Exploring New York City by Bike

statue of liberty

We cycled through New York City on our first big family bike tour in 2007. A highlight for all four of us was a visit to the Statue of Liberty.

When many people think of New York City, they think of Times Square, Broadway shows, shopping on Fifth Avenue and eating in gourmet restaurants. While all of these are popular things to do in New York City, the chance to see some of the classic city sights is an opportunity that should not be passed up. Believe it or not, biking is one of the many great ways to go sightseeing in NYC, and there are places all over the city to rent a bike and take in the scenery.


Biking in Central Park

One of the most popular places for biking in New York City to bike is the famous Central Park. 778 acres of beautiful greenery, serene lakes, a zoo, and more welcome walkers, joggers, bikers and loungers. This is the perfect place to escape the urban jungle for an afternoon, and the best way to cover a lot of ground in a few hours is on a bike. This is a wonderful area for the whole family to bike around together. Central Park is closed to traffic Monday thru Friday from 10am to 3pm, opening the routes to walkers, joggers and bikers exclusively.

There are three paths through Central Park, 6.1 miles long, 5.2 miles, and 1.7 miles, where bikers can take a longer-distance ride and enjoy more of the park’s sights on a beautiful day in New York City. There are also shorter distance routes for those looking for a scenic and leisurely ride.

You’ll find bike rentals at the Loeb Boathouse and Merchants Gate/Columbus Circle, and prices start around $15. In addition to a bike rental, travelers can also rent helmets and other safety equipment, baskets, locks, maps and more. This is a perfect activity for families, who can rent all of the equipment they need for bikers of all ages and experience levels. Children under 14 years old are required to wear a helmet, and there are certain traffic laws to take into account that will keep everyone safe so that you can enjoy the experience to the fullest.


Biking the Brooklyn Bridge

cycling in nyc

Even though New York City is very busy, it’s not a bad place to cycle. The drivers are all used to pedestrians and cyclists, so they are on the lookout.

One of the best ways to see New York City’s most beautiful and iconic sights is by taking a ride over the Brooklyn Bridge. This bridge has been open since 1883 and in its building conquered many engineering feats of its time. It remains to this day the primary route between the two major boroughs of New York City. Every day, over 120,000 cars, 4,000 pedestrians, and 2,600 bicyclists cross the Brooklyn Bridge. Those numbers increase and decrease as weather conditions vary, but every season, the bridge remains at the top of many tourist’s list of things to see while they’re here.

Biking the Brooklyn Bridge is easy and safe, as there is a car-free walkway down the center of the bridge, directly above the traffic of the cars and trucks heading each way. Heading over the bridge offers beautiful views of the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn, and the Lower Manhattan Skyline. Ride to the middle of the bridge and back after snapping a few photos or head all the way to Brooklyn and spend a few hours exploring that bike-friendly part of the city along the waterfront or through various neighborhoods. There is a great loop between the Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge that makes it easy to explore the area and get back to where you started.


Bike Tours in NYC

There are bike tours available at both of these popular NYC biking locations. Central Park bike tours are a popular choice for families. The tours usually bike for about 5 miles, past some of the most scenic areas, and will stop for photo ops throughout the ride. These tours easily navigate to all the most popular places in Central Park, including Strawberry Fields, Wollman Rink, Belvedere Castle, Shakespeare Garden and more.

Brooklyn Bridge tours come in all shapes and sizes, so whether you want to ride over the bridge and along the Hudson River, would prefer going deeper into Brooklyn on your tour, or would like the chance to bike the bridge and head back to Manhattan by boat, you can find a fantastic tour to fit you and your family’s needs.

There are many great things to see in New York City, and hopping on a bike to check out these two iconic attractions is a great way to experience the city and get some fresh air on a nice day.

This article was written by Lizz Riggs, editor of NYCTourist.com.

Manhattan Waterfront Greenway

Cycling the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway is a delightful way to spend an afternoon. The path is very wide to accommodate both cyclists and pedestrians.

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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3 Responses to Exploring New York City by Bike

  1. Heidi April 17, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

    I never would have thought of NYC as a bicycling site, but it’s great to know that it’s not only possible but very do-able, even with kids. It actually makes a lot of sense, since we always end up exhausting our walking legs trying to see all of our favorite Central Park gems, not to mention the other parts of the city we love to explore. Next time I’m there, I’m going to see it on bikes instead of foot!

  2. Jacob Marlfoyle June 13, 2013 at 3:52 am #

    I did this for the first time with two friends last year. We had a terrific time! Even though we got caught up in a little rain it was nothing but fun. Don’t hurry though, just bring your old bike, relax, and enjoy the scenery. Well done by the organization. Meet LOTS of fellow bikers and see parts of New York you wouldn’t by car or foot.

    • Nancy Sathre-Vogel June 16, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

      @Jacob Marlfoyle, It’s amazing that NYC isn’t a total nightmare on bikes, given the amount of traffic. We found it wasn’t that bad at all – and we had a triple bike pulling a trailer!

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