That’s the average number of visitors welcomed by Central Park on any given year, drawn in as much by its beauty as its celebrity. From woods and gardens to ravines and reservoirs, there’s very little this 1.3 square mile greenspace doesn’t offer Manhattan’s nature-starved population.
Oh yeah, and the scenery isn’t too shabby either.
For serious cyclists, however, the park’s popularity has come at a price. What was once a 6.2-mile loop teeming with tri-groups has slowly transitioned into a much more restrictive area for bikers, due in large part to a series of high-profile pedestrian accidents. Ticketing has become commonplace, particularly around stop lights, and the speed limit has been dropped to a yawn-inducing 20 mph.
Which isn’t to say that renting a bike and pedaling Central Park for yourself is a bad idea; quite the contrary. With its hills, fresh air, and quintessential New York views, this is a nearly impossible option for visiting cyclists to pass up.
If you want to get the most out of what is still one of Manhattan’s most pristine contiguous bike trails, Spinlister has put together a list of need-to-knows that will help mitigate any unwanted surprises along the way. Check them out below, along with our Central Park Loop bike map.
- GO WITH THE FLOW. No matter where you’re starting from, the traffic circling around Central Park’s 6.2-mile loop moves in a counterclockwise direction. As soon as you enter, go right.
- STAY ON THE ROAD. Off road biking and cycling on pedestrian paths are prohibited. Your safest bet for a hassle-free ride is to simply stay on the main, well-marked roadway.
- WATCH FOR PEDS. Pedestrians have the right of way at all times, and cyclists aren’t always the the first thing on their minds. Proceed smartly, especially around traffic signals and crosswalks.
- COME EARLY OR STAY LATE. If you want to minimize the risk of receiving a traffic ticket for surpassing the 20 mph speed limit, consider starting your ride either early in the morning or later in the evening. Before 9 am and after 9 pm are good benchmarks to shoot for.