Ride or drive past the wide expanse of strip malls and fast food joints in Brooklyn and just when you start thinking you’ve taken a wrong turn, the green starts to appear in fits and starts. You’re almost there.
What Makes It Great
You pop out of civilization and hit a bridge and that’s when you realize you’re free.
The Jamaica Bay Greenway borders the wildlife preserve (great for bird watching with over 200 types of birds) and you’ll notice small hiking trails peeking out of the foliage as you ride by. The parking lots along the way are free and a great spot to leave your car while you ride—the police pull in and out of the lots regularly, so compared to plenty of other New York locales, this one is fairly secure.
After crossing the bridge into Rockaway Beach, you’ll have to ride along the main streets (I recommend riding the bike path along the beach) before crossing back over the Marine Harbor Gill Hodges Bridge. Then you can pick back up the Greenway and head over through Jacob Riijs Park and into Floyd Bennett Field. While you’re in Jacob Riijs Park, take a swim! Then, the Rockaway Gateway Greenway will take you full circle and back to the Jamaica Bay section, though you’ll have to pop onto roads along the bay for three blocks before hitting the path again.
The roads and paths that make up the Greenway are reasonably well-maintained, though a flat tire from a hefty crack in the sidewalk isn’t out of the question, so make sure you’re prepared. Plenty of serious cyclists use this route as well, so expect a lot of friendly waves while you’re out. It’s also handy to follow someone who knows the loop, as sections are left unmarked in certain areas—something that the Greenway is working hard to change. There are also a couple of bridges that you have to walk your bike across but it’s worth it to explore the Gateway Parks area.
You can get a fairly long ride in if you circle around—it runs 19 miles. Or you can just choose to ride the few miles to Rockaway and meander along the beach and check out the surf, if you’re looking for a shorter ride. If you do aim for a short ride to Rockaway, consider checking out the Thai restaurant just over the bridge going into town—you’ll ride through their parking lot when you get down from the bridge and they have great patio seating where you can watch the boats on the water and watch the A train rumble along its bridge above the bay.
Who is Going to Love It
The Jamaica Bay Greenway is a great spot to ride if you want to get out of the city without leaving the city and want to get in a bit more of a tough ride—it’s not typically too busy so going hard is an option, unlike on the densely populated Hudson River Greenway in Manhattan.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
A great place to start is Broad Channel. Get directions here.