The glory of lower Manhattan.
People love clear sight lines. Maybe it’s an evolutionary thing about feeling secure. Riding along the Hudson and East rivers, as this loop does, is calming. And there are plenty of places where you can stop, sit down, lie down, read, or watch the river go by.
Bikes are best.
The West Side Greenway is the closest thing to a bike highway in New York City. It is said to be the most traveled bike path in the United States. Check it out during the morning and evening rush hours or on summer weekends and you’ll agree. You’ll probably wonder why the city doesn’t widen the path or start turning over streets entirely to bikes.
Both the East and West Side Greenways are great for commuting, sightseeing, and exercise. In terms of places to go in New York where you can just cruise with your head in the clouds or turned sideways to take in the view over the river, this ride is nearly unparalleled.
There is a marked contrast between the east and west portions of this ride. The east side is both more crowded and less developed. More crowded because of the tourist traps on the East river and because the pathway winds around parking lots and working industrial spaces. And less developed because you can see that the path is a work in progress. Where the path is finished on the east side, it feels immaculate.
In terms of exercise value, fit cyclists who are looking to go at a fast clip should probably skip this ride. For them, this loop qualifies as a recovery day. For all other cyclists, this will be good exercise and a decent day’s outing.
Riding across the island is much easier than it seems, at least the way this ride goes. There are only four blocks, perhaps, that feel trafficky.
Potions and Provisions
There’s too many food options in Lower Manhattan, so we’ll just write about convenient food. This loop passes South Street Seaport; the tourist magnet could suck you in. Or, you can find food carts along both the bike paths. Or the carts in front of Battery Park and the Staten Island Ferry terminal. For sit-down, you could stop by Ess-a-Bagel, just off the route by a few feet.
Hudson River Park, which runs from Battery Park to 59th street along the Hudson, is not only a great playground and a great place to relax, but they have plenty of events, concerts, and films on evenings and weekends all summer long. LIttle Island is their newest creation.
Particulars (Lower Manhattan Bike Ride)
Distance: 9.6 miles
Way to the start: If you’re in Manhattan and live north of 21st Street, head south. If you live south of 21st street, head in any direction, you’ll eventually link up with this ride. For people who prefer public transit, just about every train line in New York City passes through the lower part of the island. Just take a train and you’ll eventually get inside the circle.
Elevation: 353 Feet
Terrain: Mostly greenways, a few roads
Ride Rating: @
Notes: So much water. Such good views.