Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Brooklyn Bridge Bike Path

Less Hate, More Love

People look at me like I'm a maniac when I tell them that I cycle in NYC.
They assume that I'm either a misguided tree-hugger, an out-of-work college student, or chronically suicidal.
Well, I'm none of those things.
I don't do it for the environment, I don't do it because of the economy, and I certainly don't do it for the exercise.
I do it because it's super-fun.

Sometimes that's hard to remember and I get caught up in the negatives - like bad roads, and crazy drivers, and angry pedestrians, and bus exhaust, and no place to park, and leaving work to find your bike stolen.

In an attempt to remind myself of why I love biking in NYC, I've decided to post some of my favorite rides - and because bike dummy is about discovering things that everyone else seems to know - I'm going to start with:

The Pedestrian and Bike Path of the Brooklyn Bridge:


The Manhattan entrance is easy to find, but hard to get to if you aren't used to riding in traffic.
It is directly across from City Hall at Park Row and Centre Streets.
The safest thing to do if you are nervous is dismount and walk from the corner of Centre and Chambers Streets to the pedestrian entrance.

The pathway across the bridge is separated into two distinct lanes; the southern lane (on the right if you are coming from Manhattan) is for pedestrians, the northern lane for cyclists. These are clearly marked with icons, but are largely ignored by tourists who don't know any better. It can get very crowded on the bridge and you need to watch for pedestrians randomly stepping out in front of you.

The Brooklyn side has two access points.
The stairs under the overpass at Cadman Plaza East and Prospect Streets, or the ramp at Tillary and Adams Streets.
The city recently added much needed signs and lighting to the Cadman Plaza Stairway entrance that is heavily used by pedestrians. It is under the overpass at the East side of Cadman Plaza Park. From Dumbo, Washington Street will lead you directly to it.

The access ramp to the Brooklyn Bridge at Tillary and Adams Streets is the easiest way onto the bridge with a bike. (I hate having to dismount and carry my bike)


Last year, they added a two-way protected bike lane on Tillary Street to facilitate access to the bridge ramp entrance from the Downtown and Heights neighborhoods which has made getting on and off the bridge easier for beginning riders who aren't used to merging in and out of traffic.


The Adams Street bike path is still basically unusable due to the fact that the Brooklyn Marriott allows livery cab drivers to park all along the length in front of the hotel, I prefer Clinton Street if I'm coming from Cobble Hill.

The Brooklyn Bridge Bike Path was one of the first joys of cycling in the city for me.
Even if you don't have a bicycle and the thought of hoards of tourists makes you cringe, you should try it once.
There's a reason people travel from all over the world to see the view.


Nick Johnson said...

I have to disagree with you: I hate riding over the Brooklyn Bridge because there are so many tourists. It detracts from the smoothness of a ride. I almost always opt for the Manhattan or Williamsburg Bridges.

But yeah, sharing rides is fun. Mine are here: http://www.mapmyride.com/user/181521/nickjohnson

bikebrooklyn said...

Hey Nick,
I actually totally agree with you, and I almost never ride across the Brooklyn Bridge any more.
But when I think back to the first rides I took that made me fall in love with biking in NYC, this one stands out.
Also, I find a surprising number of people ask me how to get onto the path on the bridge, so I figured I might as well use this unintentional commuting hiatus (ie no commuting bike) to write up some instructions for folks who want to try the bridge for the first time.

Thanks so much for the info about 123 Tompkins, and for the link to your rides - you've done some really fun ones.
How do you like Map My Ride? I've been using Bikely, but it annoys me sometimes.

Nick Johnson said...

I've been using mapmyride since back in the day when it was still mapmyrun.com. At this point, I mostly use it because I've been using it for years.

There have always been (and still are) bugs with mapmyride, but the staff has always been really responsive to my emails.

Having said that, I think they're all pretty much the same.

Anonymous said...

The Clinton Street path looks good, but it's too narrow. A rider could face a choice between being doored and being run over. When going to the Brooklyn Bridge, I endure the curses of drivers and ride on the left side of the street.