7 mile beginner route
Starts and ends in Ridgewood, Queens.
A- Rudy's Bakery and Cafe
B- Houdini's Gravesite - Machpelah Cemetery
C- Ridgewood Reservoir
D- Piet Mondrian's Gravesite - Cypress Hills Cemetery
E- Evil Twin Brewery
Daylight savings time is here, and with it comes shorter days and colder weather that make it difficult for even the most dedicated cyclist to want to head outside. However, shorter days also offer opportunities to create adventures discovering this city’s hidden treasures by bike. On the day that I headed off to explore the Ridgewood Reservoir and to search for the gravesites of Houdini and Piet Mondrian it was overcast and threatening to rain, but that didn’t dampen my spirits (nor theirs). While winding my way through the leaf-covered paths that overlook the 160-year-old reservoir and meandering through the ‘Cemetery Belt’ between Brooklyn and Queens, I realized bike exploration doesn’t always have to involve many miles, especially in a city dotted with bicycle accessible gems. This route includes a delectable breakfast sandwich spot, picturesque views, some cemetery trodding, and ends with a cold one of my favorite breweries in the city. Two wheels, a map, and maybe a raincoat are all you need to have some fun in this city, so hop in the saddle early to catch some light and enjoy this bike adventure in Ridgewood!
16 mile intermediate route
Starts at Grand Army Plaza and ends in Cobble Hill.
A- Grand Army Plaza
B- Di Fara Pizza
C- J & V Pizza
D- Nino's Pizza
E- Luigi's Pizza
F- Bar Great Harry
Every New Yorker has their idea of the best slice. One of my friends abides by the doctrine that the best slice is the one closest to your apartment. Mel Brooks famously claimed that even bad pizza was good pizza. And while when hunger strikes or just a craving for some cheesy goodness the best slice might just be the one closest to you, there are definitely some slices worth going out of your way for. I brought together some of my most discerning bike riding friends to get to the bottom of the question- where is the ultimate NY slice? This ride had its limitations in finding the ultimate slice, mostly that we were constrained by our mileage, but ultimately the largest downfall was our stomachs. Turns out that even for the greatest pizza lover, eating 5 slices in close proximity to each other is not for the faint of stomach! Originally, this route featured 5 pizza shops, but our last location was mercifully closed to everyone's universal relief. So save yourself some carbs and only do 4 shops, because you'll need room for beer (and a government-mandated Cuomo sandwich) at the last location. Come with an empty stomach and full tires, because this route is gonna fill you up and burn some rubber!
Grand Army Plaza is the starting location for this route, and if you happen to come on a Saturday I recommend stashing your bike and checking out the farmer's market while you invariably wait for one of your friends to arrive. Once we had gathered our crew, it was off on the Prospect Park Loop where we got to enjoy the fall foliage and the car free streets. Whenever I ride the Prospect Park loop, I thank the activists before me who fought tirelessly to get cars out of our parks. It is because of their years of work we are now able to enjoy a truly public space. More about our other great and now car-free park here.
15 mile intermediate route
Starts in the West Village, Manhattan ends in Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx.
A- Christoper Street (to start your ride)
B- The Little Red Lighthouse
C- The Hudson
D- Van Cortlandt Park
E- Old Putnam Trail entrance
This route is all about riding! I, like many a bike infrastructure nerd, was super excited to hear about the Old Putnam trail in Van Cortlandt Park re-opening with fresh pavement. The Old Putnam trail starts in Van Cortlandt Park, and is a great connector for biking upstate as it links directly to the South County Trail and then to the North County Trail, the majority of which are completely separated from cars. This trail is such a gem, and the re-paving has made it a super user-friendly path and a generally much more enjoybale riding experience. Before, there was a good portion of it that was mostly a gravel/dirt combination that was pretty unpleasant to ride on, and even more unpleasant when you are riding home in the dark and everyone forgot their bike lights (yes, this may have happened to me..and no, it was not fun)! I went up there the weekend that it was reopened to check it out and I definitely recommend giving it a go, even if you just ride to the end of the trail and back, which is what I did!
This route begins in the West Village, but you can easily take the entrance to the Hudson River Greenway that is most convenient for you. I suggested meeting around Christopher Street if you want a good central meeting location that will take you right to an entrance to the Greenway, but there are plenty of entrances further up depending on where you are coming from. Once you are on the greenway, it's a pretty straightforward ride, just keep following the path! There are a few jogs to watch out for here and there, but the signage on the greenway is well-done so it is clear where you should be headed as a cyclist.
