Tag Archives: biking

Riding where there are no cars . . . in NYC

Stopping by the Intrepid Museum while riding along the traffic-free Hudson River Greenway

Biking in New York City may strike the uninitiated as a battle involving taxicabs, delivery trucks, and lots of pedestrians.  Let me fill you in on a little secret:  it’s not.

New York City offers incredible bike rides along famous waterways to some of the most gorgeous parks imaginable.  Cars?  No, these are traffic-free greenways.  Pedestrians?  No, they have their own designated walkways.

You can ride traffic-free along the Hudson River on the Hudson River Greenway from the southern tip of Manhattan at Battery Park all the way to the northern end at Inwood Park.  Along the way you’ll see Governors Island, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty; you’ll ride past piers with giant cruise ships and boat marinas filled with yachts; you’ll see tennis courts, picnic areas, basketball courts, and playgrounds; rest on a lawn, under a gazebo, by a sculpture garden; you’ll cruise by an aircraft carrier and a submarine;  you’ll even pass through cool, green woods and cruise by a little beach.  You’ll ride under the majestic George Washington Bridge.

On the other side of Manhattan, you can ride down the East River Esplanade, under the Williamsburg Bridge and south to the Manhattan Bridge where you cross over into Brooklyn and Brooklyn Bridge Park.  Brooklyn Bridge Park is a green gem that extends from the Manhattan Bridge past the Brooklyn Bridge with a bike path that stretches all the way along the Brooklyn side of New York Harbor to Sunset Park.  DUMBO (an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge) is one of New York’s newest neighborhoods and is full of art galleries and restaurants and fascinating renovations of old industrial buildings.  Many streets are still cobble-stoned.

When you’re done exploring the park and its surroundings, it’s easy to cross back to Manhattan on the Brooklyn Bridge.  I always think that the view from the Bridge heading west back to the city is amazing.  The skyscrapers loom up as you approach.  Very dramatic.  And, again, on the Manhattan side, there’s a bikepath that takes you south along the East River and links you up again with the Hudson River Greenway.

And we haven’t even talked about biking Central Park.  Most of its roads are closed to traffic throughout the day.  That’s another story.

Exploring New York City by bike and without cars?  It’s easy.  Bike and Roll NYC’s 11 locations let you pick up a bike wherever you want to start – in Battery Park, at Pier 84, or at West Harlem Piers on the Hudson River Greenway, in East River Park on the esplanade, or start out in Brooklyn at Bike and Roll NYC’s location in Brooklyn Bridge Park, just to name a few.

When we do blog about the joys of exploring Central Park by bike, we’ll mention our two locations there.



A Walk on the Lonely Side


“It’s a nice little slog to get up there,” Richard Melnick said. “Just like why people climb mountains.”

With that, he went up the concrete stairs, leading the way to something most New Yorkers think of as a horizontal landmark, not a vertical one: the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge. Of course, that was not the name on his lips — aficionados like Mr. Melnick still call it the Triborough Bridge. More about that later.

Yes, you can walk the R.F.K., one of the legacies of Robert Moses, who gave New York a labyrinth of bridges and parkways. Monday was the 75th anniversary of the day the first car paid the first toll, collected after a ceremony that was attended by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a motorcade that featured 14 cars and 35 police motorcycles.

Some accounts said that the first ordinary person who actually made it to the tollbooths was a boy on a bicycle. Nowadays, signs are posted saying bike riders are prohibited, and advising: “Walk bicycles across bridge.”

made his way across. All were pedaling, or braking, hard. The Queens stretch of the bridge that he covered on foot includes a quarter-mile or so that he said was “one of the toughest inclines anywhere.”

Mr. Melnick is, among other things, a licensed tour guide. He is also on the board of the Greater Astoria Historical Society and he was trailed by organization’s executive director, Robert S. Singleton (“ ‘Bob’ on this side of the East River,” he said). Mr. Singleton was busy over the weekend helping to open a photography exhibit at the society’s Quinn Gallery on Broadway in Long Island City — he said he had walked the Triborough only once before, in the 1980s.

Mr. Melnick said he had walked the bridge “maybe 50 or 60 times, and I’m still enthralled by it; the view is that great.”

Others have been similarly mesmerized over the years — the architect Lewis Mumford said the bridge had “one of the most dazzling urban views in the world.” But somehow the Triborough never acquired a personality. New Yorkers are charmed by the Brooklyn Bridge or intrigued by the Verrazano-Narrows. But for generations, the Triborough has been little more than the first leg in a getaway, to the airport or to Long Island.

“I had friends come in from Wisconsin,” Mr. Melnick said. “They wanted to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. I said, ‘That’s too touristy.’ ”

Walking across the R.F.K. is not as easy as walking across those other bridges. “It just doesn’t lend itself to walking,” Mr. Singleton said. Walking from Queens to, say, Manhattan means leaving one bridge where the walkway ends on Wards Island and finding the way to another walkway — and another span — leading to Manhattan.

Mr. Melnick said that means the R.F.K. is less than popular with walkers and pedal-pushers. “I ride my bicycle to and from work — I’m a night doorman in the city,” he said. “I passed 88 people on the Queensboro Bridge” one morning last week. “Friday morning, I went from Manhattan to Randalls Island. Then I took the main span to Astoria. I saw one person the whole time.”

The walkway puts pedestrians close to traffic and, Mr. Melnick said, danger. There is a shoulder-high barrier, a concrete wall. “Once, when I was a better runner, I was up here and I heard ‘tink, tink, tink,’ ” he said. “There was a bouncing hubcap rolling along the wall to my left. It was going 60 miles an hour.”

Monday’s walk took a little less than two hours. Forty-seven minutes into it, somewhere between the two giant towers of the suspension span from Queens, the matter of the name came up. In 2008, Gov. David A. Paterson renamed what had been the Triborough Bridge in honor of Robert F. Kennedy, who was a United States Senator from New York from 1965 until his assassination in 1968.

Mr. Melnick was diplomatic. “We’re not all in agreement with the renaming,” he said.

Then he described a brush with greatness. It happened a few months after the Triborough became the R.F.K., when he went to a Jets-49ers game on the West Coast.

In the airport in California, he saw Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and introduced himself.

“I did not have the guts to object,” he said. “I chickened out. He could have yelled out ‘Security,’ and I’m tackled in an airport and my personal friends would have seen me arrested.”

“But I do have it on my personal list: I shook his hand.”