Biking In Lower Manhattan: Beginner, Intermediate And Expert Routes

Bicycles have always been one of the greatest ways to feel freedom in New York City. It’s the eco-friendly way to unlock parts of the city while weaving through forever-stalled car traffic and avoiding MTA delays. The city has seen a huge boom in new cyclists since the pandemic: With gyms closed and people avoiding the subways, hopping on a bike has become the default way to get around for many New Yorkers. And though there’s lots of room to improve, the city’s bike infrastructure has some beautiful routes to accommodate bikers of all levels. 

Lower Manhattan especially has some of the best biking views in the whole city, with cooling breezes coming off of the water to make for a nice summer ride too. Here’s a guide to enjoying the two-wheeled life around the neighborhood. 

Beginner Routes

Riding on the edge

The lower tip of Manhattan is blessed with a protected bike path that goes around parks, the waterfront, monuments and lots of scenic greenery — which is perfect for beginners or just lazier joy riding. An off-street bike lane stretches along the East River all the way up to Midtown, but you can pick it up underneath the Manhattan or Brooklyn Bridges. Follow it along to pass next to FDR Drive and by the Seaport District and the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. From underneath the Manhattan Bridge around the tip to Rockefeller Park on the West side is a little shy of three miles. 

The Battery 

The verdant park is often full of tourists trying to get a ride to the Statue of Liberty, but tourists are few and far between these days so you can enjoy a spin around the park’s paths free of obstacles. You can’t bike to the Statue of Liberty, of course, but you can catch a nice view of it from the park’s waterfront. 

Wagner Park and Rockefeller Park 

Follow the waterfront bike path as it turns north and you’ll reach Wagner park, and then keep pedaling uptown and you’ll reach Rockefeller Park. The latter is home to the Irish Hunger Memorial, and views of Jersey City across the Hudson River. 

Intermediate Routes

The city’s Open Streets program started during the pandemic to provide more outdoor space to cooped-up New Yorkers, and take back public space from cars. They make for good bike paths too. You can take advantage of a relatively long one running along Pearl Street from Broad Street to Cedar Street. 

West Street has another protected bike lane that will zip you uptown or downtown without having to interact with cars at all. It can become a bit of a bike highway during rush hours, so make sure you’re paying attention to your fellow cyclists. See the full map of bike lanes here

Expert Routes (Though Not That Expert)

Lower Manhattan has a series of interconnected bike lanes that criss-cross the streets, including on Chambers, Warren and Church Streets. Riding next to cars requires a little more confidence, but you can get used to it quickly. The neighborhood also has more shared lanes, where cars and bikers share the same lanes, which also takes a minute for new bikers to get the hang of.  

For more information on biking in Lower Manhattan, from maps to repairs and rentals, check out our biking resources post.

photo: iStock