by Christina Parrella, 07/24/2013
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At one time, biking in New York City seemed daunting. The feat was undertaken either by a select number of daily commuters or by the weekend biker happy to enjoy human-powered cycling along a scarce number of bike paths. Today NYC is eminently bike-friendly, boasting over 700 miles of bike paths and—with the recent addition of thousands of Citi Bikes all over Manhattan and Brooklyn—even more vehicles to go around.
The Citi Bike program, run by NYC Bike Share, offers bicyclists three options: a 24-hour pass, a seven-day pass or an annual membership, with prices ranging from $9.95 for a day pass to $95 (plus tax) for the year. The bike share system is easy to use. Purchase your pass from a Citi Bike station kiosk with your credit card (check the station map for availability). You'll then be given a one-time-use ride code to unlock a bike for unlimited 30-minute rides (45 minutes for annual pass holders). Bikes need to be returned to another station within that time period to avoid overtime charges. Once you dock your bike, you'll get a new ride code and bike for subsequent trips.
Since time is limited—as is summer—we've crafted a list of short 30-minute trips for bicyclists looking to make the most of their Citi Bike jaunts.
Note: All riders must be at least 16 years old to rent a Citi Bike and are strongly advised to wear helmets. (Find out how to be fitted at nyc.gov.)
The Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the most iconic landmarks in NYC for a reason. The bridge, with its expansive views of the City skyline, not only provides a backdrop for striking photographs, but it also has a mile-long path for both leisurely walks and bike rides. There are two Citi Bike stations near the bridge on the Manhattan side, located at the intersection of Centre Street and Chambers Street and at the intersection of Spruce Street and Nassau Street. From either location, you can access the nearby Brooklyn Bridge Promenade, just across from the east side of City Hall Park. The ride across the bridge takes an estimated 10 to 15 minutes depending on your speed, and the bridge itself gets a lot of foot traffic, so you'll need to be mindful of pedestrians. Once you're on the Brooklyn side of the bridge, you can ride over to Brooklyn Bridge Park via Old Fulton Street or, if you ride into Brooklyn Heights, from Joralemon Street. If you've run out of time, you can dock your bike at the Clinton Street and Joralemon Street station or at Atlantic Avenue and Furman Street, which also happens to be where Pier 6 is located. A two-way bike lane connects Pier 1 to Pier 6, and the ride offers bicyclists great views of the skyline as well as opportunities to stop and enjoy the playgrounds, a pop-up pool and comfortable lawns. For bikers who find themselves hungry after a ride over the bridge, a visit to Grimaldi's Pizzeria will be immensely satisfying. The world-famous eatery is located under the bridge near Old Fulton Street, where there's a Citi Bike docking station, just a short block from the north end of Pier 1.
Located in the heart of Manhattan, Central Park offers beautiful greenery, recreational activities and bicycling paths with varying degrees of difficulty. Pick up a Citi Bike from the station at Grand Army Plaza and Central Park South (by Fifth Avenue and 59th Street) and head north on East Drive's bicycle lane. It's important to remember that motor vehicles also travel on these roads (except during car-free hours), so be particularly cautious while you're riding. As you pedal along East Drive, you can stop to take in some of the park's landmarks, such as the iconic Bethesda Fountain (located off Terrace Drive, which veers west from East Drive) or Conservatory Water and the nearby Alice in Wonderland statue (both of which are just east of East Drive, parallel with 74th and 75th Streets). After a quick stop, you can turn around and head back to Terrace Drive, which veers off the main thoroughfare south of Conservatory Water, and travel toward the west side of the park where Strawberry Fields and the Imagine Mosaic are located. Since you don't want to exceed your 30-minute limit, you may want to ride down West Drive and dock your bike at the Broadway and West 60th Street Citi Bike location. Once you check in the bicycle, you can take out another for a trip back up West Drive to Belvedere Castle, a Gothic-style castle in the heart of the park (just below mid-park at 79th Street). From the castle's lookouts, you'll get stunning views of the green space and its surrounding cityscape. Ride south down the west side of the park via West Drive to dock your bike back at the Broadway and West 60th Street station.
