In recent years, the city has become more and more bike-friendly. Re-establishment of bike lanes in NYC streets, convenient CitiBike stations slowly but surely expanding into the outer boroughs, and the occasional free helmet fitting and distribution events from the DOT have helped bikes regain their popularity as a way to get some exercise, move from one place to another, and just have fun! As you plan your summer trips and events, don’t forget to fit in some family bike-time at one of the many wonderful and kid-friendly biking spots in NYC. We’ve highlighted the best below!
Brush up on Your Skills with Bike New York and CitiBike
Before you take to the big-kid trails, you may want to refresh your memory — or learn to ride a bike in the first place. Luckily, a few of NYC's bike-loving groups have free classes and events for beginners to get the handle on biking, whether it's your kid who needs a lesson, or you. Learn to ride a bike from scratch with CitiBike's small group lessons, held every month in various locations. Click here for upcoming adult classes, and check out this list for kid classes. Or you can stop by any of Bike New York's bike Education Centers spread out around the boroughs for a free lesson. Click here to see a map with center locations.
Before you set off, make sure you take a look at NYC's rules and laws regarding biking safely.
Ready? Grab those handlebars and let's go on a tour of the best family-friendly bike trails around NYC!
Learn the Rules of the Road at Central Park
Central Park is a fantastic place to start, since it's such a central location (pun intentional, sorrynotsorry). The park has paved bike trails that wind around the entire park, with entrances at different points for easy access. Bikers under age 14 are required to wear a helmet (although all riders are encouraged to wear one as well), and must obey the rules of the road since at various points bikes either share the path with pedestrians, or are intersected by pedestrian crossings. Since there are no cars, however, this is a perfect opportunity to learn the rules and practice your riding in a safe location.
Follow the trail map, which also highlights park bathrooms and key points of interest, to plan your path ahead of time (and maybe make some time to stop for a picnic). Don't have your own bike? No problem — bike rentals through BikeRent NYC are available at the SouthEast and SouthWest corners of the park.
Location: Manhattan. Bike rentals are located at East Dr. at 74th St., or Central Park West at 59th St. (Columbus Circle). If you BYOB, enter at any park entrance (refer to the bike map for entry and exit points).
More information: centralparknyc.org
Ride the Loop at Prospect Park
For a much shorter, but just as refreshing ride, bring your bikes to Prospect Park's 3.35-mile cycling loop. Bikes are also allowed on the park's drives, Park Drive, Center Drive, and Wellhouse Drive, though families will want to stick to the quieter path around the lake. During the spring, you can rent bikes at the LeFrak Center at Lakeside.
Location: Brooklyn. Bike rentals are located at 171 East Dr. Enter at any of the park's entrances.
More information: prospectpark.org
View the Waterfront at the Brooklyn Greenway
The Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway is a bike path that connects Brooklyn's waterfront with a 26-mile bike route. While every part of the route is accessible, some spots are more kid-friendly (and more scenic) than others. The most family-friendly location along the route is the biking trail through Brooklyn Bridge Park, where you can stop to enjoy some waterfront ice-cream or to ride Jane's Carousel. CitiBike rentals and bike racks are available at various points through the route, so you can enjoy the trip without having to lug your bikes around.
Location: Brooklyn. Various bike rental spots and entry locations are scattered around NYC's waterfront.
More information: brooklyngreenway.org
Get Away from the City at Governor's Island
Need a respite from the city? Bring your bikes or rent some on location to enjoy the car-free bike paths on Governor's Island. In addition to a safe, completely traffic-free route, the path offers bikers stunning waterfront and city views. CitiBike has two stations located by the ferry landings on the island, or you can rent from Blazing Saddles near Liggett Terrace (which also allows visitors to borrow a free bike for an hour every Mon-Fri from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.) With amazing photo-ops, thrillingly high slides, relaxing hammocks, delicious food trucks, fun children's climbing park, and so much more make sure you plan this one to be a full-day adventure. Governor's Island is open May through September yearly.
Location: Accessible via Ferry from Manhattan at 10 South St. (Battery Maritime Building) and from Brooklyn at Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 6.
More information: govisland.com
Take the Scenic Route at the Hudson River Park Bikeway
Enjoy the beautiful waterfront route along this path dedicated to non-motorized vehicles. This is truly a bike-friendly spot — bike racks, rest stops, and mile markers are located along the length of the route. Along with the views, you can stop at various family-friendly spots along the path, like the Pier 51 Play Area.
Location: Manhattan.The path stretches along the Hudson River between Battery Place and W. 59th St.
More information: hudsonriverpark.org
Mountain Bike at Cunningham Park
Want to get away from paved city bike paths and get a feel for the real deal? Check out the 6.5-mile cycling track in Fresh Meadows. The path is split into thirds by difficulty, with space available for any biking level. If you're feeling adventurous, check out the beginner and intermediate dirt jump park (even if it's just to watch others attempt it!). Ensure you stay on the right path for you by following the difficulty markings on the trail map.
Location: Queens. Enter at 196-20 Union Turnpike.
More information: nycbikemaps.com
Take on a Challenge at Wolf's Pond Park and Beach
Ready to take on some more challenging trails? The bike trail at Wolf's Pond provides another opportunity for mountain biking with the older kids. Follow the natural trail down the unpaved path and try your hand at various obstacles intended for different skill levels. As you bike, enjoy the beauty of the park — and make sure to leave some time for relaxing on the quiet beach after all the excitement.
Location: Staten Island. Entrances at Holton Ave., Chisolm St., Luten Ave., Arbutus Ave., and Raritan Bay.
More information: nycgovparks.org
What’s your family’s favorite bike ride? Tell us in the comments!