Tag Archives: biking in New York City

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!

 

 

 

 

 

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 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.)

 

The Surprising Psychology of Driver Interaction with Cyclists

 

Pop quiz. Do you wear a helmet when you ride? Spandex or normal clothes? Are you female or male?

Though they may seem unrelated, your answers to those questions affect how much deference motorists give you when you set off down the street on a bicycle. That’s according to a number of studies outlined by Sam Ollinger on Network blog Bike San Diego.

A classic post from Traffic author Tom Vanderbilt on How We Drive, detailing the findings from a UK study on helmet use and motorist behavior, serves as the starting point:

In his study (published as “Drivers overtaking bicyclists: Objective data on the effects of riding position, helmet use, vehicle type and apparent gender,” in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention), [Ian] Walker outfitted a bike with a device that measured the distance of passing cars. He found, among other things, that drivers tended to pass more closely when he was wearing a helmet than when not (he was struck by vehicles twice, both while wearing a helmet).

New research has identified similar effects. Ollinger writes:

In a Florida DOT commissioned study [pdf] published last month, researchers reached a very similar conclusion. Although the study didn’t specifically address helmet usage, the researchers found that their data was consistent with Walker’s conclusions when it came to how closely drivers passed bicyclists based on the bicyclist’s gender and attire. The study found that on average, drivers passed cyclists more closely when cyclists were dressed in “bicycle attire” and if the cyclist was male. The study was unable to determine the reasons on this passing behavior and the authors of the study speculated that, “it [was] possible that motorists perceived less risk passing riders who were in [a] bicycle outfit.”

 

The gender factor, at least, appears to be noticeable to the general public. In fact, it has a name: the Mary Poppins Effect.

All of which raises the question, what’s a cyclist to do?

Ollinger says: “I suppose effective measures that can be made as a result of the Florida study would be to encourage cyclists to ride in casual clothing rather than bicycle-specific attire.” As for helmet usage, a cyclist is still probably safer with a protective shield over his or her skull, but it does seem to offer support for those who choose to go helmetless.

From StreetsBlog.org

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 07:57 AM PDT