|Jersey Jaunts - Biking in (and around) New Jersey|
Manhattan Hudson & East River Greenways
Hudson River Greenway
Battery Park to 129th Street
Distance: Approximately 19 miles (round trip)
Topology: Graded flat
Surface: paved - asphalt, concrete, pavers
East River Greenway
Battery Park to 25th Street
Distance: Approximately 8 miles (round trip)
Topology: Graded flat
Surface: paved - asphalt, concrete, wood pier
I like to call this ride the 1 boro bike tour since it takes place almost exclusively in Manhattan on traffic-free streets. This ride is one of the best secrets of New York City, and if you are traveling from southern, or central NJ it is also one of the easiest and cheapest ways to ride in the Big Apple. The secret is to park in Staten Island and take the ferry across to Battery Park. The ferry is always free, and accommodates bicycles nicely, the terminals have dedicated bicycle waiting areas on the lower level, and bike racks on the vessels. If you ride on a Sunday you also can park for free in the municipal parking lots on Staten Island.
Once the ferry docks in Manhattan you can travel either greenway north along the edges of the island, if you don't mind a few on-street connection links it's possible to circumnavigate the entire 32 miles around city in one giant loop. Our plan on this trip however was to ride each greenway north until it hit an on-street connection then turn around and back-track to Battery Park.
We caught the 9:30 ferry from Staten Island, which had us disembarking in Battery Park around 10:00 where we headed first to the Hudson River Greenway. There are two options to start this greenway on the west side, one is to head up the side of 12th avenue, while the other is to enjoy the promenade along the rivers edge; we chose the latter. Here is a map of the Battery Park area.
The Hudson River promenade runs along the river bulkhead as it passes, Battery Park City, and the World Financial Center. The promenade rejoins the main greenway along the West Side Highway (12th Ave) when it leaves the Battery Park City area. Map of Battery Park Promenade From here the pathway takes you past a number of piers, including Chelsea Piers, the Intrepid air & Space Museum, and the passenger ship terminal, where on Sunday mornings most all of the cruise ships are in port loading and unloading passengers.
The trail continues north into Riverside Park, it is here where we went astray. The cardinal rule is to always keep the river on your left, and don't climb hills, however while in the park bicycles were detoured around a high traffic pedestrian area where we missed a turn back towards the river. Read about our unexpected side-track.
Our side-track route eventually brought us past both ends of the 129th street open-road link, but we managed the 6 block link without much trouble, however there were a number of delivery type trucks on the route, which wouldn't be very good for young riders. Map of 129th street on-street segment.
The ride back from 129th street was mostly on the same pathway until we reached Battery Park City, at that point we skipped the promenade and continued down the greenway (through the World Trade Center site) directly to Battery Park.
After crossing back through Battery park and the ferry entrance we headed up the East River Greenway toward the South Street Seaport. The seaport area was very crowed by this time of day, so we needed to dismount and walk through the throngs of tourists. There isn't much to see north of the seaport, the greenway runs between the FDR, and a series of recreation fields along the river, the riding surface is also a little rough in spots, and in need of repair. At one point next to a ConEd power plant the greenway narrows down to 3-4 foot wide sidewalk for about 100 feet, where you must virtually stop to allow oncoming foot/bike traffic to pass. We turned around when the marked roadway disappeared around Bellevue Hospital. The ride is also rather loud since the cars on the FDR are speeding by only a few feet away on the other side of the concrete barrier.
We returned in time to catch the 2:30 ferry back to Staten Island. All in all the day was great, next time we might venture on-street around 71st street to connect with the 6 mile Central Park pathway.