11 mile beginner route
Starts at McCarren Park, ends at Greenpoint Beer and Ale
A- McCarren Park
B- Queensbridge Park
C- Rainey Park
D- Socrates Sculpture Park
E- Shore Blvd Open Street
F- Astoria Park
G- Greenpoint Beer and Ale
The best season is upon us, it's biking season! After a long slog through what some (read: me and everyone I know) would probably describe as the worst winter in modern society, the sun has started staying out longer and the temperatures are rising. All signs point to an ideal time to start thinking about where you are going to be biking every weekend, and on that front, Rach Bikes NYC has you covered. This past weekend I designed a route for a trepidatious biker who lives in Greenpoint, a friend whose previous bike rides consisted of a few blocks around the neighborhood. In my effort to think of a fun ride that would feel safe and inviting for a newbie rider, I crafted this route that meanders throughout 5 parks in Long Island City and Astoria. I love this route for many reasons, but first off because it is really one of the most relaxing rides I can think of in the city (if you live in Greenpoint, I suppose), but also because it merges together all the things I love about NYC- waterfront views, bike paths through parks, 2-way protected bike lanes with painted barricades, sculptures in parks, and the endless options for delicious food and beverages. Even in a pandemic city, our city manages to find ways to supply joys on some of the first warm days of the spring season. So pump some air into those flattened tires and lube up that rusty chain, it's biking season baby!
If you are a true newbie that wants to have the most relaxing ride possible I am going to recommend that you start this route on Vernon Blvd at 46th Avenue. My intention was to craft the most chill route possible, but I hadn't been out in Astoria for awhile and forgot that the two-way protected bike lane on Vernon Blvd doesn't start until 46th Avenue. So if you are a little unsure about biking, either bring a buddy that can guide you up to that portion or just start at 46th Ave. If you start in McCarren Park, just be aware that Vernon Blvd until 46th Avenue is only sharrows (which I do not consider bicycle infrastructure).
If you do start in McCarren Park, gather up your friends while you eat a bagel (and if you do, grab one a latke bagel sandwich from Edith's) and then head on down Manhattan Avenue. Manhattan Avenue definitely isn't the most pleasant to ride on, so be sure to take your space. Turn down Eagle Street to access the Pulaski Bridge, a bridge that I am eternally grateful for now having a dedicated bicycle path on. The days of fearing that you would clip a pedestrian are long gone!
Once you get over the Pulaski, you have to do a little navigating of a large intersection in Long Island City, but if you just wait for the light have a clear path to take a left turn. Head straight down until you hit Hunters Point Park, this is a good opportunity to use the bathroom and check out some of the waterfront views! There is a nice bike path on the edge of the park, but unfortunately, it doesn't connect to the rest of the waterfront bike path or to Vernon Blvd, so you should just turn off on 50th Avenue here to connect to Vernon Blvd. This is the sketchy sharrow bit I was describing, which on a Saturday afternoon was quite hectic. You are only on this portion for a few blocks before you can connect to the two-way protected bike path, see above. Once you are on the two-way protected bike path, it's pretty smooth sailing!
From here, it's a pretty clear path through the four parks. Just make sure to turn off the two-way bike path into the parks to ride through them. You will be traveling through Queensbridge Park. Rainey Park, and lastly Socrates Sculpture Park. Socrates Sculpture Park is better to get off your bike and walk through, as the paths are a bit narrower, but once you are off your bike you have a better opportunity to stroll around and view the sculptures on display. Make sure to go through the whole park to the other side, because you will be able to re-connect to the two-way bike path. My friends and I decided to detour on something advertised as the "waterfront greenway" but as promising as it seemed, the majority of the greenway was fenced off and we ended up riding on the sidewalk. So maybe circumvent that section! To get over to Astoria Park, just take a left onto 27th Avenue and a right onto 12th Street, which will lead you directly into Shore Boulevard. Shore Boulevard was one of the first Open Streets I visited at the beginning of the program last year, and I am so happy to see that it is still operating successfully. There were so many people out walking, biking, and just enjoying themselves at this prime waterfront space that used to be dedicated to cars, and is now dedicated to people! What a joy that was to see.
Once you have made it to Astoria Park, I highly recommend taking some time to have a little picnic or to enjoy the waterfront views. When you head back to Greenpoint, or wherever your end destination is, just reverse the route! I choose to end at Greenpoint Beer and Ale because it is right off the Pulaski Bridge, and also has a great selection of drinks and food. They have a rooftop area that offers amazing sunset views if you are lucky enough to snag a table out there, or they have sidewalk seating available as well. For food options, they have a few snacky things but also larger portions such as pierogis, which are usually my go-to. The best part though- ample bike parking right out front!
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!