foremost, our product experience is also very important. When I owned the Bike and Roll operation in San Francisco, our premiere and most successful product revolved around biking the scenic waterfront, across the Golden Gate Bridge and returning by ferryboat.  In New York City, the waterfront greenway allows for bicyclists to connect iconic sites such as the Brooklyn Bridge, the 9/11 Memorial, the Statue of Liberty, Governors Island, Staten Island Ferry, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and more, with proximate water-transit along the way .  Much like in San Francisco, people in NYC can bike the waterfront, ride on a famous bridge and return by boat.

Mayor Bloomberg’s vision, PlaNYC30, also motivated me to focus on the New York City waterfront as a bicycling destination.  The plan articulated a vision to connect the five boroughs and specifically mentioned use of water transit and increased use of bicycles.  By aligning our plan with that of the administration we were able to work in sync with an existing city initiative.

Q: How has the waterfront greenway helped change the perception of biking in New York City?

In the early 1990’s there was no bike path to speak of outside of Central Park and New York City was perceived by many as a dangerous place to ride. The addition of the waterfront greenway created a safe and significant network of paths to ride and as they say, if you build it, they will come.

The bike path also runs though many beautiful waterfront parks, which serve as a great place for residents and visitors alike to relax and enjoy the greenery, open sky and waterfront views while connecting with many great waterfront destinations. Thus, the Greenway has been integral in creating access to the waterfront.

The importance of the Greenway for biking in New York City cannot be overstated!

Q: Describe a great day on the New York City Waterfront.

Imagine a bike ride along the Hudson River, on a car-free Greenway, providing access to diverse neighborhoods, awesome iconic attractions, waterfront dining and connections to water transit that allow bikes easy access to all 5 boroughs of NYC.  A great day for me would be to create my own combination adventure on the fly, stopping as I pleased and exploring new spots along the way.  When hungry or when feeling like a change of pace, getting off the bike to sit somewhere and watch the world go by is a great option as well. There are so many terrific pit stops along the way.

Some of my favorite destinations include the picnic areas and the Boat Basin in Riverside Park, the Frying Pan and the Intrepid Museum in Hudson River Park, the Ice Cream Factory and Grimaldis in DUMBO the various concessions and skyline vantage points in Brooklyn Bridge Park, the bike path loop and Governors Beach Club on Governors Island and of course, the wooden plank bike path that crosses above the cars on the Brooklyn Bridge. 

Ferry connections can be made all along the bike path and I enjoy very much adding a boat trip, as it gets me off my saddle for a bit and also provides another vantage point, along with access to Governors Island and the NJ shoreline. NY Water Taxi and East River Ferry provide excellent and convenient service along both the Hudson and East Rivers.  For additional water tours I enjoy Manhattan by Sail and the Circle Line tours – both uptown and downtown.

After listening to that amazing description of a great day on the New York City Waterfront, I’m ready to hop on my bike right now!  The freedom of being able to hop on and hop off of the bike to enjoy museums, restaurants and parks sounds perfect.  I’m looking forward to more information as we continue this discussion in the near future.

(Read part two of this interview.)