Go Back  Bike Forums > Community Connections > Regional Discussions > Northeast
Reload this Page >

great bike trip from New York to Philadelphia and back

Notices
Northeast Connecticut | Maine | Massachusetts | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New York |Rhode Island | Vermont |

great bike trip from New York to Philadelphia and back

Old 07-24-17, 10:46 AM
  #1  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Ferdinand NYC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: New York City
Posts: 380

Bikes: Giant road bike

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 64 Post(s)
Liked 5 Times in 5 Posts
great bike trip from New York to Philadelphia and back

This has been mentioned in other threads, but I thought that I would say here what a great time I had on my second round-trip bike voyage between New York and Philadelphia.

I took Route 27 for its entire 39-mile length from Newark to Princeton, and then a street whose names are Mercer Street, Mercer Road, Princeton Pike, and Princeton Avenue (that's four names for the same street) all the way to Trenton. In Trenton I veered off onto Calhoun Street, which took me over the bridge to Pennsylvania. From there it is a simple 20-mile ride into Philly.

The route was very interesting. Having previously ridden to Philly by way of largely rural County Road 535, I found NJ 27 to be most vibrant, cutting through several urban centres, such as Metuchen, Edison, and the college towns of New Brunswick (home of Rutgers University) and Princeton. The shoulders were sufficient at all points, except perhaps for a short stretch going north in Colonia, which wasn't so bad even still.

There's not much to see in the way of city life on Mercer Street / Princeton Pike between Princeton and Trenton; but the riding is good with long periods of road unterrupted by very many intersections. The shoulders are wide at most points; and there are even some short periods of bike lanes. The only spot that looks difficult is the point where Princeton Pike crosses over I-95 (the section of I-95 that runs east-west, before it turns south again and goes into Philadephia). The shoulder temporarily disappears, and the view looks a bit intimidating, especially as you are approching it while going north. But once you are past the junction, everything calms down again.

And then there's Philadelphia itself. I cannot say enough about that town as a bike town! The bike lanes are fabulous; and they are found all throughout the city, even in the remote Northeast where I was staying (the "Queens" of Philly).

But perhaps the best thing about riding in Philadelphia is the attitude of the drivers. This may be hard to believe about the town famous for booing Santa Claus, but, as compared to New York drivers, the people driving cars in Philly are downright polite. They respond to hand signals in a way that New York drivers do not. For example, whenever I had to move left for some reason, a simple extension of my backward-facing palm caused the drivers behind me to slow down and let me in; by contrast, in New York I have to thrust my hand out and wave it around vigourously in order to have any chance of getting through to the moron driving behind me.

There was a distinct lack of aggression on the part of drivers, compared to what I am used to. As a bicyclist in New York, I frequently experience the "right hook", in which a driver who is behind me speeds up and makes a right turn across my path, cutting me off. Well, at one point during my riding in Philly, it looked like this was about to happen: a driver in the right-most auto lane passed me on my left, and started to make a right turn. But, evidently, he then noticed me right at that moment, because he stopped just as he cracked his wheel, and he let me pass. So it was an honest mistake, not an aggressive and dangerous move. On the way back home on Route 27 in Linden, a real right hook took place; and I thought to myself: "I sure know that I am back in the New York area now!"

Also notable are Philadelphia's short red-light periods, much shorter than what I am accustomed to. I can only guess about this, but I think that this contributes to the relative non-aggression on the part of that town's drivers, as they seem to know that missing a light is not such a bad thing since the red will turn green again any second. (Though the short reds did sometimes play havoc with my drinking! On several occasions, no sooner did I get the cap off the bottle than the light opposite me was yellow, and I had to re-cap the bottle without having drunk from it, and I just continued on my way.)

Philadelphia has exemplary signage. Not only are the regular street signs big and bold, featuring address and direction information, but, ahead of unusual intersections such as circles or forks, there are usually green signs with directional arrows or other essential information that will help the traveller navigate through. This is true even in the parks.

And, back to those bike lanes! So dang useful and plentiful. In the area of my hotel, the lanes on Grant Avenue and Torresdale Avenue are particularly good. (Though the lane on Academy Road is worn away, and needs repainting.) In nearby sections, Rising Sun Avenue, Tyson Avenue, Oxford Avenue, and Loretto Avenue are beatifully equipped with long-rage bike lanes.