5 mile intro route
Starts in Ridgewood, Queens, ends in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
A- OPC (Other People's Clothes)
B- FEELS Vintage, Vinyl, Home
C- 28 Scott
D- Known To Man
E- Home Union
G- Awoke Vintage
H-Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
Did you know that bikes mean business? This 5-mile intro route is great for a biking newbie! Designed with lots of stops and on all relatively low-stress streets, this route will take you around Ridgewood, into Bushwick, and end in Williamsburg. Along the route, you will have ample opportunity to score some great deals on cute vintage. Think you can't go shopping on a bike? Think again! It's easy enough to use your bike for a full day of shopping transportation if you have the right equipment, and it doesn't have to be anything fancy.
Options for carrying things on your bike:
A rack is a great investment for transporting goods on your bike. Once you install a rack on your bike, a world of options for carrying things opens up. A rack also takes the weight off your back and makes it possible to do things like buy groceries on your bike and go bike camping. It is amazing the amount of weight that you can put on a bike rack and still have a pretty seamless ride.
I use this canvas pannier from Hill and Ellis on everyday trips. It's great because it has internal pockets and a detachable strap for carrying, and even lets you zip up the attachment components so they aren't jamming into you when you carry it around. I also have Ortlieb waterproof panniers, which I find are great for longer rides and not as great for taking on and off your bike and carrying around the city (and the perpetrator of the aforementioned jamming). However, friends of mine have just attached milk crates to their back racks, which is an option if you want the carrying capacity without spending any money on panniers.
If you don't want to invest in a bike rack quite yet, there is always the backpack option. For the shopping I did on this route, I just used my everyday backpack, and it worked just fine for holding my vintage duds. It just depends on the amount of weight you foresee yourself carrying on a regular basis, but once you start using your bike for light shopping you might find you want to start using your bike for grocery runs and make the investment in a rack. My rack is from Ortlieb and has held up amazingly over the years.
The first stop on this route is a buy/sell/trade consignment and thrift store, OPC, Other People’s Clothes. This shop opened recently and is the second store location for a local Ridgewood couple. Their first shop location FEELS is a long time favorite of mine, so I was very excited to see OPC open during the pandemic. It's definitely worth a visit as they have an amazing selection of clothes for everyone, including coats, pants, shirts, dresses, and shoes all at super reasonable prices (and even better yet, free, if you bring in some clothes to trade!). I was excited to score a 100% wool Pendleton button down to use as a winter layer for when I'm on colder weather rides and a bright blue FILA windbreaker for those in-between biking days. The store is located on Woodward Avenue, which is one lane and has a bike lane, making it a relatively low-stress street, but also one that seems ripe for pedestrian improvements. As my friends were walking to get to OPC from our coffee and sandwiches at Porcelain, we were nearly taken out by a car driver cutting a fast turn from Catalpa Avenue, a phenomenon that shop owner Pat says he sees happen often. This location seems like a great contender for traffic calming measures such as bulb-outs (extra sidewalk that juts into the street and gives greater visibility to pedestrians), or potentially even a whole Open Street treatment.
Since we had all locked our bikes up around OPC, we decided to walk over to the second spot on the list, FEELS Vinyl Vintage Home shop on 71st and Myrtle. FEELS is an adorable shop with a great selection of carefully curated vintage, as well as the home to the creations of many local residents, such as rugs, art, ceramics, tie-dye, and others! It always amazes me how much they can fit into their location without it ever feeling overwhelming. While I was there I picked up a silk-screened t-shirt where 50% of proceeds are going to fight voter suppression. Thrifting for a good cause! (FEELS below)
27 mile intermediate route
Starts and ends in Ridgewood, Queens.
B- Martha's Country Bakery
C- Queens County Farm Museum
D- Finback Brewery
Looking for some fall fun in NYC that you can bike to? Look no further than this 27 mile intermediate route through Eastern Queens to the Queens County Farm Museum located in Floral Park, NY. You will spend the day surrounded by farm animals, fall foliage, and have the opportunity to enter (and hopefully leave) New York City's one and only corn maze! This is a pretty low-stress ride, though it does have some elevation and some higher stress roads with multi-lane traffic that makes it more appropriate for an intermediate rider (or a group of beginners, power in numbers!). The real highlight of this route is the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, a paved path completely separated from cars that runs through Cunningham Park and Alley Pond Park. If you travel this path later in the season, it will be great for doing some leaf peeping!
This route starts off in Ridgewood, and while I have been trying to vary the starting locations of these routes so they don't all end up in my neighborhood, it seems Ridgewood is a relatively good starting location for venturing off into Eastern Queens when you are meeting up with Brooklynites. If you are coming from one of the three other boroughs, feel free to hop on the train and get off at the Forest M stop, the closest train stop to your first destination. Since this is a long ride, I needed to start off caffeinated and with a snack in hand. My go-to place in Ridgewood is our one of our local cafes, Porcelain. Porcelain has great coffee, snacks, and a great outdoor seating setup if you are planning to stick around for a bit. Once you've fueled up, it's off to the second stop!
