This is the second in a 3 part series on biking into Manhattan.
read Part One
Richmond to Boston on a bicycle
Me with all my gear loaded on my Xtracycle.
I recently completed a 1,000 mile bike tour in which I lugged all of my musical equipment from Richmond to Boston and then on to Buffalo.
This was a huge adventure. I had very little experience with biking, much less bike touring. Not to mention bike touring with 120 pounds of gear on the back of my bike!
Check out how I fit all of that gear on a bike in this post: How to Carry a Guitar on a Bike
The Hardest Part: Getting into Manhattan on a Bicycle
Of all the questions people asked me when I announced my intentions to do this tour on a bicycle rather than a car, the most common was “How are you going to get into MANHATTAN?”. It was asked of me enough to make me nervous, but not enough to really plan out my route. Who needs plans when there’s adventure to be had?!
I played my final Philadelphia show in Newtown, just across the river from Trenton, and packed up my bike to head up to Jersey City, where I would catch the ferry. Most of the day was spent on a beautiful bike/ped path but when I hit the NYC sprawl, I really hit it. Things got really nasty outside of Newark and did not get better. The biggest nightmare was getting across the Hackensack river. When I finally made it to Brooklyn, exhausted and covered in car fumes and industrial debris, I swore to myself that I would try a different route next time.
Get more details about my somewhat disastrous first
attempt at biking into Manhattan
in this blog post: How Not to Bike Into Manhattan
The Long Way Up: Biking into Manhattan on the George Washington Bridge
So when I started dating a woman in Manhattan and planned to bike there from Philadelphia, I wanted to uphold my promise to myself. I wanted to try out the George Washington Bridge.
I took the same route as before, this time from West Philadelphia. So I had to bike up through Northeast Philly (not fun), Trenton (even less fun), Newark, and North Jersey before I could even start to see Manhattan.
This was a long ride. The 20 or so extra miles that going across the GW Bridge adds to the trip really count. I felt every pedal stroke of it.
Bike Trail to George Washington Bridge
The most challenging thing about biking into Manhattan across the GW Bridge (other than the extra miles) was actually finding the bike path. The signage in Fort Lee is minimal. I was very lucky to have other bikers to follow, but in case you don’t, here’s how to find the entrance to the bike path across the GW Bridge:
- Get Yourself into Fort Lee. I took Degraw Ave/Main St. from Hackensack, which worked out well.
- Ignore all of the signs for cars to get on the bridge and continue all the way to the bottom of the hill.
- Keep an eye out for other cyclists. This is a popular route, so you are bound to have some company.
- Take a left at the bottom of the hill. The bike path starts up the George Washington Bridge at the intersection of Hudson Terrace and the Bruce Reynolds Blvd. in Fort Lee.
- Take your time and enjoy the view as you’re going over the bridge. What an amazing place.
- Think about how you’re going to get where you’re going in Manhattan. The GW Bridge does not drop you off in the nicest spot in town, but there’s a special way to head south without dealing with cars. Read on below
Getting from the George Washington Bridge to the Hudson River Park on your Bike
If you were to ride across the GW Bridge on your bike into Manhattan, you might arrive and say “Yes! I made it! Glad that’s over!”
You would be very disappointed.
There is a beautiful and easy path to get down into uptown Manhattan from the GW Bridge, but it takes some maneuvering. The Hudson River Greenway is a nice, bike-friendly way to get wherever you need to go… all the way to Soho! But first you have to get to it. I’ll make it easy on you:
- Take Fort Washington Ave. South to Broadway
- Right on Broadway
- Immediate right on 158th, which takes you to the entrance to the Greenway.
The Best Route to Bike Into Manhattan
…was not this one. The extra miles were many, the landscape was gritty and in terms of beautiful landscapes, I didn’t see any.
Stay tuned for Part III in this series, in which I’ll reveal the best and most amazing way to bike from Philadelphia to Manhattan.