It might not be the sexiest way to lead into a discussion about cycling, but if you want to fully appreciate the ride along Brooklyn’s spectacular Shore Parkway you’ll just have to grit it out.
Don’t worry, we’ll make it quick.
In the decade leading up to WWII, the city of New York began construction on an ambitious civil engineering project that the Times dubbed “the greatest municipal highway venture ever attempted in an urban setting.” Talk about pressure to perform. This was the beginning of the Belt Parkway – a 36 mile-long stretch of pavement and concrete wrapping around southern Brooklyn and well into Queens.
Luckily for city residents, the architects behind this bold endeavor were a foresightful bunch. Realizing that the stretch of coastal roadway running along Bay Ridge was prime waterfront real estate, the decision was made to install a pedestrian promenade along New York Bay, overlooking Staten Island to the west and the towering behemoths of Lower Manhattan to the north.
And so it was that the Shore Parkway was born, just a few months after Walt Disney’s Pinocchio had made its grand theatrical debut in 1940.
These days the Plymouth Roadkings may be gone, but this storied 5-mile esplanade in south Brooklyn continues to house one of the most celebrated and scenic bike paths in all of New York.
Its curved course takes cyclists from Owl’s Head Park in the north, past the American Veteran’s Memorial Pier and sweeping views of the Verrazano Bridge, down to the humble, harbor-front Bensonhurst Park.
Find the Perfect Ride for Cycling the Shore Parkway Bike Path: See Bikes in Brooklyn
If you’re looking for exhilaration, the tarmac is well maintained for just about the entirety of the ride, and the separated cycling and pedestrian lanes make it one of the few places in the city where cruising an absolute joy. Should you prefer to slow down and savor the vistas, however, rest assured that you’ll find benches aplenty, and no shortage of photo ops along the way.
Once you’ve hit Bensonhurst, it’s possible to connect the Shore Parkway to the Belt Parkway Queens trail via Neptune Ave, essentially creating one long 18-mile path to Howard Beach. Some actually consider them to be two parts of the same trail, however in reality each ride is so different that you’re better off treating each as its own distinct entity. That way, you’re free to make the connection if you’d like, or simply savor all of that Shore Parkway goodness on its own.