This past month, New York City started showing its roots — the Dutch ones, that is. In a move that makes New Amsterdam look more like the original Amsterdam, Mayor Bloomberg unveiled the CitiBike system, a bike-sharing program poised to put more cyclists on the streets.
Sponsored by Citibank, the system is designed for quick, convenient trips by bike around the city. The concentrated network of bikes means that when you need to get somewhere fast, taking a bike should often be quicker and easier than walking, catching a cab or taking public transportation.
Once you’ve located one of the 600 kiosks and docking stations scattered throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn (visit citibikenyc.com to view a station map or download the CitiBike App to your smartphone), you’ll need to purchase access to the bike directly at the kiosk (24-hour pass is $9.95; 7-day pass is $25.95) for unlimited 30-minute rides around New York. Annual members, who sign up online for a $95 fee, are allowed unlimited 45-minute rides.
While many New Yorkers are still uncertain as to whether “Mike’s Bikes,” are a benefit or detriment to their gridded city — complaints have run from docking stations usurping parking spaces to fear of too many cyclists clogging traffic — why not see for yourself and have a look at the best of the Big Apple while you’re at it? Here are six interconnecting itineraries that glide through some of the city’s most charming neighborhoods and past beloved sites and attractions. And don’t forget: BYO helmet.
For more fun, tag your trip #WeLoveThisCity #CitiBike on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook so others can keep up with your adventures.
Leg 1: 9 -11minutes
Start: Pick up a bike at the Joralemon and Adams streets dock at Borough Hall. Head west on Joralemon Street through Brooklyn Heights until you come to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Greenway. Make a right onto the Greenway and enjoy the Manhattan skyline, East River breezes and Brooklyn Bridge views for about a half a mile. Make a slight right onto Old Fulton/Cadman Plaza West and a left onto Front Street.
Stop: Dock the bike at Front and Washington streets.
Take a walk around the cobbled streets of the quirkily-named DUMBO (it stands for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass”). If you’re an art lover, pop into Dumbo Arts Center, which also houses more than a dozen independent galleries under one roof. Hungry? Hit Almondine for a pastry and a coffee, or Jacques Torres’ flagship confectionary for some chocolate. Or, grab a quick bite from the food trucks along Front Street or famous Grimaldi’s pizza at the Fulton Ferry Landing.
Leg 2: 15 -17 minutes
Pick up another bike where you left off at the Front and Washington dock. Head east on Front Street, turn right on Pearl Street, and turn right to merge onto the Brooklyn Bridge, the mile-long marvel built in 1883. (Be careful of pedestrians). Exit the bridge in Manhattan at Park Row South. Make a left on Spruce Street, a right on Gold Street and a left onto Maiden Lane.
End: Dock the bike at Front Street and Maiden Lane. Walk to Pier 17/South Street Seaport to explore ships, shops and the brand-new Smorgasbar — a beer, wine and spirits garden featuring local and artisanal food purveyors.
DOWNTOWN ROUTE 1
This three-leg ride allows easy access through the Financial District to the foot of the soaring 104-story One World Trade Center, before stopping at the 9/11 Memorial and the historic Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side.
Leg 1: 5-7 minutes
Pick up a bike at Front Street and Maiden Lane. Cycle northwest on Maiden Lane for half a block, turn left on Water Street and right onto Broad Street/Nassau Street. Note that you are near the New York Stock Exchange, which is at the intersection of Wall and Nassau one block to the left. From Nassau, make a left onto Beekman Street and a left onto Park Row. Follow Park Row as it bends to the right then make a left onto Barclay Street.
Stop: Dock the bike at Barclay and Church Street. Visit the 9/11 Memorial, which pays tribute to the thousands of lives lost during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Leg 2: 5 -7 minutes
Pick up a bike at the Barclay and Church streets dock. Head north on Church, turn right on Warren Street and merge onto Centre Street heading north. Make a right on White Street and then right onto Baxter Street.
Stop: Dock the bike at Bayard and Baxter streets if you’d like to walk around Chinatown. You might spy residents practicing tai chi, playing mah jong or showing off their songbirds in the adjacent Columbus Park.
Leg 3: 5 -7 minutes
Pick up a bike at Bayard and Baxter and continue on Bayard one block; then make a left onto Mulberry Street, and ride through the heart of Little Italy. Make a right on Grand Street and turn left onto Forsyth Street.
End: Dock the bike on Forsyth and Broome streets at Sara D. Roosevelt Park.
Walk three blocks east to Orchard Street to the Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side to learn about the neighborhood’s fascinating immigrant culture.
DOWNTOWN ROUTE 2
Leg 1: 7-9 minutes
Pick up a bike at the Allen and Rivington streets dock. Head west on Rivington, cross through Sara D. Roosevelt Park and turn right onto Bowery. Make a left on Prince Street, and then ride through the spine of SoHo, noting the cast-iron buildings that were once warehouses, then artist lofts, and now chain stores or office buildings. At the intersection of Prince and Sullivan streets turn right. Cross Houston Street into the West Village, and continue head-on to Washington Square Park.
Stop: Dock the bike on Sullivan and W. Third streets. Explore the heart of Bohemian Greenwich Village. The Square’s famous marble arch was erected in 1889 to celebrate the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration as the first president of the United States. Check out the action surrounding the fountain, where you’re likely to encounter folk singers, artists, street performers and the NYU community bustling through.
