Accessible Biking in NYC

The Slatin Group

Want to go for a bike ride in Central Park or across the Brooklyn Bridge, but somehow forgot to pack a tandem or hand cycle with the rest of your luggage? Don’t fret! Bike Rent NYC, an umbrella organization of bike concessionaires that works in concert with the New York City Parks Department, has a stable of increasingly popular tandems stashed at its dozen store locations and rental kiosks around Manhattan. Bike Rent NYC also has a few hand cycles for rent by riders with mobility impairments.

Courtesy, Bike Rent NYC

In recent years, New York City has worked hard to prove that it is bicycle-friendly. The City introduced Citi Bike, a wildly successful bike-share program, and created long stretches of protected bike lanes on major avenues, as well as a bike path that now runs all the way along the Hudson and East Rivers. The course of the latter takes riders around the northern and southern tips of Manhattan, affording spectacular views of New York Harbor and waterways. Even a short segment of this 31-mile island-circling ride will yield a host of wonderful attractions and scenery, including South Street Seaport, Battery Park, Chelsea Piers, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and The Met Cloisters up in Fort Tryon Park. Bike Rent NYC has kiosks and stores dotted around Central Park but also in Lower Manhattan and as far north as 167th Street.

Photo: Brittany Petronella

The availability of tandems and hand cycles showcases a changing cycling culture for those visitors who might previously have had a difficult time arranging for special recreational bikes. The Bike Rent NYC fleet also includes one electric bike for those who may not be fully able to power a cycle on their own; if you'd like to use it, reserve in advance. Bike Rent NYC marketing director Joe Camerota can’t give an exact number of tandems the group offers from among its 4,000 rental bikes—half of which are recycled out of the program every year—but during a phone conversation from one of the group’s stores, he counted at least 20 two-seaters waiting patiently to roll out. “They get a lot of use at every store,” he says. “Blind and sighted riders alike just want to go for a ride with someone on the same bike.” In other words, you might not need to call ahead to reserve a tandem, but it’s not a bad idea. Definitely do so to locate and reserve a hand cycle. Camerota says his team will attempt to bring one of these bikes to you if you can’t make it to a specific location. If you are new to tandem cycling, however, you might ask if you can try out your teamwork near the store before venturing farther afield. It can be tricky at first to coordinate timing for starts and stops, and Bike Rent NYC will not provide a captain (the person who sits on the front seat and steers the bike).

Courtesy, Bike Rent NYC

Of course, rentals also include helmets and other accessories, such as gloves. They are priced on an hourly basis, with rates ranging from $13.50 for a one-hour stint on a standard bike to $62 for a 24-hour rental. Bikes for children under 12 are slightly cheaper, from $11 per hour to $40 for overnight. The company also offers mountain and road bikes starting at $30 an hour to $80 for the day. You can rent a child seat or trailer for that full family cycling experience. Tandems start at $27 per hour and the hand cycles start at $30, but neither is available for overnight rental, according to the website. Riders can purchase a special pass that allows them to drop their bike at any Bike Rent NYC outlet rather than returning it to the pickup location.

If you want to explore Central Park, sign up for one of the four-times-daily guided tours, which kick off from the main store at 203 W. 58th St., just west of Seventh Avenue and short ride to the park. These tours typically last two hours, as do guided tours across the Brooklyn Bridge. The latter rides begin at 145 Nassau St., in the heart of downtown Manhattan’s Financial District. Walking tours of Central Park and Brooklyn Bridge are also available. There are group rates for the tours and for unguided bike rental as well.

For a comprehensive list of locations, plus pricing and news about other Bike Rent NYC offerings such as guided tours, gift packages and memberships, visit