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Old 07-31-11, 09:03 PM   #1
EastCoaster2011
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NYC...few questions for a noob.

Hello, yes I am a noob. I did do a search and had a couple questions answered however I was hoping to get a few answered here.

I will be visiting the city in mid August. I enjoy riding my mountain bike around where I live now (Va) and thought it might be a great experience to ride around some parts of Manhattan.

Question 1, I will be staying on Staten Island and commuting to Manhattan. I did read up on that the ferry does allow you to bring a bicycle onto the lower level.

Can anybody explain exactly what happens? What I mean by this is what can I expect so there are no surprises. I will simply wait in line to go onto the lower level? Is it still free with a bike? Is it pretty common to see other cyclists taking the ferry?

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/bike..._terminals.pdf

I found this while searching and appears to be a map pointing in the right direction as to where to go on both sides.

Question 2, I was looking at bike routes and I think the best one for me considering I would prefer to stay away from a lot of traffic i.e. bike lanes. Would be the bike path along the Hudson river. It looks like it's designated just for bikes. Any tips/suggestions on taking that route?

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/bike...n_brooklyn.pdf (Bike routes)

If I take that route I could take it up towards Central Park and cross over a few blocks to tour the park via bike.

Last question,

I know it's illegal to ride a bike on the side walks. Would it be a problem if I have the bike on the side walks but only while I am walking it? Being a tourist I might see some side streets that I'd like to check out and to avoid traffic I'd rather just walk my bike. I ask this because I have no idea what the cops would try and make a big deal out of or not. Sorry for the ignorance

Thanks in advance.
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Old 07-31-11, 11:36 PM   #2
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There's a special bicycle waiting area on street level at both South Ferry and the St. George terminals that lead cyclists to the lower level of the ferry. Once you're on the ferry there are bike racks where you can leave your bike to walk around and enjoy the sights. Unless you use the ferry in the middle of the night there's a good chance there'll be plenty of other cyclists, and yes, bringing a bike on the ferry is free.

You should also be aware that you can bring your bike on the subway, for free. Just board rear car and try to avoid the crowds.

The Westside Greenway is pretty straightforward. You can take it to the upper west side and cross over to Central Park, or go all the way to Inwood. There's also a number of protected bike lanes on First, Second, Eighth and Ninth Avenues, Broadway from Central Park to Herald Square, and a fading one on Grand Street, You don't have to stick entirely to the Greenway just to avoid riding in traffic.

Walking your bike on the sidewalk is perfectly legal.

If you haven't already you should either download the NYC Cycling Map from DOT or pick up the hard copy version from a New York City bike store. Oh and make sure to bring a good strong lock, like a Kryptonite Fahgettaboudit, because you may want to step inside once in a while.
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Old 08-01-11, 06:56 AM   #3
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Depending on when your there check this out
http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/summerst...ome/home.shtml
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Old 08-01-11, 07:45 AM   #4
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Question 2, I was looking at bike routes and I think the best one for me considering I would prefer to stay away from a lot of traffic i.e. bike lanes. Would be the bike path along the Hudson river. It looks like it's designated just for bikes. Any tips/suggestions on taking that route?
It's great, but there are traffic lights for bicycles and many of the cyclists ignore them. If it's *completely* empty, I'll go through a red light, but I always slow down & stay to the right. Sometimes some cyclist wants to run the red light at full speed so I just try to stay out of their way. I'd rather be a witness to an accident than the cause of one.

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If I take that route I could take it up towards Central Park and cross over a few blocks to tour the park via bike.
Parts of Central Park are open to cars I think from 8-10am & 3-7pm. There's a bike lane, though.

Also, as Stacy said there are other protected bike lanes where there are parked cars or some other obstruction between you and traffic. I took the Broadway one south from Central Park and while you have to get off your bike to go through Times Square, it's a lot more interesting than going back down the Hudson River Greenway again and very safe. Unfortunately, the protection ends eventually but you're in a striped lane so the worst of it is having to go around a double parked car here and there, and to go slowly enough that you can stop quickly for the occasional door opening, which rarely happens.

After Central Park, I would take Broadway to 5th Ave (@ Madison Sq Park - grab Shake Shack if the line isn't too long, it's an outdoor stand so you can hold your bike) & from there take the 5th Ave bike lane down to Greenwich Village, take 9th street (becomes Christopher St) back to the Hudson River Greenway. Really easy & you see a lot more stuff.

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I know it's illegal to ride a bike on the side walks. Would it be a problem if I have the bike on the side walks but only while I am walking it?
As long as it's not too crowded, everyone would appreciate you walking your bike on the sidewalk & not riding on it. A cop wouldn't ticket you for that. If you're trying to walk down a crowded midtown street with a bike at lunch hour, though, the hordes of pedestrians might run you over. You might be better off on the street, where the cars probably won't be moving too fast anyway.
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Old 08-01-11, 07:51 AM   #5
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@fattyArbuckle, Excellent write-up!
Riding a bicycle in NYC may seem like a death wish to some, however, you can also get killed walking your doggie over some stray electrified pavement.
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Old 08-01-11, 11:37 AM   #6
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I know you're in Staten Island and Manhattan mostly, but if you can make it out to Queens, there are great mountain bike trails in Cunningham Park:
http://www.nycbikemaps.com/maps/cunn...ike-trail-map/

The easiest and quickest way is to bring your bike with you on the LIRR to Bayside on the Port Washington branch, then bike south to the park. The LIRR is quite reasonably priced on weekends and should have plenty of space for a bike.
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Old 08-01-11, 12:48 PM   #7
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My one piece of advice is obey the law but expect NO ONE else to do so, motorists, pedestrians, or cyclists. You will get killed if you rely on them to follow the rules. Don't expect the cops to ticket you or anyone else either.
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Old 08-01-11, 01:17 PM   #8
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Stacy's writeup is really spot on. You could start with the Greenway, then move to the protected bike lanes, and then move to the striped lanes as you start feeling more and more comfortable with riding in the city. Follow the traffic signals, and you'll be just fine. As you're looking to take in the sights, no need to run any reds and risk a rather expensive ticket!

