Active City Spotlight: Cycling in New York City

Bike messengers, commuters and those who just don't want to deal with New York City's cars are finding the bike as the transportation of choice.

Studies have shown that the average car trip in New York City is less than three miles, so city officials went to work encouraging those trips to be made by bike. More than 200 miles of bike lanes have been added in the last few years, a bike-sharing system is now in place and whether you are commuting, training or just riding for recreation, you know you won't be alone in New York City.

Here is a guide of places to ride, bike shops to visit and events to sign up for in the Big Apple.

More: 3 Options to Consider When Traveling With Your Bike

Places to Ride

An uninterruped ride in New York often involves getting out of the city entirely.

One that's popular among cyclists and triathletes is to cross the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey. From there, take the 9W north back into New York state and eventually into the town of Nyack.

"It's nice terrain, a couple of good hills, and there's a great coffee shop in Nyack," says Marty Munson, a triathlon coach in New York City. "Plus, there are very few stoplights."

Going from Manhattan to Nyack and back is about 50 miles, mostly along the banks of the Hudson River.

Other popular routes:

  • Central Park has a 6-mile loop local cyclists ride, but get there early to avoid workout-busting congestion.
  • The Manhattan Waterfront Greenway is a 28-mile path around Manhattan. Due to the amount of runners and casual riders, getting an intense workout on the greenway is difficult.

More: 10 Best Cities for Cyclists

Races to Remember

The Campagnolo Gran Fondo New York in May offers rides up to 100 miles, with routes taking off from the George Washington Bridge and heading up toward Stony Point. The century has 8,000 feet of climbing.

Other well-known races include:

  • The NYC Century in September is a 100-mile ride completely within city limits. You can start in Brooklyn or Manhattan, and by the end of the ride, you visit many of New York's diverse neighborhoods. More than 6,000 riders participate annually.
  • Escape New York in September crosses the George Washington Bridge and rides along the serene roads of Bergen and Rockland Counties in New Jersey.

Stores to Check Out

Jeff's BicyclesNYC (1400 3rd Avenue) has been in business since 1977, offering bikes from big brands like Specialized, Cannondale, Yeti and more. Test rides are encouraged and tune-ups are always welcomed.

Other bike shops include:

  • Silk Road Cycles (76 Franklin Street) in Brooklyn.
  • Strictly Bicycles (2347 Hudson Terrace in Fort Lee, N.J.) is a well-known bike shop that caters to those riding along the 9W.

One Last Tip

One of the coolest bike races out there is Brooklyn's Red Hook Criterium, held annually in March. The race is a fixed-gear crit in the middle of the night in cold temperatures.

More: The Most Interesting Bike Race in the World

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