Manhattan is arguably the most famous island in the United States (no disrespect, Oahu). That said, the Manhattan cycling scene is often undervalued because of the perceived danger of riding in the street. Plus, you have to navigate through 60 million annual tourists and a population density of around 67k people per square mile. Simply put, it is the city that never sleeps…
However, we’re here to let you in on a little secret. There’s a difference between Manhattan the borough and Manhattan the island. For cyclists, there are plenty of opportunities around the island to break free from typical city gridlock.
Tucked inside the borders of Manhattan are three little-known urban islands. Specifically, each island offers its own bike-friendly routes and it doesn’t take long to reach them from any part of the “big island.” That said, you won’t be able to get out for serious miles (they’re all pretty small). However, each represents an opportunity to get away for a bit and catch some great views of the city skyline.
Find the Perfect Ride for Cycling all of New York’s Urban Islands:
RANDALL’S & WARD’S ISLAND PARKS
For motorists, Randall’s & Ward’s Island Parks are common sites when crossing the RFK (formerly Triboro) Bridge. However, they are also well-kept secrets for Manhattan cycling and provide a nice respite from bridge-related gridlock. Each park is located on the same island stretch (Randall’s to the North, Ward’s to the South). Most importantly, it’s easiest to get there via the pedestrian-only Ward’s Island Bridge on E 102nd St. Read more.
Located under the 59th Street Bridge and most famous for its elevated tram, Roosevelt Island is a hidden gem located near the heart of midtown Manhattan. To enjoy what Manhattan cycling has to offer on the island, you should check out a 4-mile loop around its perimeter. Along the way, you’ll see takes you past a lighthouse, an abandoned smallpox hospital and some truly incredible vistas of Midtown Manhattan. There are a number of ways to get on to the island. For example – you can take the subway (F Train), the famous tram we mentioned earlier, or via the Roosevelt Island Bridge from Queens. Read more.
From community gardens to 19th century coastal forts, Governors Island offers 172 acres of Manhattan cycling you won’t find anywhere else. However, be advised that the island is only open between May and October. So, you won’t be able to take your fat bike out there in January! Unlike the previous two island destinations, you’ll have to take a ferry from Brooklyn or Queens to get there. Read more.