The first part of this route involves a bit of meandering through Ridgewood and Glendale, and I will be honest, my group got a bit lost trying to make it over to Forest Hills! It can be a bit confusing with the Queens way of displaying road names where the same number is repeated multiple times with different signifiers after it (think Place, Lane, Road, Street, Drive..) This can become especially confusing if you have only looked at the directions once or twice and are going quickly on a bicycle, so just watch out to make sure you are making the correct turn. This stretch of the route is not the most cyclist friendly, though most of the streets were residential with no bike lane, the rest were a bit higher traffic with only with a painted bike lane. Once you arrive in Forest Hills, I recommend checking out Martha's Country Bakery, a bakery that was started in Forest Hills and since grown to other locations in Brooklyn and Queens. It was cool to check the original location since I had only been to their one in Williamsburg previously. There was a long line but it moved quickly, and their cases were filled with all sorts of delicious looking baked goods. It was also fun to check out the area surrounding the Forest Hills train station. The red cobblestone and the brick buildings with the peaked red tile roofs definitely gave me small European village vibes, and the cobblestone roundabout appeared to work as a car/pedestrian mixing zone. I would love to see more of these mixed zone treatments in other places in NYC.
13 mile beginner route
Starts and ends in Midtown Manhattan.
B- The Museum of Modern Art
C- Central Park Model Boat Sailing
D- La Fonda Boricua
E- Crack is Wack Playground
F- Sugar Monk
H- Columbus Circle
I checked another biking first off the list with this ride, it was my first time riding the complete Central Park loop! This route is great for someone looking for a slower paced ride with fun cultural stops sprinkled in, as well as some delicious food and drink options!
I recommend starting off at Ess-a-Bagel, a bagel shop first established in 1976. This bagel shop has a ton of positive reviews, and I was really looking forward to checking it out, but I made the mistake of attempting to visit on the weekend of Rosh Hashanah and they were closed! Still in search of a morning bagel I biked down to Zucker's Bagels and Smoked Fish at 370 Lexington, which looked equally promising for bagel deliciousness, but was definitely not an efficient way to get a quick breakfast. I waited in line for around 30 minutes before I realized that there was no way that I would be able to order and eat a bagel before my timed tickets at the MoMa, so it was a very sad egg and cheese from the deli across the street for me. Please learn from this bagel tale of woe! Ess-a-Bagel still seems like the best choice for a morning bagel near MoMa, I would just allow for more time than you think is necessary for those long lines and make sure you check to see if they will be closed on any important Jewish holidays.
After my breakfast flop it was time to head to the MoMa. I was lucky enough to snag a free timed ticket to the recently reopened MoMa, which is currently operating at 25% capacity. The tickets are free for the month of September, and if there was ever a time to enjoy one of New York's excellent museums it is now. With limited capacity entry at the MoMa (and most museums now), it is easier to go at a leisurely pace and enjoy the art. There wasn't a line when I got right before 12 (my timed ticket was for 11:30 but I was late due to the bagel fiasco. Thankfully the window is for 30 minutes.) Upon entering they scanned my forehead for my temperature and then let me right in. It was a little awkward going through the temperature check and security, but once I passed that section the experience felt pretty much like a regular day at a museum, just much less crowded. I haven't made it to the MoMa since they did the re-design, so it was my first time checking out the new space and the updated curation of the exhibits. I checked out the Donald Judd exhibition, and went through the majority of the newly curated regular exhibits. I enjoyed the new curation, each room is designed around a theme or a particular artist, with some unexpected twists. In Picasso's room, there was an re-imagining of Guernica by Faith Ringgold entitled "American People Series #20: Die" that really stood out to me, one for it's striking composition and depiction of the race riots of the 1960s, but also for it's inclusion in the room of an artist that is both extremely well known and widely accepted. I recommend checking out the new MoMa, to enjoy the new space but also to appreciate the thought that is behind the new exhibits.
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).
35 mile intermediate route (includes ferry ride)
Starts in Lower Manhattan ends at the Sandy Hook Beach ferry terminal.
A- Battery Maritime Building Slip 5
B- Seastreak Ferry Terminal at Highlands
C- Asbury Park Beach
D- Silverball Arcade Museum
E- Asbury Festhall & Biergarten
F- Cardinal Provisions
G- Battery Potter
H- Sandy Hook Ferry Terminal
Looking for a respite from city life? Take a quick 35 minute ferry ride over to Sandy Hook and Asbury Park to enjoy some of that coastal living (at least for a few hours)! Sandy Hook is part of the National Park Service, and part of the National Gateway Recreational Area of New York and New Jersey, which includes Jamaica Bay, Sandy Hook, and Staten Island. The majority of the Sandy Hook is car free, which makes it amazing for exploring by bike! Sandy Hook is home to many beautiful beaches, as well as batteries, historic Army buildings, and the oldest serving lighthouse in the United States. I have been to Sandy Hook twice now, and one of the highlights for me was definitely taking a guided tour of one of the batteries of Fort Totten.