I would add that all the bike routes–Greenway, lanes, Central Park, etc.–are getting pretty heavy use as more and more NYers are using bikes (14% growth over last year, double-digit growth the past few years before that!), so just remember that there will be a sort of fast-bike-traffic/slower-bike-traffic thing going on. Don't be intimidated, just stay to one side and hold a straight line!

Walking on a sidewalk is totally fine, and bikes can go on subways at all times. Just let the station booth agent know you'll need to use the gate. They'll watch you swipe your MetroCard and turn over the turnstile with your hand, and will unlock the gate for you. No bikes on commuter rails during peak hours (NJTransit, LIRR, MTA-North), and a $5 lifetime pass which can be purchased at Grand Central or on the internet in advance is required for bringing your bike on LIRR and MTA-North.

Another little hint: old IRT subway lines are numbered (1,2,3,4,5,6,7) and are not as wide as the lettered subway lines. You are allowed on all lines at all times, just keep in mind that the numbered ones can tend to get crowded faster than the lettered ones!

Bring a u-lock and cable, watch a couple youTube videos on how to lock your bike in NYC, and you'll be set to have a great bike tour in the city. Oh, and those maps that Stacy mentions are free at any LBS in the city. Let us know if you have any more questions, too.
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Old 08-01-11, 04:13 PM   #9
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You guys are awesome! I really appreciate the information. Already made me feel more comfortable.
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Old 08-01-11, 04:25 PM   #10
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Depending on when your there check this out
http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/summerst...ome/home.shtml
Nice! I am actually arriving that Saturday (13th)Unfortunately I originally planned to do the biking on Monday morning and early afternoon because that's the day I'm checking out of the hotel. That way I can park at SI terminal and kind of extend my vacation.

I'm glad you posted that link though. I think I'll def walk that route. Great opportunity to check out things.

Thanks a lot!
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Old 08-01-11, 05:13 PM   #11
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Riding a bicycle in NYC may seem like a death wish to some, however, you can also get killed walking your doggie over some stray electrified pavement.
Yeah, our brains have a tough time aligning perceived risk w/actual risk lol. Pretty much everybody in my family thinks I'm insane for wanting to ride my bike in the city. With the exception of one, they've never ridden themselves! And almost never drive in the city, either. Riding is really very safe if you stick to small roads w/the bike lanes & don't go too fast.
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Old 08-01-11, 05:44 PM   #12
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Depending on when your there check this out
http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/summerst...ome/home.shtml
In regards to that 7 am to 1 pm saturday bike tour. Does anybody know how long it would take on average to go the distance from lower Manhattan to Central Park on a bike. Not going fast at all just cruising comfortably? I'm really looking into leaving for the city a day early and doing that. Is it rain or shine? I'm thinking I could take that route up Manhattan, ride in Central Park some then come back down the west side.
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Old 08-01-11, 06:20 PM   #13
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I'm pretty sure it's rain or shine. And it looks to be about 5 mi from South Ferry to 59th St or so. With the road clogged w/strollers and rollerbladers, etc., you'll probably do about 6mph up that stretch. So I'd expect you'll make it there in under an hour.
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Old 08-01-11, 11:00 PM   #14
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Just out today!
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Old 08-02-11, 10:15 AM   #15
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You can take the west side bike path up to Inwood, get off around Dyckman St., cross over and go mtbing in Highbridge Park. Technical course w/ lots of switchbacks, a pump track, some good drop sections, etc. There's also the mtb trails in SI which I think are less technical. And if you're up to going to Queens, there's more mtbing in Cunningham Park. You can take the subway to nearby and ride from the station.
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Old 08-02-11, 05:20 PM   #16
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Just out today!
Thanks! Nice to see what the area looks like on the ferry.
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Old 08-04-11, 08:18 PM   #17
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I grew up in Staten Island so I am a master of the ferry. Now I sometimes visit family there so I have taken my bike on the ferry at least a few times now. There are always many ferry employees eager to tell cyclists where to go, so don't worry about getting lost. Just get there at least ten minutes before departure and you'll be fine. Here are the details.

On the Manhattan side, go in the terminal main entrance and all the way to the right of the escalators. Usually the security folks will run after you to make sure you don't dare go on the escalator. Just go through the doors to the outside waiting area, and there is a small seating area for you to wait until the ferry crew says you can board. Then just walk your bike onto the ferry and look for the "bike area". Some boats have racks but I prefer to keep it with me in the bike area.

On Staten Island, at the intersection of Bay Street and Richmond Terrace, there is a ramp to the lower level of the terminal (under the building). Just follow that ramp down and wait to be called to board. I always come in on the SIR train which is upstairs, so I have to rush to get downstairs in time. (The ferry will hold for the train arrival but it's very tight with my bike if the train is late. Stay in the front of the train and have your MetroCard ready for a head start.) If inside the main terminal, go to the far right (east) end and downstairs (or elevator) to the outdoor waiting area. If you wind up on the bus ramp by mistake, just go to any of the berths and enter the terminal.

Note that you can't bring your bike into the waiting areas, so no access to the bathrooms, but you can get a paper/snack on the SI side, and there are bathrooms on the boat. Also, there are employees and police all over, so don't ride anywhere in/around the terminal.
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