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!