Weaving in and out of traffic, wheezing exhaust fumes, dodging pedestrians. My bike and I were freaking out. Manhattan can be claustrophobic at times—surrounded by high-rise buildings, people jostling around on every side of you, cars honking—it’s a nightmare for someone who’s seen the best riding that America has to offer. The life of a bike messenger in the city is a hellish one of risks, narrow escapes, and stress. Even Central Park seems boxed in, with winding roads that lead to nowhere and dense foliage with skyscraper backdrops.
What Makes It Great
But sometimes, we can’t leave the city to get that breath of cool, fresh air. Sometimes, we’re just stuck.
There is an answer though. Just head across town, past 12th Avenue. By 10th Avenue, you’ll start to see hints of water on the horizon. By 11th, your pulse is racing faster and you know you’re almost to freedom. And when you burst over the last stretch of road and the Hudson River spreads out in front of you, despite the soda bottles and detritus that are lazily hitting the sides of the piers, you’ll think it’s the most beautiful sight you’ve ever seen. For the first time since you started your ride, you will relax.
To get virtually anywhere in Manhattan, the Hudson River Greenway is the way to ride. It won’t always be the fastest, but it will be the safest, and for someone unused to city riding, it’s a great way to get around—just ride down it until you’re at the cross-street you need, and then ride up that to your specific destination. On weekends, it’s the place to go to people-watch, ride and get some fresh air without leaving the city.
The Greenway spans much of the Hudson River, but the part that helps the most when navigating the city is primarily the part that runs the length of Manhattan. For people watching and downtown activities—including free kayaking on the weekends, and SUP classes and tours on certain piers—the Hudson River Park section is ideal. Stop at ’Wich Craft to pick up an amazing sandwich or a crazy fresh-pressed juice if you need a break, or check out the Intrepid Museum. Sunbathers line the sides of the trail during the summer, and like most of the parks in the city, it makes for some ideal people-watching situations.
For a more relaxed, slightly less busy ride, start farther uptown and use it to meander between Riverside Park and Inwood Hills Park. You won’t be able to go ultra-fast on this path, so save your intervals for another time, but an endurance ride is certainly possible. The paths are well-maintained and highly trafficked, so if safety on a solo ride or run is important to you, this is a great way to stay surrounded by people.
If you’re feeling industrious, you can very nearly get around the entirety of Manhattan on the trails, using the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway. The Hudson Greenway makes up a third of the trails, with the East River and Harlem River Greenways completing the circle. There will be small sections that will kick you onto streets, but you’ll be on trails for almost the entirety of the 32-mile trek.
Who is Going to Love It
The Hudson River Greenway Bike Path has something for everyone - families, cyclists, walkers/joggers, sunbathers, and those who enjoy water sports. It can be tough to get going too fast on a bike, but is great for beginners or those who want to take a relaxing cycle.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The Greenway technically spans the entire Hudson River throughout New York, so you can jump on anywhere along the route. Check out the full map here.