Farther afield, the gritty Lehigh Avenue and Allegheny Avenue provide bike lanes that take the traveller all the way across into North Philly. From North Philly down into the Center City area and beyond into South Philly, there are plenty of streets that go straight through, including 5th and 6th and 12th and 13th, all of which feature bike lanes for portions.

Through the Center City area, Spruce and Pine Streets have bike lanes; but, really, almost any east-west road in that section is good for bike travel, because the car speed is very low there.

I didn't get to spend a lot of time in West Philly. However, I did manage to make visits to a couple of bike-laned streets in that part of town which I had ridden before, Woodland Avenue and the West Philly portion of Spruce Street.

I also began to explore the various local streets, especially those running at the same trajectory as Torresdale Avenue in the Frankford section, and north of there towards Northeast Philly. It is a great pleasure adding detail to my mental map, and learning what connects to what.

So, overall, it was a brilliant five-day adventure. The trip from door to door was 94 miles each way; and on my three days of riding within the city I averaged about 50 miles per day. I chose the days perfectly, as the weather was glorious for the entire period. I hope to go back soon, perhaps even on the Bolt Bus (on which you can take your bike) for a day trip.

If you live anywhere near Philadelphia, I say: go there and enjoy some great riding!
Ferdinand NYC is offline  
Old 07-24-17, 01:08 PM
  #2  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 154

Bikes: 2015 Giant Escape 2,

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 52 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Sounds like you had a great trip. next time you visit Philly, try the mup of all mups. the Schuylkill River trail. I live east of Princeton and the surrounding area there is also great for farm land road riding.
coney462 is offline  
Old 07-24-17, 02:34 PM
  #3  
Full Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 289
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 25 Post(s)
Liked 20 Times in 14 Posts
It's funny to hear the perception of a NYC cyclist about the Route 27 corridor. As one who regularly rides in the outer NJ suburbs, I think Route 27 is way too congested to be enjoyable or safe. But I guess it isn't when compared to streets in NYC (where I would never ever ever ever ride a bike).

Your mention that the route you took once previously was County Route 535, which runs parallel to Route 27 to the south and east. That is a bit better in my book, but I guess that's subjective.

If you want an even better route, swing further north and west to pass through Somerset and Hunterdon Counties. Try to follow the remaining snippets of Old York Road, which was the best way to get between NYC and Philly in the 18th Century. Parts of it no longer exist, but much of it is still there and you will find interesting historical plaques along the way. if you have some extra time, veer off of Old York Road from time to time to find roads that twist through wooded areas with babbling brooks and wildlife galore. You won't believe you are in New Jersey.
njlonghorn is offline  
Old 07-24-17, 04:19 PM
  #4  
Senior Member
 
BobbyG's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Posts: 5,987

Bikes: 2015 Charge Plug, 2007 Dahon Boardwalk, 1997 Nishiki Blazer, 1984 Nishiki International, 2006 Felt F65, 1989 Dahon Getaway V

Mentioned: 54 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1367 Post(s)
Liked 1,692 Times in 834 Posts
Very cool!
BobbyG is offline  
Old 07-25-17, 08:57 AM
  #5  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Ferdinand NYC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: New York City
Posts: 380

Bikes: Giant road bike

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 64 Post(s)
Liked 5 Times in 5 Posts
Originally Posted by coney462
Sounds like you had a great trip. next time you visit Philly, try the mup of all mups. the Schuylkill River trail. I live east of Princeton and the surrounding area there is also great for farm land road riding.
I did do a bit of the Schuylkill River trail, but only from its start at South Street up to where it crosses Kelly Drive at the Lincoln statue. I then got onto the path on the right fork, first called Sedgley Drive, then Poplar Drive, then finally 33rd Street. I then veered left onto Ridge Avenue, and turned right at Hunting Park Avenue to go back east.



