About New York City
- WalkScore 88
- TransitScore 61
- BikeScore 62
- League of American Bicyclists' Rating: Silver
Bike Map (pdf)
Transit Map (pdf)
More or less since its founding, New York City has been America's grandest Petri dish. While other cities have tended towards sticking with what they know until dragged kicking and screaming into the future, NYC boldly runs most of the experiments first, and it does so in grand scale. Some of them, like the sweeping highway projects of Robert Moses, were ultimately misguided. Others, like the original bicycle boom of the 1890's that swept New York along with Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and parts of Michigan and Wisconsin, have proven to be prophetic. New York put in the nation's first bike lane in 1894, and Madison Square Garden's original incarnation on East 26th and Madison Avenue was initially developed for cycle racing... there's still an Olympic event called "Madison Racing" that bears testament. Yes, Car Culture eventually overtook the progressive bike scene, and New York spent its share of years in the Dark Ages, but bikes began to claw their way back into perspective earlier here than in most other places in the US. New York also has the gift of wildly progressive, dynamic, risk-taking leadership that progressives in other cities can only watch with envy. And so it was that 2001 saw Mayor Michael Bloomberg elected, and with him an entirely new attitude towards biking. Since 2001, New York has begun to systematically redesign itself in a way that de-emphasizes cars and prioritizes pedestrians and cyclists, mostly under the energetic leadership of Janette Sadik-Khan, who was the commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation from 2007-2013. As of 2015, bike-minded visitors to New York City can expect to be able to connect most neighborhoods with separated cycle tracks, with painted bike lanes offering finer-tuned connections to just about anywhere. More impressive are the bike lanes on the Brooklyn Bridge (trust us you must do this), and the fabulous Hudson River Bikeway along the western edge of Manhattan. Unlike the 1970's, you don't have to be tough to bike here anymore. You just need a few good maps, and we can help you with that.
Denizens of NYC are, if nothing else, masters of efficiency. And sometimes, when you're delivering food by bike for a living, it's much more efficient to ride the wrong way up a cycle track - opposing traffic be damned. Don't waste your energy trying to fix what cannot be fixed. Just make room, realize it isn't a big deal, and think how much worse it must be in New Delhi.
Stay off the sidewalks as much as you can, because this is primarily a walking city, and they will not tolerate you covering the last few blocks by riding on the sidewalk. Also, respect people walking through intersections at the wrong time, even if it's not mutual. They will quite often walk whenever (and wherever) they damned well wanna, so ride slowish and be prepared.
If you stay on the major bike routes, it's actually pretty hard to lose your way, because the major routes are very well signed and they don't just end abruptly. If you find yourself needing to view a map, pull over and hop up onto the sidewalks to get out of the bike lane.
Use your bell gratuitously to let people know you're coming up on them, especially on the Brooklyn Bridge where pedestrians are separated by nothing but paint. It's better than a bad surprise.
Bridges... they start much much farther inland than you think they do. Most of them have bike accommodations and are pretty derned amazing to ride over, but if you don't live somewhere with such big bridges, you may not realize how far inland they actually start.
Front white lights and red rear lights seem to be required at night, as they should. Helmets are required for anyone 13 years old or younger, as well as for "working cyclists," which we're guessing isn't the average person reading this City Guide. Bells are required, as they should be.
NYC has a bike theft culture to rival anyone's, so if you aren't using the awesomely-returnable Citibikes, then you really need to bring your bike inside at night. Really. If you absolutely cannot bring your bike inside at night, then you need the kind of "nuclear apocalypse zombie mutant" grade locks (plural... not a lock, but locks) mentioned here. In short, you want at least one high-quality heavy chain lock, and/or a thick double-locking-ended U-lock. Don't even bother locking up with a cable lock, unless you just want an excuse to go bike shopping the next morning. Combo cable locks are about as secure in NYC as a chain of paper clips, or perhaps a whimsical loop of kite string. Put some effort into it.
New Yorkers are busy, but they're also pretty gracious, kind people. If you aren't stumbling around in front of them, gaping wide-mouthed at all the tall buildings as they just try to get to work, then they're happy to say hello and help you find something. Just realize that you may be on vacation, but they're not. The bike network has been intentionally designed to accommodate many different types of riders, so navigating and using it is usually a pleasure. And that network connects you to so many world-class destinations that it's not even funny. The food, the scenery, the soaring public spaces, and the history here are world-class, and they're are all best reached by bike.
Best Bike Rides in and around Brooklyn
These routes were curated by local Brooklynites who wanted to share their #BestBikeRide with you. Print off the map for free!
- Bike & Roll - $40+ daily for hybrid, road, tandem, kids, trailer bike, trailer, child seat
- Blazing Saddles - $44+ daily for cruiser, hybrid, tandem, kids, trailer bike, trailer, child seat
- Joy Ride NYC - $65+ daily for city, road bikes delivered and picked up from your location
- Landmark Bicycles - call (347) 799-2116) for availability and pricing
- Rolling Orange - $38+ daily for dutch bike includes lights, chain lock, basket and map
- Rolling Orange Bike Tours - $55+ for tours on real Dutch bikes in Manhattan, Central Park and Brooklyn
- Bikelyn - $85+ for private, tailor made tours on Dutch bikes in Brooklyn
- Bike & Roll - $40+ per person for city tour (Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, 9/11, Bridge & Bike, NY at Night)
- Blazing Saddles - $44+ per person for city tour (Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park)
- Brommie Foodie - $10-20 per person for local food tour (Brompton owners only)
- Gotham Tours - $195+ per person (for 10% off, mention BIKABOUT when booking) for long distance day trips and multi-day tours (Montauk, Beaches, Farm-to-Table, Hudson Valley, Autumn, Old Put)
- Loudest Yeller Bicycle Tours - $45 for 4 hour tours of Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. Our bright yellow bikes are made by Brooklyn Bicycle Co. located in Greenpoint.
- MTA (Subway Map) - "Bicycles are permitted on Subway trains at all times. However, we strongly recommend that cyclists avoid boarding crowded rush hour trains." Buses only allow folding bikes.
- Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) - "Bicycles are allowed aboard LIRR trains at most times outside of rush hours and major holidays."
- Metro-North Railway - "Bicycles are allowed aboard MNR trains at most times outside of rush hours and major holidays."
Unless otherwise noted below, all these lines require bikes to be boxed (boxes are $15) and pay $10 to check as luggage.
- Acela (Boston - New Haven - New York - Philadelphia - Baltimore) - Folding bikes only
- Adirondack (Montreal - Albany - New York)
- Cardinal / Hoosier State (New York - Cincinnati - Indianapolis - Chicago)
- Carolinian / Piedmont (New York - Raleigh - Charlotte) - Piedmont has free, walk-on service that requires a reservation
- Crescent (New York - Atlanta - New Orleans)
- Empire Service (New York - Albany - Syracuse - Rochester - Buffalo - Niagara Falls)
- Ethan Allen Express (Rutland - Albany - New York)
- Keystone (New York - Philadelphia - Harrisburg)
- Lake Shore Limited (New York/Boston - Albany - Chicago)
- Maple Leaf (Toronto - Niagara Falls - New York)
- Northeast Regional (Boston - Providence / Springfield - Hartford - New York - Lynchburg / Richmond - Petersburg - Norfolk / Newport News - Virginia Beach)
- Pennsylvanian (New York - Pittsburgh)
- Silver Service / Palmetto (New York - Charleston - Savannah - Jacksonville - Orlando - Tampa/Miami)
- Vermonter (St. Albans - Burlington - Springfield - New York)
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