New Yorkers love to spend their time outdoors. And nothing excites them more than the start of spring, when they can flock to the nearest park to snuggle up with books, dine al fresco and enjoy outdoor activities while the warm weather lasts. In an effort to fuel an active lifestyle, New York City has some of the most picturesque cityscape bike paths. With several options to choose from, the urban biker can indulge in multiple rides throughout the metropolis.
Spanning more than 12mi (19km) from Battery Park City to the George Washington Bridge, the Hudson River Greenway is a smoothly paved bike path that offers stunning views of the Hudson River. The route is shared with joggers and pedestrians strolling towards the Intrepid Museum and the Midtown-based Manhattan Cruise Terminal, but it opens up near Chelsea. The ride offers scenic vistas all the way to the Cloisters and Fort Tryon Park – the perfect place for a peaceful rest. This path is the longest in New York City and also the busiest one in the nation.
While part of the original path was lost in the 1970s to make room for the Prospect Expressway, this tree-lined route remains intact from Prospect Park to Coney Island. It begins in the Cobble Hill-Carroll Gardens area for a quiet brownstone tour until you hit the boardwalk mainstay Ruby’s Bar & Grill. The Ocean Parkway Bike Path runs from Ocean Parkway and East 8th Street in Kensington, Brooklyn, to Surf Avenue in Coney Island. It’s the nation’s first bike path, constructed in 1894, and stretches across Brooklyn for more than 5mi (8km).
Aside from the dozens of arts and culture events offered during the warmer months on Governors Island, this park is one of the best car-free places to ride your bike, with 7mi (11km) of paths. Riders can find tree-lined trails, historic buildings and sensational views of Lower Manhattan and the New York Harbor. Both the East River Ferry and the Governors Island Ferry are bike-friendly. If you don’t own a bike, kiosks on the island offer rentals. Governors Island is open every day during the summer.
Adjacent to the Bronx River Parkway, this natural, woodsy ride runs from the city’s northern borders into Westchester. It begins at Oak Street in Mount Vernon, running through bridges and along the riverbank. The path includes a 1mi (1.6km) loop near Oak Street, followed by a 3.6mi (5.8km) ride from Bronxville to Scarsdale and 5mi (8km) ride from Hartsdale to the Kensico Dam Plaza in Valhalla.
Riding through north Brooklyn to Long Island City and then into the Lower East Side, the Pulaski to Williamsburg Bridge path begins down commercial Manhattan Avenue until Noble Street. From here, riders can go to Lorimer to head to McCarren Park for a loop before Driggs Ave, or they can bypass the park and ride the Kent Ave bike path to the Williamsburg Bridge at South 5th Street over into the Lower East Side. All directions boast spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline.
The less strenuous Rockaway Ride begins at the B/Q stop at Sheepshead Bay/East 16th Street or at the Howard Beach A stop. It’s about 7mi (11km) through a quiet residential street and continues on a bike path along the beaches until it hits the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge. Riders can head left after the bridge to Jacob Riis Park.
One of New York City’s biggest attractions also offers riders three bike paths: a 6.1mi (9.8km), 5.2mi (8.4km) or 1.7mi (2.7km) ride. All routes are car-free during weekends, leaving them open for horse carriages, runners and cyclists to enjoy. The park also offers bike rental services.
Situated between the north end of the East River between Manhattan and Queens, Wards Island is a 255-acre (103ha) parkland that offers a path for pedestrians and cyclists starting at East 103rd Street and is open exclusively in the spring and summer season. It provides sweeping views of the New York City rivers and cityscape scenery.
The 18mi (29km) Pier 84 to City Island path is a less touristy ride. Head north from Manhattan into the Bronx. Cross the Harlem River as the trail turns east through the Bronx Park, along Pelham Parkway, and finally over a small series of bridges that bring you to City Island in the Long Island Sound. City Island is a sleepy fishing village with a mix of antique shops, a nautical museum, Victorian mansions and a bird population. It also has many restaurants and is a short ride to the No 6 subway line, which can bring you back into Manhattan.