10 mile beginner route
Starts in Williamsburg, ends in the Lower East Side.
B- Jack's Stir Brew Coffee
C- Piz-zetta Pizzeria
D- Jay and Water Street (Photo Op)
E- King Dumplings
F- Iggy's Keltic Lounge
Have you ever biked all three Brooklyn to Manhattan bridges in one day? I sure hadn't, but when Transportation Alternatives put out the call to ride over the 3 bridges in one day to support their Bridges 4 People Campaign, I decided it was time to get rolling for a good cause. If you want to stop by some local businesses in Brooklyn and Manhattan that support taking away space from cars on the bridges and giving it to cyclists and pedestrians, this is the route for you! This 10 mile route is great for beginners, on some relatively low stress streets. Besides the elevation on the bridges, this ride is totally doable for cyclists of all abilities.
The first stop on this route is Baglesmith on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg. I started at this location because it was the most convenient for me coming from Ridgewood, and seemed like a logical starting point for fueling up for the rest of the ride! This seems to be the only bagel location in this section of Williamsburg, so be prepared to wait in a little bit of a line. I would recommend grabbing a bagel here and waiting for the next stop in Manhattan for your coffee (I was pretty underwhelmed by their iced coffee). After fueling up, you have the option of walking down the open street on Berry Street over to Domino Park to check out the waterfront view of all three bridges. As you look upon the bridges, I suggest contemplating how much better life would be if cyclists and pedestrians had a dedicated lane on these 3 East River crossings. It also seconds as a great photo op (and thirds as a good place to use the bathroom).
After spending some time contemplating why cars get so much space in our fair city, time to bike over the Williamsburg Bridge and head to your next destination in Manhattan. The next spot on the Bridges 2 Food Tour was Jack's Stir Brew in TriBeCa (there are a few locations to choose from, but this was the one selected for the tour!). It's a pretty straight shot over there from the Williamsburg Bridge, from Clinton Street to East Broadway, through Foley Square (where you can check out the new Black Lives Matter mural if you haven't seen it yet), and then over to Reade Street. I was heading over from Williamsburg at around 10:30 am, and the streets were relatively free of cars, which definitely made for an enjoyable cycling experience. If you do this route on a Saturday like I did, you can also stop by the farmers market at Washington Market Park and grab a few more snacks to enjoy. I picked up some apple cider donuts and apple cider from one of the stands and sat and watched the many children playing in Washington Market Park for a bit (this park also has nice clean bathrooms to use). This rest plus cold brew experience was a great way to get some energy for the rest of the ride (2 more bridges and 3 locations to go). From the park, you can just head down Chambers Street and its a pretty straight shot to the Brooklyn Bridge. I usually dread taking the Brooklyn Bridge during peak tourist season, but seeing as there aren't that many tourists visiting New York this year, I would say go ahead and take advantage of New York's most iconic bridge! I did find that the Brooklyn Bridge was still pretty crowded, but nothing close to the life endangering crowding that is usually happening on a typical day during the warmer months. While all three of these Manhattan-Brooklyn connecting bridges are contendors for more space, the Brooklyn Bridge definitely takes the cake as one that should have been re-imagined years ago. (FWIW, advocates have been trying to push DOT to reimagine it for many, many years to no avail. Check out this piece from Van Alen on the most recent competition to create a new vision for the bridge.)
After you've crushed 2 out of 3 bridges, head over to Piz-zetta Pizzeria and treat yourself to a slice. I would say, the pizza tasted even better knowing that it was coming from a business that supports more space for people on the bridges! If you are trying to take this ride at a leisurely pace, I recommend riding over to Dumbo to catch some more bridge views from Brooklyn Bridge Park, and to take some pictures at the iconic Washington Street and Water Street intersection, where there are both great views of the Manhattan Bridge and of people taking glamour shots of themselves in front of the Manhattan Bridge. This location was also featured in the 1984 film Once Upon a Time in America, check out that link if you want a glimpse of what 1964 Dumbo looked like. There are also a few Open Streets and Open Restaurant Streets in Dumbo that are cool to walk around, and if you are in need of another bathroom stop, there are some nice ones at Empire Stores. If you head up to the top of the mall, you will also find another great place to catch a view of the East River Bridges.
Next stop is back in Manhattan, so gear up to ride the Manhattan Bridge! The Manhattan Bridge isn't very steep, making it a great choice for your last ascent. However, the Manhattan Bridge is a close second behind the Brooklyn Bridge for the lack of space for cyclists and pedestrians. On this bridge, both alternative transit users only have one narrow lane to traverse both ways, which is an absolute travesty in this day and age, especially during the on-going pandemic. The East River bridges are seeing some of the highest numbers of cyclist crossings at the moment, and the day of this ride (September 12, 2020) CitiBike hit its all time high of riders. I was actually rider 4,000 over the Manhattan Bridge that day (thank you NYC DOT bike counter for the intel). When you ride over this bridge to King Dumplings, take note of your experience and write to those electeds! King Dumplings is close by after you depart from the bridge, just a quick ride down Canal and Allen St (with a lovely protected bicycle lane) to Hester Street. Take your dumplings to go and enjoy them in the Allen Street mall, and then hop back on your bike to your final destination- Iggy's Keltic Lounge located on Ludlow Street. Ludlow Street is currently operating as an Open Restaurant Street, so you get to enjoy your outdoor beer with less car traffic!
You've completed your 3 bridges, 5 food stops tour! I really enjoyed this ride, it was a relaxing way to spend a Saturday in support of a good cause. Make sure to also sign the Bridges 4 People petition, to demand more space for cyclists and pedestrians on these 3 East River crossings!
Hi! I'm Rachel.
I'm creating curated bike routes in all 5 boroughs of NYC. Routes include downloadable route map, descriptions of the bicycle infrastructure, and suggestions on places to eat and things to see. Enjoy!