Originally Posted by njlonghorn
It's funny to hear the perception of a NYC cyclist about the Route 27 corridor. As one who regularly rides in the outer NJ suburbs, I think Route 27 is way too congested to be enjoyable or safe. But I guess it isn't when compared to streets in NYC (where I would never ever ever ever ride a bike).
I would bet that your perception of New York City (you are probably thinking only of Manhattan) is from another era. The first time I rode in Manhattan was in 1981; and it was kind of like a jungle. In comparison to that, Manhattan is now a bike wonderland. It has plenty of bike lanes; a few of the bike lanes on the long north-south avenues are even protected by a row of parking. The bike lanes have had the cumulative effect of making drivers expect bicyclists; so even the streets that have no bike lanes, such as Madison Avenue, are very welcoming to ride on. On top of all that, there is a very useful path running along the Hudson River for just about the entire length of the island.

The visitor will no doubt be shocked by the rudeness and the aggressive behaviour on the part of New York drivers, just as I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of these qualities in the drivers of Philadelphia (and also of Washington, by the way). But Manhattan's bike infrastructure is superb, by far the best in the country. And the size of Manhattan -- only 23 square miles -- and its relative flatness in most locations (most historic hills were removed in the early 19th century when the street grid was laid out) make it an area where bicycling is the most efficient and most convenient way to get around.

Bike lanes don't have the same saturation in New York City outside Manhattan. They are abundant in Downtown Brooklyn (which is located in the northwestern, not the southern, part of Brooklyn), but are very sparse throughout the rest of the five boroughs. This is why the blanket distribution of Philly's bike lanes is so beautiful to me. Still, while some streets in Queens and Brooklyn badly need bike lanes, there are nevertheless many are great bikeable roads in those boroughs even without bike lanes. The Bronx is afflicted with New York City's worst hills; but it has plenty of parkland, and several useful bike lanes on key north-south streets. (The less said about Staten Island, the better.)

Much of Route 27, especially the portion that forms the border between Somerset and Middlesex Counties, resembles streets in Brooklyn and Queens -- except that Route 27 is better thanks to the glorious absence of parking.



Originally Posted by njlonghorn
Your mention that the route you took once previously was County Route 535, which runs parallel to Route 27 to the south and east. That is a bit better in my book, but I guess that's subjective.
Yes. I did County Road 535 twice to Philly (the second time I was on my way to Washington, from where I took the bus back). While Cranbury has its charm, I much prefer the vibrancy of a place such as Iselin found on 27. But, still, there were plenty of non-urban places along 27, as well, such as Franklin Township.



Originally Posted by njlonghorn
If you want an even better route, swing further north and west to pass through Somerset and Hunterdon Counties. Try to follow the remaining snippets of Old York Road, which was the best way to get between NYC and Philly in the 18th Century. Parts of it no longer exist, but much of it is still there and you will find interesting historical plaques along the way. if you have some extra time, veer off of Old York Road from time to time to find roads that twist through wooded areas with babbling brooks and wildlife galore. You won't believe you are in New Jersey.
That would be an interesting experience. But, as I mentioned, I got my fill of non-urban zones partly in Franklin Township on Route 27, and then once again on Mercer Street / Princeton Pike between Princeton and Trenton. While I can appreciate the beauty of all different kinds of landscapes, for me the most satisfying riding is not through wooded areas with babbling brooks and wildlife, but through developed cities.

And this effect is magnified in longer rides. Having taken several rides of 12 hours or more, I can say that the challenge is far more mental than it is physical. For me, passing through a series of urban areas helps alleviate the daunting part of taking a ride over such vast distances; by contrast, it was during those periods that I was going through non-urbanised zones that I found myself beset with potentially paralysing thoughts of "what the f do I think I am doing?!", and when I had to actively divert myself by singing or something like that.
Ferdinand NYC is offline  
Old 07-25-17, 09:33 AM
  #6  
Senior Member
 
indyfabz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 39,523
Mentioned: 211 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18537 Post(s)
Liked 15,902 Times in 7,467 Posts
Did you ride Frankord Ave. across Pennypack Creek? It's the oldest highway bridge in the U.S. It was part of the King's Highway between NYC and the D.C. area It pre-dates the formation of the U.S. and was used by the "founding fathers" and other to travel and exchange plans and ideas at the various inns along the route.
indyfabz is offline  
Old 07-25-17, 11:15 AM
  #7  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Ferdinand NYC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: New York City
Posts: 380

Bikes: Giant road bike

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 64 Post(s)
Liked 5 Times in 5 Posts
Originally Posted by indyfabz
Did you ride Frankord Ave. across Pennypack Creek? It's the oldest highway bridge in the U.S. It was part of the King's Highway between NYC and the D.C. area It pre-dates the formation of the U.S. and was used by the "founding fathers" and other to travel and exchange plans and ideas at the various inns along the route.
I sure did! My hotel is on Grant Avenue at Roosevelt Boulevard, which is not very far from Frankford Avenue; so several times during my stays in Philly I have wound up on that part of Frankford Avenue crossing the creek. I didn't realise that it constituted the oldest highway bridge in the U.S.

