NEW YORK CITY — Cycle commuting has never been more popular in New York with the advent of Citi Bike and the expansion of the city’s dedicated bike lanes network.
Biking to work in the summer means dealing with the heat and humidity. But the sweat-averse needn’t be put off from pedaling, as DNAinfo New York polled several cycle-commuting experts to find the breeziest bike paths that will help riders keep cool on their way to the office.
"Bridges and waterfront paths are your best bet at catching a nice breeze,” said Les Brown, the content coordinator for Transportation Alternative’s cyclist education website bikenyc.org. "You get away from the stifling heat that the buildings trap and hopefully catch a nice breeze off the East River or Hudson River.”
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There are several waterfront spots for cyclists in Brooklyn, beginning with the Brooklyn Greenway, which runs from Brooklyn Heights to Williamsburg and offers waterfront views at the Brooklyn Bridge and along Kent Avenue.
Riders can also catch breezes along the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges.
Brown, who lives in Greenpoint, is a big fan of the Williamsburg bridge. "It is a great place to catch a breeze, and it’s one of the city's nicest views, too,” Brown said. "Stop at the apex of the bridge on a hot day, take a sip for your water bottle, and there’s often a nice breeze.”
While Queens doesn’t have nearly as many bike paths as Manhattan and Brooklyn, cool commutes are still possible.
"In western Queens there’s a really good waterfront greenway,” Brown said, pointing riders to Vernon Boulevard, which runs from Long Island City up to Astoria and connects to the Queensboro Bridge path to Manhattan.
Peter Beadle, who runs the Rego Park to Midtown route of the NYC Biketrain, advises riders who aren’t near Vernon Boulevard to take Skillman Avenue. Skillman’s path runs semi-parallel to Queens Boulevard, making it a safer alternative for cyclists coming from points east.
"It's not breezy, but the ride through Sunnyside Gardens is tree lined with great shade and is very comfortable in the summer,” Beadle said.
NORTHERN MANHATTAN AND THE BRONX
Like Queens, The Bronx is lacking in dedicated bike paths, so cyclists looking for slightly cooler routes are best sticking to side streets through the borough, experts said. However, once they reach Inwood, the Hudson River Greenway offers waterfront ride all the way to Battery Park.
"Basically, for maximum breezy biking you want to stick near bodies of water,” said Kimberly Kinchen, co-founder of the NYC Biketrain, which organizes group bike commutes around the city. "The West Side greenway is a dependably breezy route."
Riders in Harlem or the Upper East or Upper West Side can also ride through Central Park.
"It’s a great place to ride on a hot day,” Brown said. "People think of it as a place to do laps and not something to work into their commute, but you can think of it as one of the nicer paths through the center of the city.”
Riders along the waterfront in Brooklyn and Queens have another option: the East River Ferry. The ferry, which costs $5 for cyclists on weekdays, offers pick-up stops at Greenpoint, Williamsburg, DUMBO and Long Island City and deposits riders at the F.D.R. Drive and East 34th Street.
"You really do cool off on the ferry ride,” Brown said. "If you’re not ready to make that whole 6- to 7-mile commute, the ferry is a great transit option to make your biking a little easier.”
"It’s the fastest way to get to Manhattan,” added Dmitry Gudkov, a freelance cycling photographer. "From Greenpoint it's a 10-minute boat ride to Manhattan, and nothing beats being on the water in New York City.”