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How to Choose

How to Plan the Ultimate Bike Route in New York City: The Complete Guide

By Konstantin Kaliuzhnyj

Table of contents:

Introduction Getting Started with Route Planning Obtain Resources Set Route Goals Consider Safety and Ability Level Mapping Your Route Choosing Start and End Points Incorporating Scenic Detours Planning Loop Routes Have Backup Options Executing Your Route Bike Inspection and Gear Navigation and Apps Safety and Etiquette Dealing with Changes Types of Rides in NYC North-South Routes East-West Routes Bridges and Paths Parks and Waterfronts FAQ How do I stay safe while biking in NYC? What should I do if my bike breaks down during a ride? Where can I find the best places to lock up my bike? How can I extend my range for long-distance rides? How do I start planning a bike route in NYC? What are the best apps for finding bike routes in NYC? What safety considerations should I keep in mind when biking in NYC? How can I incorporate points of interest into my NYC bike route? Conclusion You Might Also Like


With over 1,000 miles of bike lanes across the five boroughs, New York City is a cyclist's paradise waiting to be explored. Planning your perfect route is essential to having a fun, safe, and efficient bike adventure in the Big Apple.

This comprehensive guide will walk through all the steps of planning a bike route in NYC. We'll cover setting route goals, mapping logistics, gearing up, route types, safety tips, and more. With the right preparation, you'll be equipped to cruise through the streets like a local on two wheels.

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Getting Started with Route Planning

Before mapping out your route, take some time to define what kind of ride you want to have and gather the necessary resources.

Obtain Resources

  • Get a map. Pick up a free NYC Bike Map at local shops, or download the NYC DOT bike map app for offline access. Study the bike lanes and paths across the city.
  • Check apps. Apps like Google Maps, Strava, and Komoot have route planning tools optimized for cyclists.
  • Review events. Check schedules for street festivals, parades or other events that may close down streets.

Set Route Goals

  • Total distance. Decide how many miles you aim to ride. This will shape the route length and location.
  • Destinations. Are there specific places you want to see on your ride? Key destinations can provide endpoints or scenic detours.
  • Loop or out-and-back. Loop routes allow you to see more. Out-and-back rides minimize new terrain.
  • Theme. Do you want a food tour by bike? An architecture ride? Let themes guide your route.

Consider Safety and Ability Level

  • Road conditions. Plan routes using protected bike lanes if possible. Avoid construction, potholes and unsafe intersections.
  • Fitness level. Match distance and terrain to your current cycling ability. Work up to longer distances.
  • Traffic. Look at traffic patterns along potential routes. Avoid excessively busy roads as needed.
  • Weather. Wind, rain and heat impact visibility, traction and stamina. Have backup indoor spots.

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Mapping Your Route

Once you've set some ride goals, it's time to start mapping out your specific route.

Choosing Start and End Points

  • Near bike lanes. Begin and end near protected bike lanes or Citibike stations when possible.
  • Logical locations. Start somewhere you can easily access. End somewhere convenient for after your ride.
  • Parking. If driving, identify parking garages with bike access near the start point.

Incorporating Scenic Detours

  • Parks. Weave through scenic parks like Central Park, Prospect Park or the Hudson River Greenway.
  • Bridges. Ride over iconic bridges like the Brooklyn Bridge for amazing views.
  • Cultural detours. Pass by museums, architectural highlights, and other sights.

Planning Loop Routes

  • Circular is better. Plan loop routes instead of out-and-back whenever feasible. You'll see more sights.
  • Connect greenways. Link park loops and waterfront paths together into larger loops.
  • Minimize repeats. Design the loop to avoid retracing too many sections.

Have Backup Options

  • Multiple routes. Map out 2-3 potential routes in case of street closures or other changes.
  • Bail-out points. Identify subway stations or CitiBike docks along the way in case you need to end your bike ride early.

Executing Your Route

Once you've mapped your route, make other logistical preparations to ensure your ride goes smoothly.

Bike Inspection and Gear

  • Safety check. Inspect brakes, tires, gears. Tune it up yourself or get a bike shop tune-up if needed.
  • Repair kit. Pack a saddlebag with a spare tube, tire levers, patch kit, pump, and multi-tool.
  • Visibility. Use lights and reflectors if riding at night or in low light.
  • Hydration. Bring a water bottle and snacks to fuel your ride.
  • Digital map. Have your route mapped in a bike app that you can reference during your ride.
  • Phone mount. Secure your phone to your handlebars for easy viewing.
  • Battery pack. Bring a backup charger for your phone.
  • Offline access. Download offline maps in case you lose cell service during the ride.

Safety and Etiquette

  • Helmet. Always wear a properly fitted bike helmet.
  • Rules of the road. Follow all traffic signs, signals, and lane markings.
  • Awareness. Use hand signals for turns, watch for opening car doors, yield to pedestrians.
  • Secure parking. Use bike racks or take your bike inside at stops to avoid theft.

Dealing with Changes

  • Route detours. Be ready to detour around closed streets or paths. Have backups handy.
  • Fatigue. Take breaks as needed. End early if overly tired.
  • Mechanical issues. If your bike breaks down, walk to a bike shop or transit station.
  • Weather. Seek shelter during storms. Return home if conditions worsen.

