Bicycling in NYC has never been easier and safer. Many miles of marked and protected bike lanes have been added with more to come and people are finding it less daunting to pedal the mean streets of New York. One feature that many cyclists will enjoy is the “Greenway”. There are Greenways in all the boroughs, and all are worth exploring.
In Queens, the Greenway has been a work in progress with sections added and improved over time and it connects some of the borough’s largest parks. Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is the largest park in Queens and its flat terrain is easy for the whole family to ride. The lake is the largest lake in the city and there are many interesting sights to see. I like to go to the Marina on Flushing Bay, pedal along the Promenade and see the boats and the natural wetland areas with views of La Guardia Airport in the background.
The Greenway continues to the Queens Botanical Gardens and there are many nice things to see in the beautiful settings of the garden. Next, the path takes you to Kissena Park, another beautiful area with large shade trees and a lake. Another feature is the Velodrome, a curved bike track for racing. Follow the path to Cunningham Park and then to Alley Pond Park. The path uses sections of the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway which was the first paved highway in the US. Alley Pond Park has many large trees, ponds with birds and turtles and an environmental center.
Then, as you proceed north, the path goes along the Cross-Island Parkway and Little Neck Bay. Along the path is Bayside Marina wihich features a snack bar and provides a good place to rest before you proceed to Fort Totten where you’ll find plenty of historical features and great views of the water and also a public pool.
Another good easy flat ride is from Cross Bay Blvd; the bike path follows the Belt Parkway and hugs Jamaica Bay. A short distance away is New York’s newest state park, known as Shirley Chisholm State Park. It is a former dump and been restored with soil, tree and shrubs. The path to its highest point is a workout but offers great views of the city and the bay.
Continue west to Floyd Bennett Field which was NYC’s first municipal airport. The former airport has wide open flat areas as well as many natural areas. You’ll find easy riding for the whole family and there are also campgrounds. The next rest area as you proceed will be Canarsie Pier, featuring lots of benches, people fishing and food trucks. Next stop is Sheepshead Bay with all its fishing boats along the docks. Its waterfront restaurants provide a good place to stop for a breather.
A short distance away are Brighton Beach and Coney Island where there’s plenty to do and see and where you may enjoy a snack on the boardwalk. Ocean Parkway connects Coney Island to Prospect Park which was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux in 1894 with one of its features being the first bike path in the US. Prospect Park is a very scenic park with a few good hills to challenge the rider.
Continuing on the Belt Parkway the path goes past Bay Ridge, under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and has great views of the ships in the harbor.
Another gem that sits on the Brooklyn-Queens border is the Ridgewood Reservoir in Highland Park. It offers a nice path around the former reservoir basins and is now a nature preserve.
The section from Howard Beach to Rockaway passes thru the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and Broad Channel. Biking the Rockaway boardwalk is permitted during certain hours and it’s nice to combine a bike ride with a swim and a snack at one of the many stands.
A few tips before you go: Above all, you want to be safe. Wear clothing that is comfortable and if riding at night wear light colored or reflective materials. Always obey traffic rules, be a courteous biker and give pedestrians the right of way. Signal your intentions for drivers and don’t ride erratically. If you ride at night a white headlight and a red tail-light is NYS law. A bell or horn is also a NYS requirement. Helmets are recommended for adults and required for kids 14 and under. A tool kit and spare tubes is good to have as well as rain gear.
Beware of car doors opening unexpectedly, unaware pedestrians, dogs, potholes, glass, twigs, sewer grates and other defects that could send you tumbling. If you fall, you may get hurt.
Bike maps are free at your local bike shop or by calling 311.
Cycling is a great way to see places, get exercise and a good activity for friends and family to do together or for the rider to do solo. Stay safe and enjoy the ride.