The Borough of Queens has been added.
I’ve been riding through Queens for years. However, starting in Manhattan and crossing the Queensboro Bridge, it was hard to get beyond the idea that the borough is choked with cars driving too fast. One of my regular destinations in the county was the Kissena Velodrome, for Wednesday night races, and to get there, I first tried riding along Queens Boulevard for miles, a ride that was no fun at rush hour thanks to aggressive drivers and a bit scary after dark as the empty road and regular lights seemed to invite excessive speeding.
I then tried Northern Boulevard, which was much better, but still unpleasant. The best part of Northern was that I only had to be on it for a few miles before moving over to the 34th Avenue bike lane.
Now, thanks to the efforts of the Department of Transportation, there is a marked route that takes you from the Queensboro to the 34th Avenue bike lane while avoiding busy streets. It’s delightful. Sunnyside Gardens feels like a hidden gem of the city.
Riding around Queens, I feel I found several more places I’d bestow that designation. My current favorite is the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway. It’s hard to believe the road began life as a private highway, and one that bootleggers used, but that’s part of the fun. I only wish the city and state had salvaged more of the road, as it originally went 45 miles out to Lake Ronkonkoma. It would have been a great greenway, if only people thought that way when it was taken over by New York State in 1938.
Looking at a Queens map, it seems that the largest greenspaces are cemeteries. At one time, cemeteries were open to the public for not only communing with the dead, but also as spaces for strolling and reflection. While riding around cemetery grounds might not be appropriate, the roads encircling these final resting places should be ripe for riding. We’re hoping that the city sees value in creating bike lanes and paths here, as well as in other places in Queens. It’s a big borough and it needs more places to ride.
Free rides in: Cunningham Park for mountain bikers, Kissena Velodrome for all, and Ridgewood Reservoir for those who want something short and sweet.
The rides are:
Staten Island will be published next.