Biking in NYC

5 Tips When Riding Bikes Around NYC

 

Celebrities Riding Bikes in NYC

 

There’s no better way to get to know a city—especially New York City—than by bike. Check out our Big Apple biking tips below, courtesy of Brooklyn Bicycle Co.!

The more people flood into New York City, the more crowded the subway gets, the longer the buses are stuck in traffic, the more parking costs—and, well, you get the idea. But the other side of the coin is that as New York’s population grows, alternative forms of transport like biking become more and more appealing. You’ll get where you’re going faster and for less money—and studies have shown you’ll be happier doing it. If you’re moving to the city for the first time and need a little help getting your wheels turning, check out the NYC biking tips below. They’ll have you pedaling like a real New Yorker in no time.

 

WHY RIDE?

To beat the traffic—and more! Biking is almost always faster than any other form of transportation over distances under 10 miles—especially in a city infamous for its gridlock and L train delays—and it gives you the power to make your own schedule in your own vehicle, instead of waiting for a train or bus packed with people.

It’s also surprisingly safe. Data tells us biking is actually safer than walking, so if you’re comfortable traveling on foot, you shouldn’t have any qualms about riding. And instead of getting stiff and sweaty hauling around a tote bag or backpack, you can make your bike rack shoulder the weight while you ride free as a bird.

Finally, a bike will save you money in the long run. Choose a steel bike, and you’ll be riding it for years to come, spending the money that would have gone toward a monthly subway card or your Uber tab on film screenings at Nitehawk Cinema, where they serve brunch. You’re welcome.

 

BEFORE YOU RIDE

 

Being Cautious riding your bike in NYC

 

To ride safely and legally in NYC, you’ve gotta use lights—white headlight, red taillight—at night and under low-visibility conditions. Cars aren’t used to watching for bicycles, so the more you can do to be seen, the better. You’re also required to have a bell. That might sound kitschy, but all cars have horns to warn people of danger—though cabbies use them on many more occasions—and a bike bell serves the same purpose. What’s not mandatory is a helmet—required only for children under 13 and commercial riders like delivery people—but we would never hit the road without one. We recommend picking up all these essentials at Greenpoint’s Silk Road Cycles, and while you’re there, snagging an appropriate lock for a city where bike theft is most definitely a thing. Which brings us to…

 

HOW TO LOCK YOUR BIKE

 

How To Lock Up Your Bike

 

Number one rule: Never use a cable lock. Sure, they don’t add any weight to your ride, but they do enable anyone with a pair of scissors to make off with your bike. On the other hand, those heavy-duty chains are highly effective, but their excessive weight can sometimes take the joy out of riding.

We prefer a double-bolted u-lock and recommend locking both the front tire and frame to the bike rack, or if your lock isn’t big enough, using two u-locks—one to lock the front tire to the frame, and a second to lock the frame to the rack. 

Where you choose to lock up your bike is just as important. Don’t choose a touristy area already targeted by people up to no good, or the end of a dark alley where a thief’s efforts will likely go unseen. You’ll want somewhere highly trafficked and mostly by locals—like outside the delicious Juniper with its amazing mac and cheese and homey atmosphere.

Don’t lock to anything from which your bike can be easily removed, like scaffolding that can be unscrewed, thin bars that can be cut quickly, or even short parking meters over which your still-locked bike can be lifted. Furthermore, it’s illegal in NYC to lock to trees and subway railings, in which cases the police have the authority to cut your lock and remove your bike. Stick to bike racks, where available, or better yet—see if your new employer has an indoor bike room!

 

TAKING THE LANE

 

Ride in the Bike Lane

 

In NYC, bicyclists must use bike lanes where provided, but on streets where there is no bike lane—say along Metropolitan Ave, as your ride to City Reliquary, the quirkiest museum we know—bicyclists may “take the lane,” meaning you have the same road privileges as cars and may ride right down the center of the pavement, the safest place other than a designated lane. If there’s room in a single lane, ride to the right of traffic, but not if it means riding so crammed up against parked vehicles that you run the risk of being doored—hit by an opening car door and potentially knocked into traffic. Always do what makes you feel safest, not what’s more convenient for cars or other cyclists. Bicycles, just like automobiles and pedestrians, have a right to use the road, so don’t let people pressure you into an unsafe situation.

 

USE THE CROSSWALK 

While in most situations bikes are subject to the same rules as cars, there is one big exception: When making a left turn against oncoming traffic, a bike rider may use the crosswalk—and we recommend it as highly as we recommend Williamsburg’s Black Brick Coffee. Because both oncoming vehicles and cars turning left against them are often speeding to make it through the light, a bicycle waiting at the center of such a intersection is in a dangerous position. It’s much safer to cross with pedestrians and pick up the bike lane once you’ve made it across the intersection.  

Just as finding ways to stay cool and prevent sunburn is essential for enjoying a beach vacation, finding ways to minimize risk of injury and bike theft is essential for enjoying a bike riding lifestyle. Protect yourself, protect your bike, and know your rights—and you’ll be cruising in a New York minute.

 



For more biking tips, check out Brooklyn Bicycle Co.’s blog and follow @brooklynbikeco on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook.

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