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Choose Your Own CitiBike Adventure

The Stern Adventures Club Shares Some Tips on New York’s Favorite Bike

It’s been an action-packed year so far for Stern Adventures. We’ve hiked, climbed, jumped, crawled, skied, boarded, and more. 130 Sternies invaded Steamboat Springs, CO for our annual ski trip (up 100% from last year!), and we represented Stern well at the Tuck Winter Carnival, sporting unicorn onesies during the grueling downhill competition. We have lots more coming to help get you outside with your classmates before the semester’s end.

Now that spring is in the air, there are countless ways to get some air with your friends, or just by yourself – no Adventures required.

One way is on a bike. Biking on NYC streets and in parks is one of my all-time favorite things to do – cruising on two wheels completely changes your perspective of the city and how you experience it. I’m such a fan of CitiBike in particular that some have asked if they pay me for publicity.

There are a bunch of reasons I’ve almost fully ditched my own bike for the clunky blue monsters, including the extensive (and expanding) network and the ultra-helpful app. But the main reason is that the luxury of biking one-way only is a total game-changer. So long heavy locks, constant worries of theft, having to bike back from wherever you go, and lugging it on the train.

What’s more, with the train-walk-(and even ferry)-bike combo, the city suddenly opens up in ways never before possible. You can transform into the ultimate city explorer – unburdened and whimsical.

So, if you’re someone who’s seen CitiBikes all over yet hasn’t explored what they can do for you, I offer this sample pack of choose-your-own-adventures. Grab a backpack and throw in a blanket, book, Frisbee/ball, jambox, a change of shirt of two – and make sure your phone is at 100% – and you’re good to go.

The following suggestions include well-marked and protected bike routes that largely avoid congested Manhattan streets or crisscrossing the city. Each route is 30-45 minutes max. You can link any of them together, or go a-la-carte. While the accident rate has been remarkably low, biking in the city is still poses serious risks, so be careful!

Hudson River Park – West Side Highway

Experience part of this beautiful path as it heads uninterrupted along the Hudson all the way from Battery Park to 110th Street (the upper bounds of the CitiBike network, for now). Head straight over from campus to Pier 40, with pit stops at the Frying Pan or Boat Basin.

Central Park Loop

Pick up a bike anywhere along the perimeter of the park, don’t look at any maps, let your heart be your guide, and see where you end up! Watch out for hardcore cyclists torpedoing through traffic lights.

Central Park – Queensboro Bridge – Long Island City

Also known as the 59th St Bridge (as in “slow down, you move too fast…”), it sports an awesome protected bike route accessible from near 2nd Ave with amazing views of midtown, the East River, and Roosevelt Island. When you get to Queens, head straight for the water and go south to Long Island City, ditching your bike at PS1 (MoMA), The Cliffs (rock climbing), the Long Island Community Boathouse (kayaking!), or just chill in Hunter’s Point or Gantry Plaza under the giant Pepsi sign.

Long Island City – Pulaski Bridge – Greenpoint

Cruise up and over the Pulaski Bridge into Greenpoint and take a tour of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant (seriously!) or spend some time at one of the more secluded and peaceful waterfront parks in the whole city, the WNYC Transmitter Park.

Williamsburg – South Williamsburg – Bed-Stuy

Do your thing in Williamsburg, then head down Bedford or Franklin Ave and feel transported to another place immersed in the Hasidic community of South Williamsburg. Once you reach Bed Stuy, take a dip in the massive Kosciuszko Pool and stuff your face in a doughnut at Dough, taking one for the road (be careful not to smash them – these heavenly clouds of sugar and flour are delicate).    

Clinton Hill – Fort Greene

While away some time in the Pratt Sculpture Garden, and check out the school’s own steam-powered electrical plant, built in 1887 – a living antique.  Check out some cool old buildings and redevelopments in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and sneak into the semi-secret Naval Cemetery Park.  End up on top of the hill at Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn’s first.

Prospect Park Loop

Enjoy the full loop, but make it quick since you can only dock the bike on the west side of the park (again, for now). Once you find one, leave the bike and head back in to enjoy the greatest city park in the world. Make some friends and maybe you can join a barbeque at one of the built-in grills.

Park Slope – Gowanus

Stretch out for some hardcore shuffleboard at Royal Palms or rock climbing at Brooklyn Boulders and replenish your depleted nutrients with some locally brewed beer at Threes Brewing.

Red Hook – Brooklyn Bridge Park

Park your bike at the massive Fairway on the southern tip of Van Brunt St and walk down the pier along the art studios for epic views of Lady Liberty and Manhattan. Notice how amazingly quiet it is. Wrap around to the Waterfront Garden, pick up some key lime pie at Steve’s, and duck into the best bar in the land, Sonny’s, before pedaling up the new path along Columbia St to Brooklyn Bridge Park.

DUMBO – Manhattan Bridge – Chinatown

From Brooklyn Bridge Park, climb up through DUMBO to the Manhattan Bridge. There’s nothing better than reaching the crest of the bridge and coasting down the protected bike path with the river and city below you. You’re free to take the Brooklyn Bridge, but the crowds can be hard to navigate and the wooden slats a little jarring. If you go faster than 5-10 MPH on the way down you’re likely to crash into a selfie stick. Once you get to Chinatown, you know what to do.

East River Park

Follow the underside of the Williamsburg Bridge along Delancey St. to cross over the FDR into East River Park. Watch some tennis, bust some cartwheels around the track, do a little dance on the amphitheater stage, and just remember to get the bike in on time.

CitiBike is $163 for a year-long subscription, which includes rides of 45 minutes. Day passes (24 hours) are $12; 3-day passes (72 hours) are $24, which both include individual rides of 30 minutes. To refresh, you can just dock one and wait a few minutes, at which point you’ll be able to check one out again.

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