Bicycling into New York City Part I: How (not) to Bike into Manhattan

This is the first in a 3 part series on biking into Manhattan.
read Part Two

Richmond to Boston on a Bike

Me with all my gear loaded on my Xtracycle.
Me with all my gear loaded on my Xtracycle.

When I first announced that I was going to ride my bike from Richmond to Boston, one of the first questions that most people asked was: “How are you going to get into Manhattan?”

The answer: no idea. I didn’t do any previous research about routes, bike paths or anything. I just announced that I was biking to Boston and figured it would work out.


The East Coast Greenway: Trenton to Newark

I woke up the morning of my ride to Brooklyn just across the river from Trenton, NJ. I checked google maps and bikely.com and found a bike trail (part of the East Coast Greenway) that took me all the way from Trenton to Newark. It was a gorgeous day and I cherished spending hours and hours on a path with no motorized vehicles. Though I did run into some trouble with the path, as documented in my vlog below:

How to get into Manhattan on a Bicycle

I am in the habit of asking a question on my weekly vlog. The week before I biked to Brooklyn, I asked the question How do you get into Manhattan on a bicycle? and received a variety of responses:

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See more responses here

My plan was to follow google’s walking directions over the Newark Turnpike (walking directions over a turnpike? OK, googlemaps, I’m going to trust you on this one…) and then take the ferry from Paulus Hook to just next to the Brooklyn Bridge.

Google Maps FAIL

Here was the result:
jon-watts-fb-newark-to-jersey-city-bike

So it turns out that the turnpike was a turnpike. 18 wheelers going by at 70 miles an hour and no shoulder. I briefly considered it, and then thought about my Mom, crying. I turned around and decided to do a little more research.

Thanks a lot, google maps.

Biking into Jersey City on Lincoln Highway (rte 1)

I checked google maps again and saw that I had just one other option before I gave up and biked the 20 miles north to the George Washington bridge: The Lincoln Bridge, where route one crosses two bridges to Jersey City. Google maps told me that there was a pedestrian area to the right of the road.

Perfect. Let’s go.

Doesn’t that look so much better? No? That’s because it’s not. Again, no shoulder… turns out the sidewalks are closed on either side (and blocked off!) and again… 18 wheelers speeding by. I waited for them to have a red light, turned on my super-blinky-vest and sped across the two bridges.

It wasn’t super safe. Should you do it? NO. But I was tired and hungry. And besides, I made it to the ferry, which took me across the bay to a sweet bed and dinner and icing my knees. But if I had it to do again, it’s worth the 20 miles to the GW bridge.

Thanks a lot, New Jersey.

So…? What Have We Learned?

If you’re using google maps to plan your daily route on a bike trip, the bridges should be your focal points. Always cut up your trip by bodies of water and focus on how you’re going to cross. When you decide on a bridge, use street view to see what exactly you’re going to be attempting. If you don’t like looking at it, you’re definitely not going to like riding over it. Choose a different route.

One thought on “Bicycling into New York City Part I: How (not) to Bike into Manhattan”

  1. Hey, nice little summary of bikes into Manhattan. I live in Jersey City. The best and simplest way is to just take the PATH subway train from Newark. If you really want to make a grand entrance by ferry, get off the PATH at exchange place and grab the ferry there.

    The other way… you can ride through Bayonne, over the Bayonne bridge to Staten Island, and then take the Staten Island Ferry into Manhattan. It’s even free!

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