One ride. Three boroughs.
This ride is in Queens for less than a third of its duration, but it’s a great central location, and the ride demonstrates how easy it is get around the city. The Queens Brooklyn Manhattan ride takes in lots of the city and is accessible to even more. Superb views are also to be had from two big bridges, the Williamsburg and the Queensboro. And the third bridge, the Pulaski, has some pretty good views as well.
Three bridges. Many neighborhoods.
There’s an old joke that you’re not a New Yorker until you mourn the loss of something “that used to be right there.” Of course, the city is changing every day; even tourists can get in on the act.
While researching rides for the WTBNYC book, we did this ride a few times, and even while riding this route, we saw major changes. The First Avenue bike lane was being created, the Queens side entry to the Queensboro Bridge bike path was being built, among other things. It looked different when the book was published. And it looks different still today.
Change is a constant. Loss and gain.
But in the greater scheme of things, there is lots of loss on display, the greatest of which is the decay of industrial New York. Both the Queens and Brooklyn segments ride through old industrial zones, where lots of stuff was made. Much of the Brooklyn section passes by industrial buildings that were either fallow or have been converted to post-industrial uses. The ride passes the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which had American defense shipbuilding operations from the close of the Revolutionary War until 1966. At one time, the yard employed 10,000 workers. Now, it rises again, but with many fewer workers, and less heavy machinery.
Drivers, no doubt, will be mourning the loss of driving lanes, but those lanes in all three boroughs will make your riding easier and their driving safer. You will experience a diversity of on-street bike paths in the city. From the sharrows-type to the protected lane. All the same, the riding in Brooklyn is amongst the most pleasant of the ride, as the balance between bikes and cars seems to shift heavily toward bikes.
Once on the Williamsburg Bridge, you get to survey industrial Brooklyn, and the Navy Yard, survey the East River and the way Midtown rises like a mountain from the plains of old tenements of the Lower East Side. The first mile or so takes you through what was once considered immigrant havens, and what was assumed to be breeding grounds for criminals. Now, it’s been largely gentrified, though most of the tenement buildings remain.
First at last.
First Avenue takes you through the rest of the East Village, and you get to experience various iterations of slum clearance developments en route to midtown, and then back to the Queensboro, which deposits you back where you began.
Victuals and beverages.
Oy, you’re passing through several excellent foodie alleys on this ride. The ride goes through great restaurant streets in Long Island City, Greenpoint, and the Lower East Side; it’s hard to choose. Our preference is the Lower East Side, but there are good eats by the ride start/finish. Literally next door to the start is Manetta’s Ristorante, pizza and Italian fare. Just about across the street is Sweetleaf Coffee and Tea for something lighter.
Going beyond the ride.
Building 92 At the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It’s a bit off the route in Brooklyn, but it’s a historic building with art exhibitions in a converted industrial space. The building itself is from 1857, and the area is decommissioned naval property that they’re finding new uses for. Go to one of the gates and you’ll be directed there.
Specs (Queens Brooklyn Manhattan Ride)
Distance: 10.8 miles
Terrain: Varied. Almost the entire route is over bike paths, but they vary from a simple striped lane to protected lanes
Ride Rating: @@
Notes: A study in contrasts, both on the roads and on the bridges
Q07, M05, M07, M08, and Bk02 are all nearby.