Types of Rides in NYC

Now let's explore some classic NYC bike routes from North to South, East to West, and along signature bridges, paths, parks, and waterfronts.

North-South Routes

Central Park Loop (6.1 miles)

A must-do route through the heart of Manhattan. Take in ponds, lawns, architecture and public art.

Hudson River Greenway (14.5 miles)

Follow the waterfront path from the George Washington Bridge to Battery Park.

Brooklyn Waterfront (5.5+ miles)

Ride along Brooklyn's coast from Greenpoint to Bay Ridge for epic views.

East-West Routes

Crosstown Protected Bike Lanes (7 miles)

Link the 1st, 2nd, 5th and 9th Ave protected bike lanes across Manhattan.

Quintessential Queens (12 miles)

Ride through Long Island City, Astoria and Woodside for a taste of classic Queens.

Cultural Brooklyn (8 miles)

See Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Museum, Botanic Garden and Grand Army Plaza in one ride.

Bridges and Paths

The Mighty 3 Bridge Ride (15 miles)

Ride over the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and Williamsburg Bridge for gorgeous vistas.

FDR Boardwalk to Verrazano (20 miles)

Take in sparkling Lower NY Bay views as you beach hop to the giant Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

Grand Concourse to Minisink Valley Trail (30 miles)

Ride through the Bronx into northern Manhattan and connect with the scenic Minisink trail.

Parks and Waterfronts

The Great North Loop (35 miles)

From Yankee Stadium to Inwood Hill Park, this northern route loops through riverside parks and gardens.

Eastern Island Odyssey (12 miles)

A family-friendly ride to Randall's Island, then Roosevelt Island via bike paths.

Jamaica Bay Greenway (19 miles)

Cruise along the bay to see JFK Airport and the salt marshes of Gateway National Recreation Area.


How do I stay safe while biking in NYC?

  1. Follow all traffic laws and wear a helmet.
  2. Use protected bike lanes whenever possible.
  3. Use lights and reflectors when riding at night.
  4. Watch for car doors opening into the bike lane.
  5. Yield to pedestrians and communicate intentions clearly.

What should I do if my bike breaks down during a ride?

  1. First, try a quick repair like re-inflating a flat tire if possible.
  2. If the issue can't be fixed, walk the bike to the nearest transit station or bike shop.
  3. Have the bike shop address the issue and take alternate transportation home.

Where can I find the best places to lock up my bike?

  1. Look for official MTA bike racks at subway stations and high-traffic areas.
  2. Avoid scaffolding, street signs, and other unofficial locking spots that may not be secure.
  3. When possible, bring your bike inside stores and venues to prevent theft.

How can I extend my range for long-distance rides?

  1. Build up your mileage gradually over time to increase endurance.
  2. Bring snacks like energy bars and electrolyte drinks to fuel on the go.
  3. Utilize CitiBike stations to exchange for a fresh bike midway through longer rides. Ride electric bikes for a boost up hills and over long distances.

How do I start planning a bike route in NYC?

To start planning a bike route in NYC, first determine your start and end points. Consider using online maps and apps specifically designed for cyclists, which can help you find bike lanes and trails. Check NYC's official transportation website for updated maps of bike paths and greenways. Factor in the type of scenery you prefer, whether it's city streets, parks, or waterfronts, and decide if you're looking for a leisurely ride or a more intense workout. Planning ahead can help you avoid heavily trafficked areas and ensure a safer, more enjoyable ride.

What are the best apps for finding bike routes in NYC?

Some of the best apps for finding bike routes in NYC include Strava, which offers detailed maps and social features; Komoot, known for its route planning and navigation capabilities; and the official NYC Bike Map app, which provides comprehensive information on bike lanes, routes, and bike-friendly streets. These apps can help you explore different routes, track your rides, and connect with other cyclists. Always ensure the app is updated for the latest route information.

What safety considerations should I keep in mind when biking in NYC?

Safety considerations when biking in NYC include wearing a helmet, using lights and reflectors when riding in low light, and following traffic laws. Be aware of your surroundings, especially near intersections and parked cars. Use bike lanes whenever possible, and signal your turns to alert other road users. It's also wise to stay alert for pedestrians and to avoid riding on sidewalks. Carrying a basic repair kit and knowing how to use it can also enhance your safety on longer rides.

How can I incorporate points of interest into my NYC bike route?

To incorporate points of interest into your NYC bike route, first identify landmarks, parks, or neighborhoods you'd like to visit. Use a mapping tool to plot these locations and look for bike-friendly routes that connect them. Consider the distance between points and try to create a loop that brings you back to your starting point. Planning stops for rest, hydration, and exploration can make your ride more enjoyable. Websites and apps focused on tourism and local attractions can also offer inspiration for your route.


With a bit of planning, any cyclist can map out an epic bike adventure in New York City. Pull together your resources, pinpoint some scenic detours, gear up for the ride, and get ready to see the city's one-of-a-kind sights by bike. Just take it one pedal stroke at a time. Let the city streets roll under you, and enjoy the ride!

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