M09 Governors Island


Borough(s): Manhattan, Brooklyn, Distance: 2 miles, Elevation: 23 Feet, Terrain: park roads, Ride Rating: @

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Car-Free Pleasure Center.

Governor’s Island Bike Ride is short and easy  and fun and you can easily exhaust all the roads within an hour. While people come here to ride, they also come to make a day trip of the islande, so many of the cyclists are here for lunch and a slow afternoon on the water; an escape from the bustle of the city. The car-free roads also make it a great place for kids to ride along with their parents. Bike rentals are available and within easy walk of ferry.

Governors Island Bike Ride

Riding the Gov.

Turning Governor’s Island into a public park has been a dream of New York City officials for over a century. It’s only been in the last decade that the vision has become a reality.  And it’s still a work-in-progress, which only makes it more enticing.

Originally a residence for the Governor of New York Colony, hence the name, the island had been a military installation since the Revolutionary War. First, it housed a fort that helped hold off the British in the Battle of Long Island. Then a second fort was added in anticipation of future wars. It remained a military training ground and military prison, and eventually a Coast Guard base.

Now, it is a summertime destination. The free ferry service helps, as does the private beach that has been built, though this one is mainly for sun and concerts; there’s no swimming in the East River (and that’s a good thing). But the art gallery, the forts, the classic architecture, not to mention the great views of New York Harbor and the seemingly omnipresent cool breeze are also big draws.

The island forces a separation.

We can attest to the fact that the physical separation as well as the charms of the island have a calming effect. On our first trip, we had a hard time leaving, though we weren’t doing anything in particular. The beach gets boring? Find a hammock on the south end. Tired of that, move on to the art gallery. Want to have lunch, find a food truck and a table and some chairs? Easily done. Work on your tan, sit in the shade under a tree. It’s all possible in this beautiful little outpost of the city.

The riding is so simple, you don’t really need a log. The perimeter loop is just over two miles long, most of the roads are on the northern end of the island, and they’re pretty short. The Northeast Loop we have listed is the only one you might want to pay attention to. If you ever get lost, you’ll find your bearings, if not a posted map of the island, within a few minutes.


An outdoor café and beach are just to the right of the Manhattan ferry landing. There are several food trucks and stands situated throughout the island.  If you want to get more involved there are grill stations; you’ll need a permit.  Less involved?  Brown bag it with a water bottle (lots of fountains on the island) and some PB&J.

Beyond Bikes

Depends on age and stages and what you’ve got time for.  Check out the Sculptors Guild Gallery at 403 Colonels Row toward the middle of the island. There are both indoor and outdoor installations. If that’s too much work, there’s a beach for sunning, volleyball, and eating right next to the ferry.  The ecologically minded should check out the Compost Learning Center.  If you’ve got a kid, let them get dangeresque at the Adventure Learning Center.  And the forts and views are great.  And more.


Minutiae (Governors Island Bike Ride)

Borough(s): Manhattan, Brooklyn

How to get there: Take the free Governor’s Island Ferry from downtown Manhattan, 10 South Street. The ferry slip is located just to the northeast of the Staten Island ferry terminal. The ferry runs on Fridays and weekends in the summer. There’s a Brooklyn ferry from Pier Six in Brooklyn Bridge Park. It runs on weekends only. For free ferry info, go here.  There’s a pay ferry, too.

Distance: 2 miles

Elevation: 23 Feet

Terrain: Park Roads

Ride Rating: @

Notes: Great for a destination.

Includes: A PDF with intelligence.  Don’t worry about getting lost here.  It’s an easy way to get started on navigation.  For more more complex rides, you’ll get a GPX file.  Info on how to work the magic is found here.

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JP Partland

Writer and rider.
Or rider and writer.
Author of Where To Bike NYC.
As well as: Tour Fever, The World of BMX, and Mountain Bike Madness.
Also the leader of Just Riding Along, http://www.jralong.com

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M09 Governors Island