Leg 2: 9-11 minutes
Pick up a bike on Washington Square East. Head north on University Place, then make a left on Ninth Street. Stay on Ninth until it becomes historic Christopher Street. On the stretch between Sixth and Seventh avenues, notice the Stonewall Inn, where riots gave birth to the gay rights movement. Across from it, Sheridan Square marks the occasion with sculptures of same-sex couples by George Segal. At Hudson Street, make a right, and cycle up to Bethune Street, where you will make a quick left, then a right onto Greenwich Street. Continue to Ninth Avenue and W. 14th Street.
End: Dock your bike at 9th Avenue and W. 14th Street. If you’re a shopper, take the time to browse the many boutiques within the cobblestoned streets of the Meatpacking District before walking to the High Line at 14th Street and 10th Avenue. Walk the former elevated railroad tracks, now a pedestrian greenway, and enjoy the landscape architecture and unique city views before exiting at 23rd Street.
This route quickly connects the western edges of Chelsea to the bustling center where the Flatiron District, Gramercy and the southern foot of Midtown meet. It beats the tortoise-like crosstown bus by more than half the time.
Leg 1: 13-15 minutes
Exit the High Line at 23rd Street. Art lovers can walk on 24th Street between 10th and 11th avenues to pop into some galleries, including the Gagosian Gallery and Gladstone Gallery on 24th between 11th and 10th avenues. Once on 10th, walk two blocks south and pick up bike at the dock on 22nd Street and 10th Ave. Head dead-east on 22nd Street until Broadway, about five crosstown blocks.
End: Dock the bike at 22nd Street and Broadway. Walk over to Eataly on Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street, New York City’s edible homage to all things Italian, to pick up the fixings (salumi? cheese? pre-made panini?) for an elaborate picnic. Cross the street to Madison Square Park to enjoy a shady city respite while eating.
MIDTOWN ROUTE 1
The notorious congestion of the city center becomes much easier to navigate with a compact two wheels instead of four, and you can get into the Empire State Building and Grand Central Terminal quicker than any tour bus. Plus, this three-leg path stops just across from the Intrepid Museum, further than any subway dares to go.
Leg 1: 3-5 minutes
Pick up a bike at Broadway and W. 24th Street. Head north on Madison Avenue and turn left onto E 33rd Street.
Stop: Dock the bike at E. 33 Street and Fifth Avenue. Say hello to the Art Deco icon, the Empire State Building, once the tallest building in the world. For some of the city’s best views, take the elevator up to the observation deck on 102nd floor.
Leg 2: 5-7 minutes
Pick up a bike at E. 33rd Street and Fifth Avenue. Head south on Fifth Avenue and turn left onto E. 32nd Street. Turn left onto Madison Ave., and head north until E. 42nd Street. Turn right on E 42nd Street.
Stop: Dock the bike at Pershing Square, 42nd Street and Park Avenue. Pop into the waiting room at the beautiful, Beaux-Art Grand Central Terminal, built in 1913. Marvel at its comings-and-goings, fab constellation ceiling and visit the legendary Grand Central Oyster Bar on the lower level to toss back a few on the half-shell.
Leg 3: 12-14 minutes
Pick up a bike at 43rd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue. Head west on 43rd. Make a right on 10th Avenue. Make a left on 47th Street. Make a left on 11th Avenue.
End: Dock the bike at 46th Street and 11th Avenue.
Enjoy the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, a “floating exhibit” of military history on an aircraft carrier. The carrier served in WW II and Vietnam, and displays helicopters, fighter jets and even a space shuttle.
MIDTOWN ROUTE 2
This route once again beats Midtown congestion, conveniently gliding by major tourist sites such as Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Musem of Modern Art. It ends with a lovely loop through the green acres of Central Park.
Leg 1: 10-12 minutes
Pick up bike at 46th Street and 11th Avenue. Head east on 46th Street. If you feel hungry while riding between Eighth and Ninth avenues, it’s because this block is known as “Restaurant Row” for its preponderance of eateries. The blinking lights of Times Square beckon as you pass through the intersection of Broadway. At Sixth Avenue, take a left and head north until 51st Street and Sixth Avenue.
Stop: Dock the bike at 51st Street and Sixth Avenue. Visit Rockefeller Center, site of the famous GE Building (aka 30 Rock). The gilded bronze statue of Prometheus sits at the head of the fountain and skating rink. Across Fifth Avenue, the neo-gothic St. Patrick’s Cathedral is probably the city’s most famous church. Two blocks north on 53rd Street, stop in to the Museum of Modern Art to admire the works of Picasso, Monet, Warhol and many others. Grab a quick bite or a cocktail at the Bar Room at The Modern restaurant within.
Leg 2: 25-27 minutes
Pick up a Bike at 51st Street and Sixth Avenue and head north until you enter New York City’s backyard, Central Park, the most-visited urban park in the U.S., at Sixth Avenue and Central Park South. Do the south “loop,” starting on Center Drive heading northeast, up and around to Terrace Drive, then south on West Drive. Exit the park at 59th Street, Columbus Circle.
End: Dock the bike at 57th Street and Broadway and congratulate yourself for completing an amazing New York City bicycle adventure.