QUEENS — Despite the lack of bike lanes in many areas of Queens, the borough offers several long and scenic rides. If you are spending July and August in the city, it’s time to grab your helmet and hit the road.
Here are some of the nicest bike routes in Queens:
► The Parks Loop: connects Flushing Meadow Corona, Kissena and Cunningham parks
Cyclists can choose from several options. The shorter version, according to Peter Beadle, a member of Transportation Alternatives Queens Activist Committee, runs from Flushing Meadows Corona Park through Kissena Park, along Underhill Avenue, which features bike lanes, to Cunningham Park.
From there, bicyclists can head back towards Corona Park by taking 73rd Avenue, followed by 164th Street and Jewel Avenue, all of which have bike lanes. The loop, according to Beadle, covers a distance of about 13 miles and goes through the prettiest parks in Queens.
► The Former Vanderbilt Parkway
The parks loop route can be easily extended to about 17 miles by adding a ride along the Long Island Motor Parkway, also known as the Vanderbilt Parkway.
The route, which connects Cunningham Park with Alley Pond Park in Douglaston, is one of the nicest green stretches in the borough.
The old road, built in 1908 by William Kissam Vanderbilt to race cars, originally ran from Queens to Lake Ronkonkoma. The Queens portion of it was later closed to traffic and became part of the Brooklyn Queens Greenway, which serves as both a pedestrian walkway and bike path.
► Joe Michael’s Mile
Joe Michael’s Mile, a jogging and cycling path along the shore of Little Neck Bay, connects Fort Totten Park in Bay Terrace with Alley Pond Park. Cyclists can check out great views of the Throgs Neck Bridge from Little Bay Park and visit a preserved Civil War fortress in Fort Totten Park.
► Rockaway Beach
Those who want to combine biking with sunbathing should go for a ride to Rockaway Beach. But while there is a great bike path along Cross Bay Boulevard, reaching the path from other portions of Queens may be a challenge. It may be best to take the A train to Howard Beach and, from there, ride along bike lanes on 157th Avenue and 91st Street.
Those who like birdwatching may also want to stop at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, located on the way.
► Forest Park
Forest Park, which shares a portion of the Brooklyn Queens Greenway, is popular among bicyclists and joggers alike. Since the stretch that is closed to traffic is only a little longer than a mile, cyclists often ride back and forth. But the short route is an exceedingly pleasant one, as it runs through a real forest.
Those who want to extend the ride can use bike routes along Cooper Avenue and Cypress Hills Street to get to Highland Park, home to the Ridgewood Reservoir, on the border of Brooklyn and Queens.
► Astoria Park, Queensbridge Park and Gantry Plaza State Park
Bicyclists will find several great destinations along the East River, including Astoria Park, Queensbridge Park and Gantry Plaza State Park, all of which provide spectacular vistas of Manhattan. Astoria Park has a great bike path, which goes along the waterfront from 20th Avenue to Astoria Park South. The path is further connected to bike lanes which go along the waterfront all the way to Hunters Point.
Those coming to the waterfront from the northern parts of the borough can easily ride along bike lanes on 34th Avenue in Corona and Jackson Heights, which later link to bike lanes in Sunnyside and Astoria.
But for cyclists who live in Central Queens, the trip is tricky, since there are no bike lanes in that portion of the borough. "The most direct route is to run down Queens Boulevard," said Peter Beadle. “For many people that is a scary ride, and I do not recommend it for anyone who is not very experienced with riding on city streets,” he noted.
In order to avoid Queens Boulevard as much as possible, Beadle said it's best to use back streets, such as Eliot Avenue, 85th Street, Calamus Ave. and 61st Street, before reaching Sunnyside, which has bike lanes along Skillman and 43rd aves.