Bicycling in New York City would have been a daunting and dangerous endeavor when I lived there many years ago. And it still would be in such congested parts of the city as Midtown Manhattan.
But over the past few years, the Big Apple has become one of America’s most bicycle-friendly cities and leads the nation in one key measure of cycling insfrastructure: 500 miles of bike lanes.
The League of American Bicyclists, which keeps track of how American cities accommodate cyclists, announced on April 30 that New York City received a “silver” ranking in the league’s latest round of awards to 21 communities around the country.
The league praised the leadership of Janette Sadik-Khan, commissioner of New York’s Department of Transportation, for the city’s “great strides” in becoming more bicycle-friendly since the league awarded New York an honorable mention in 2004 and bronze recognition in 2007.
When I lived in Manhattan, I circumnavigated the island — as tourists still do today — on a Circle Line cruise. Now you can do it by bicycle on the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, a bike and pedestrian route that skirts the perimeter of Manhattan.
The waterfront greenway was the subject of a nice first-person piece by Jane Margolies in today’s New York Times.
“In 2002 Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg pledged to have the Manhattan loop built, and the city began stitching together existing pedestrian walkways, esplanades and city streets into a single route — in some areas paving connections and in others simply planting signs pointing the way,” Margolies wrote after riding the route.
“Though the Greenway does encompass some city streets, mostly it snakes for more than 28 miles along rivers, under bridges and through parks.”
Margolies wrote that “cycling the route is on the whole satisfying and at times exhilarating — a boon for bikers like me who get bored going round and round Central Park.” (See slideshow of the route.)
Among the people Margolies met in her ride around Manhattan was Dr. Edward Fishkin, medical director of Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center.
A cyclist for 25 years who bikes up to 250 miles a week, Fishkin said of the current state of cycling in New York: “Compared to what riding was like in the city 20 years ago, this is phenomenal.”
If any readers will be in New York next weekend, an organization called the East Coast Greenway is organizing a slow-paced, 32-mile ride around Manhattan’s perimeter on May 14. The ride starts at 10 a.m. on the East River Greenway at 61st Street.