A couple of years ago I rode a large portion of the trail within Pennypack Park. I got on at its beginning at Torresdale Avenue, and rode it north, I think as far as Verree Road. I know that it goes much farther, even out of the city. But I was eager to get to know the city streets. Nevertheless, I was very impressed with that park. I even saw people bathing in the creek!
Ferdinand NYC is offline  
Old 07-25-17, 11:21 AM
  #8  
Senior Member
 
indyfabz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 39,523
Mentioned: 211 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18537 Post(s)
Liked 15,902 Times in 7,467 Posts
Originally Posted by Ferdinand NYC
I even saw people bathing in the creek!

They may have literally been bathing (as opposed to swimming).
indyfabz is offline  
Old 07-27-17, 03:15 PM
  #9  
Full Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 289
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 25 Post(s)
Liked 20 Times in 14 Posts
Originally Posted by Ferdinand NYC
I would bet that your perception of New York City (you are probably thinking only of Manhattan) is from another era. The first time I rode in Manhattan was in 1981; and it was kind of like a jungle. In comparison to that, Manhattan is now a bike wonderland. It has plenty of bike lanes; a few of the bike lanes on the long north-south avenues are even protected by a row of parking. The bike lanes have had the cumulative effect of making drivers expect bicyclists; so even the streets that have no bike lanes, such as Madison Avenue, are very welcoming to ride on. On top of all that, there is a very useful path running along the Hudson River for just about the entire length of the island.
You are right that Iím thinking of Manhattan city streets, and in particular the areas of Manhattan Iím in from time to time (between the 40s and 60s, usually on the west side). Iím nervous driving there, and donít have any interest in riding a bike. I could be talked into a ride along the Hudson River and/or through Central Park, but thatís about it. Even if you are in a bike lane, you have to be on constant lookout for other bikes, pedestrians, traffic lights, wayward cars, etc. -- not to mention the pollution and noise. (Do I sound like a cranky old man???)

Originally Posted by Ferdinand NYC
Much of Route 27, especially the portion that forms the border between Somerset and Middlesex Counties, resembles streets in Brooklyn and Queens -- except that Route 27 is better thanks to the glorious absence of parking.
If thatís what Brooklyn and Queens are like, but with parking along the streets, I know what I need to know.

Originally Posted by Ferdinand NYC
That would be an interesting experience. But, as I mentioned, I got my fill of non-urban zones partly in Franklin Township on Route 27, and then once again on Mercer Street / Princeton Pike between Princeton and Trenton. While I can appreciate the beauty of all different kinds of landscapes, for me the most satisfying riding is not through wooded areas with babbling brooks and wildlife, but through developed cities.
And this effect is magnified in longer rides. Having taken several rides of 12 hours or more, I can say that the challenge is far more mental than it is physical. For me, passing through a series of urban areas helps alleviate the daunting part of taking a ride over such vast distances; by contrast, it was during those periods that I was going through non-urbanised zones that I found myself beset with potentially paralysing thoughts of "what the f do I think I am doing?!", and when I had to actively divert myself by singing or something like that.
It takes all kinds, right? Your ideal ride is barely tolerable for me, and my ideal ride is barely tolerable for you. It isnít unusual for me to go miles at a time without being passed by a car, which would probably drive you bat-5h!t crazy.
njlonghorn is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
davlafont
Northeast
24
08-06-18 10:08 AM
jade408
Advocacy & Safety
17
03-01-16 05:47 AM
woodysroad
Touring
23
09-11-12 07:07 PM
tornado
Southeast
2
08-31-12 02:37 PM
ak08820
Northeast
11
05-17-12 08:42 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.