Best Ways to Celebrate National Bike Month in NYC

Anything that helps promote or increase the use of bicycles in this beautiful city of ours is just fine by me, so although I’m usually pretty skeptical about made-up “holidays” like Wisconsin Waffle Week or whatever, this one seems worth getting excited about. That’s right, the upcoming month of May has once again been designated as National Bike Month—-this has been a thing since 1956!–which means it’s an excellent time to reiterate all of the benefits of biking. Namely: biking in NYC is healthy for you, personally; it’s an extremely efficient way to get around town (especially for short trips and especially especially for going crosstown); it eases crowding on subways and buses; it’s a lot cheaper and way more fun that driving, or hailing a cab, or summoning Uber; it releases zero greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. To help celebrate all of these wonderful things for you and your city, here are few cycling-related events and such going on around town, both this month and every month.     

NYC Bike Tours, Challenges, and Events

Did you get a spot on this year’s Five Boro Bike Tour, going on this Sunday, May 3, in which some 32,000 cyclists will be zipping literally all over town? Let’s hope so, because from what I hear, and despite the huge crowds, this is an exceedingly pleasant community-building event, covering 42 miles of closed-to-cars roadways and bridges. Expect a leisurely pace, entertainment and snacks, chatting with your fellow citizens. You might also enjoy the free Bike Expo of consumer products, which takes over Basketball City (located on the East River just north of the South Street Seaport) on Friday and Saturday, May 1 and 2. And if you missed the deadline for the Five Boro, note that registration for September’s 100-mile NYC Century ride opens sometime in the “Spring” (read: soon!), and that that event also always fills up fast.

The Best NYC Bike Routes

Of course, you don’t need some massive organized ride to enjoy the many great bike routes around the city on a daily (or, at least, weekendly) basis. The city’s big parks all have designated rides for fun and fitness, including the Central Park Loop (six miles of smooth road surface; no cars allowed for big chunks of each weekday and all weekend long; enough hills going both up and down to keep things interesting) and the nearly 3.5-mile loop in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, which is popular for the same reasons. The Hudson River Greenway, on which it’s now possible to almost circumnavigate the entire island of Manhattan, all right by the water, is also a solid option.   

Paths, Maps & Events For Bike Month

If you’d rather go on a more destination-based ride, check out the Ocean Parkway Bike Path, a protected, bicycles-only lane which you can take all the way out to Coney Island, just in time for the Cyclone, and all the rides at Luna Park and Wonder Wheel, to be open for the season (or you can just lie on the beach for a bit). And for day-to-day getting around the city, this NYC Bike Maps site remains an excellent resource when you’re trying to figure out the safest (and fastest) ride from Point A to Point B. I use it all the time before heading out on a unfamiliar route; it makes such a difference to ride on a “bike path/greenway” rather than a more exposed (and often blocked by double-parkers or Uber drivers engaged in illlegal drop-offs) “bike lane”.

Best Ways To Celebrate National Bike Month

Take The Bike-To-Work Challenge

Another May cycling tradition is the Transportation Alternatives’ Bike-to-Work Challenge, a friendly competition among similarly-sized workplaces to see who can get the most employees to commute via bicycle between Friday, May 1 and Wednesday, May 22. And then on Friday, May 29, the winners of the Challenge will be feted at the blowout Bike Home From Work Party taking place on the Pearl Street Triangle in DUMBO. There will be all sorts of food trucks on hand, and bike-related vendors, with a “beer garden” set up under the Manhattan Bridge. Finally, check in with City Reliquary to see if they’re planning to throw their Bike Fetish block party in Williamsburg again this year, which is usually held toward the end of May and is a guaranteed good time, with the freakiest handmade bikes you’ve ever tried to ride.

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