While I was in New York City for a short morning appointment, I had the rest of the day to explore. After a morning tour of the United Nations Headquarters and a brief stop at the Guggenheim Museum, I decided to rent a Citi Bike and bike (mostly) along the Hudson River from Central Park to the Battery Park. It was a nice March day, and worked out well on the bike.
Walking around NYC, I noticed the Citi Bike bike share service. They have a convenient phone app to coordinate billing, and bike racks all over the city. For under $5, you can do a half-hour ride, and return to any other open rack in the city.
Citi Bike has several different pricing options:
- Single ride: $4.49 for the first 30 minutes, then $0.26 per minute.
- Day pass: $19/day for unlimited 30 minute rides.
- E-bike: Sometimes available for a surcharge
- Annual Subscription: $205/year for unlimited 45 minute rides.
One caveat: there are no helmets provided. I was ok with this, since I was mostly biking down a river-side bike path, but I wouldn’t necessarily go barreling through Times Square without a helmet. Also, kids under 14 are required to wear helmets in NY.
I’d just left the Guggenheim Museum, and was roughly at 80th Street and Central Park, when I decided to pick up the bike. I wasn’t quite sure how far I’d go, but had heard of the Hudson River Greenway, and wanted to bike by some of the waterfront. Roughly speaking, the path was:
- Riding west on 77th Street from Central Park on a street bike lane, towards the Hudson River.
- Once at the river, riding south on the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway portion of the Hudson River Greenway.
- The part by the Upper West Side felt somewhat more like a “normal commute bike trail” albeit with a nice river and city view.
- It started felt more interesting roughly midtown after 50th street or so – the Intrepid Museum, various cruise piers, the High Line, Little Island Park. With more time, I could see one getting off and potentailly walking around the separate pedestrian areas.
- The stretch near downtown was most varied – watching the Freedom Tower get closer, the Downtown and Jersey skylines, approaching Battery Park, Statue of Liberty, and ending at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.
While I wouldn’t necessarily hype the ride to “must-do” status – if you do like biking, it’s a really nice way to see part of the city, and I’m glad that tried this.
I picked up the bike with the app around Central Park and 77th Street. The app screen showed plenty of options for places to pick up or drop off the bike. Furthermore, the app had green lines to highlight streets that had separated bike lanes on them.
I biked down the dedicated bike lane on 77th Street towards the Hudson, which was nice enough (maybe 0.75 miles in total). I did encounter a double-parked car in the bike lane, but it still was relatively calm.
There were a few detour signs on getting to the river, but I made it readily enough.
This path is part of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, as well as the Hudson River Greenway. The Hudson River Greenway apparently goes all the way to Albany. In recent years, the state has pieced together the 750 mile Empire State Trail to connect NYC to Canada and Buffalo.
Some of the initial parts were a little non-descript:
But the views more than made up for it!
The bikes were mostly completely separate from the pedestrians. If I lived in Manhattan, this would be an awesome way to get to work!
The ride became a bit more interesting once I approached the various piers – note the Intrepid Sea Museum, as well as various sea piers:
The Little Island Amphitheater (all the pillars) looked interesting to go back to.
Some of the more interesting sights were a little harder to see on bike, but I probably wouldn’t have come here at all on foot.
I could tell I was getting closer to downtown as the Freedom Tower got bigger on the horizon.
There were some stoplights impacting the path towards the end. Eventually, the trail made its way to Battery Park and with its view of the Statue of Liberty:
Finally, I made it to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. If you want a budget view of the Statue of Liberty, consider taking a round trip “tour” on the ferry. There won’t be any commentary, and you won’t get super close, but it is quite inexpensive. We did it when the kids were little, but a few years later, found that we preferred a harbor cruise.
I then returned my bike at the bike rack next to the ferry station, making sure that the app confirmed the bike was docked properly. My 48 minute ride cost me $9.98, plus the price of an ice cream cone!
All-in-all it was a nice way to spend an hour seeing the city and takes much less energy and time than walking the whole path. I’d definitely recommend looking into the bike share if you’re exploring NYC.
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