Start your trip at Battery Maritime Building Slip 5 in Manhattan, where the Seastreak Ferry will pick you up. There are two options for taking the Seastrek ferry on a weekend, one at 8:15 am and one at 11 am. While it might sound torturous to try to get on a ferry at 8:15 am, I recommend taking the earlier time, as you will probably want those extra hours to explore the island, and the last ferry from Sandy Hook leaves at 5:45 pm. The bike fee has been waived during the pandemic, and it is encouraged that you bring your bicycle on the ferry, so don't worry about that! Once you board the ferry, sit back and enjoy the 35 minute ride to Sandy Hook!
You will want to depart the ferry at the first stop for Highlands, New Jersey. It is easy to bike over to Sandy Hook from here, and this stop will better position you to ride down to Asbury Park. Once you get over the Navesink Avenue bridge onto Highland Beach, it's a pretty straight shot down Ocean Avenue (which at some point turns into Ocean Blvd) to get to Sandy Hook. I found traveling on these roads to be relatively low stress, as some parts are on separated bicycle paths running next to the beach, and the rest of the route is on pretty wide roads with ample room for cyclists. The photo below gives a good depiction of what you can expect on the roads:
13 mile beginner route (includes ferry ride)
Starts in Lower Manhattan ends at the St. George Terminal, SI.
A- Whitehall Terminal
B- St. George Ferry Terminal
D- Ralph's Famous Italian Ices
E- 777 Front Street
F- Von Brieson Park
G- Alice Austen House
H- Flagship Brewery
This 13 mile route is great for a beginner, taking you on some low stress streets in Staten Island. First, you have to get to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, how you get there is up to you. If coming by bike from Brooklyn or Queens, take the East River Greenway from any of the East River bridges. The East River Greenway is a great piece of bicycle infrastructure which is completely separated from car traffic, just watch out for some of the parts which are already eroding into the East River! You can also get to the ferry terminal by train, or by another connecting ferry to Pier 1. Once at the Ferry Terminal, make sure to enter the bicycle waiting area at the bottom, then hop on the Staten Island ferry. The ferry comes every 30 minutes, and the best part is, it is free! I love soaking in the view from the ferry, I suggest locking up your bike at one of the bike racks located on the first floor of the ferry and then walking up to the upper decks. There are usually enough people there with bikes that you don't need to worry about your bicycle being stolen or messed with (it would also be very difficult for someone to try to steal your bicycle on a boat). Enjoy the 20 minutes or so of the breeze in your face, and apply your sunblock for your ride!
9 mile beginner route
Starts Williamsburg, Brooklyn ends in LES, Manhattan.
A- Continental Army Plaza
B- Ivan Ramen
C- Tompkins Square Park (And the Avenue B Open Street)
D- 169 Bar
E- Doyers Street
F- Little Italy
G- Meatpacking District
H- Washington Square Park
J- Sara D. Roosevelt Park
K- Orchard Street
Manhattan packs a punch! This short ride is suitable for bike riders of any ability, and could easily be done on a Citibike! There are a lot of stops on this route, but they are more on the bike by side, so overall the trip shouldn't take you too long (I'd wager over an hour or so). I did this route at night, and it was such a fun way to experience the Open Streets, Open Restaurant Streets, and Open Restaurants, especially since they were all lit up at night. There were a very limited number of cars on the road, and so many people out in the streets, it is hard to imagine Manhattan every going back to being dominated by cars! Let's get rolling!
Depending on where you are coming from, you can start at the Continental Army Plaza and haul yourself over the Williamsburg Bridge, or you can take the train to the LES (I would suggest getting off at the Delancey Street FMJZ stop). Since this is a night time ride, I'm assuming you are hungry for dinner! Stop at Ivan Ramen to enjoy their outdoor dining set up (or if you are lucky, or think to plan in advance and make a reservation, they also have what appears to be a lovely backyard) and fuel yourself up. There are also Open Restaurant Streets on Ludlow Street and Orchard Street is dining outdoors without the smell of car exhaust in your food is more your thing.
Once you finish up eating, the exploring can begin! I suggest biking over to Tompkins Square Park area and walking down Avenue B, which has been converted into an Open Street. It is also fun to walk through Tompkins Square Park, there were so many people sitting out on the green there that my friend and I thought there was some kind of event going on! Turns out, people are just desperate for gathering places these days, and it was kind of fun to see the amount of socially distanced picnics happening.
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!