With distinctive areas including the South Street Seaport, Battery Park and the Financial District, Lower Manhattan is an oasis packed with restaurants, shops, museums and recreational options. Pick up a bike at the station on Cliff Street and Fulton Street and ride east along Fulton Street underneath the FDR Drive to explore the must-see sights at South Street Seaport, including the three-level shopping mecca at Pier 17. If you plan on staying awhile—and you should, if you want to take in the sweeping riverside views—dock your bike at the nearby Front Street and Maiden Lane station. Once you've explored South Street Seaport, take a 10-minute bike ride down South Street to Lower Manhattan's largest public open space, Battery Park. Dock your bike at the Broadway and Battery Place station near the entrance to this 25-acre waterfront park, also home to beautiful gardens and the Castle Clinton National Monument. After taking in the sights, head back north and east toward the South Street Seaport and cool off with a beverage at the outdoor Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club.
Hudson River Park Bikeway
From Battery Place up to 59th Street, bicyclists can enjoy a sprawling stretch of uninterrupted riding along the Hudson River. For this route, pick up a bike at Broadway and Battery Place and head north. Along the way, you'll have numerous opportunities to sit back and enjoy views of the river, or you can visit one of Hudson River Park's public piers. The 550-acre waterfront park offers a wide range of recreational activities, including outdoor baseball, tennis, beach volleyball and even a flying trapeze program for the brave. Biking the entire stretch to 59th Street takes about a half hour, so if you stop to bask in some outdoor fun, you'll want to dock your bike along the route. Beach volleyball, the Tribeca skatepark and a basketball court are all located at Pier 25; the Citi Bike station closest to that is located at Greenwich Street and North Moore Street. Farther up the Hudson are options for on-the-water fun. Pier 40 (located at West Houston and Clarkson) offers kayaking and rowing in addition to a soccer field available for public use. The station at West Houston and Hudson Streets is nearby. If you're looking for both indoor and outdoor recreation Chelsea Piers offers a field house, golf center, sailing classes and rock climbing. A bike station is conveniently located outside the complex at West 22nd Street and Eleventh Avenue.
Midtown Lunch Ride
The hustle and bustle that characterizes New York City is usually in evidence in the Midtown area, particularly during weekdays. In just a few short (and very busy) blocks, you'll find some of the City's influential media organizations (among them, The New York Times, Reuters, Condé Nast and Viacom), iconic buildings and greatest attractions, such as Times Square and the Great White Way. And although Midtown is considered the center of the action, it's equally pleasant to have a lunchtime visit in a quieter neighborhood. The Flatiron District offers that counterpoint, embodying the City's vibrancy in a more relaxed setting and giving your bike itinerary a destination. Depending on your starting location in Midtown, a ride down to the Flatiron District will take approximately 10 to 15 minutes. There are dozens of bike stations throughout Midtown, but we suggest picking up a bike from one of the several on Broadway since the street provides the safest bike lane option for riders. Once you get to the Flatiron District (the boundaries stretch from 20th to 26th Street and from Sixth Avenue to Park Avenue South), there are many options for dining and for docking your bike. If you have a hankering for barbecue, Blue Smoke offers dine-in and takeout options. For refreshing takes on the traditional sandwich—featuring locally sourced ingredients—try No.7 Sub. Artisanal pasta, sandwich and seafood options are available at Eataly, and its rooftop restaurant/beer garden, Birreria, provides a delicious reprieve during the warmer months. And you can enjoy outdoor dining at the quaint Madison Square Park, which boasts art installations, a playground and even free WiFi. The connection will be helpful to while away the time if you plan on waiting for the much-in-demand all-American lunch at Shake Shack. To head back uptown—to work or other sightseeing activities—pick up a bike at the East 24th Street and Park Avenue South station.