July 3, 2009
I began my ride where so many other great things in New York began: Brooklyn. The very first bike lane in New York City was the Ocean Parkway that gets you from Prospect Park to Coney Island, so this was the natural place for me to start my ride on all the bike lanes.
I took the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan, and found myself surrounded by concrete on the bike lane connecting the bridge to Tillary Street in downtown Brooklyn. Lucky for us plans are in the works to spruce up what should be a grand entrance to Brooklyn.
The Ocean Parkway Greenway is a scenic route through many diverse neighborhoods, but it is actually not a particularly pleasant bike route as far as greenways go. For part of the route, the surface is concrete, like a sidewalk, and though there is a dedicated, separated bike lane, you have to cross large intersections every block. These intersections are complex because Ocean Parkway is a high-volume two-way street with service roads on either side. This leads to very long red lights. Also, the bike lane is at a higher grade than the street, so you are constantly going up and down small hills. It definitely took a toll on my body. That said, there are lots of other bikers on the path, and lots of pedestrians and people sitting on benches on the adjacent sidewalk, so it is an interesting ride that gets you close to the community.
Regretfully, I went to Coney Island the day before the event that Coney Island is best known for: the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. It took about two hours to get from the Upper East Side to Coney Island, so I didn't really have the energy to check out the rides and attractions, which really speaks to one of the limitations of using a bike to get around. I'll have to come back on subway next time.
I finished the ride by going through Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay to Bedford Avenue, which takes you all the way to Williamsburg. I continued through Greenpoint and Long Island City to the Queensborough Bridge.