Bicycling has been a favorite pastime for many Brooklynites long before the COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a two-wheeled boom last year.
We wanted to hear from prominent cyclists and advocates about their favorite places to bike in the borough, which will hopefully offer a helpful guide for both seasoned pedal pushers and newcomers.
Do you have any Brooklyn bike routes that you’d like to share? Please email [email protected] with your suggestions.
Red Hook’s Valentino Pier/Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie by Doug Gordon
For a relaxed family ride to the Red Hook waterfront, safe streets activist Doug Gordon, who hosts the podcast “War on Cars,” recommends heading to Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie in Red Hook.
The route starts in Park Slope, on the area’s newly completed Fourth Avenue protected bike lane, before heading downhill over the Gowanus Canal on Third Street. Once you get to Carroll Gardens, hang a left and head over into Red Hook. The ride then goes along the Brooklyn Greenway until the Valentino Pier on Coffey Street. Steve’s is directly on the other side of the park at 185 Van Dyke St.
“This route is a slightly roundabout way to get there, but it takes you through three different neighborhoods and allows you to enjoy the greenway a bit longer – which is perfect for kids who can ride their own bikes,” Gordon said. “It also makes the pie and the glorious views of the harbor and the Statue of Liberty that much more rewarding.”
Bed-Stuy to the Williamsburg waterfront by Dulcie Canton
Duclie Canton, a Bedford-Stuyvesant-based safe streets advocate with Transportation Alternatives, likes biking from her home to the Williamsburg waterfront at Domino Park.
“My route is mostly a series of class 2 painted bike lanes. You’re riding with traffic but the only thing separating you from the cars is paint,” Canton said.
Canton starts the route on Throop Avenue before heading north into Williamsburg, and then hanging a left, where the route takes you all the way to Domino Park on Kent Ave.
“Grand Street is newly parking protected and painted green and feels good to bike in now. I would say this route is for intermediate riders, someone confident in some traffic,” she said. “Domino Park has a great view of Manhattan, many benches and chairs. There are also public restrooms if you need.”
Stuyvesant Heights Historic District by Jacqueline VanDusen
Jacqueline VanDusen should know about cycling in Brooklyn, given that she undertook the Herculean task of biking every block in the borough over three years, documenting interesting architecture along the way on her Instagram @bkbybike. Of the thousands of miles of Brooklyn’s streetscape, VanDusen favors the brownstone-lined blocks of the Stuyvesant Heights Historic District in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
“There’s gorgeous architecture, long stretches of flat and wide roads and plenty of dining options,” said VanDusen.
She created a handy collection of routes online, which includes Stuyvesant Heights along with two longer itineraries, one looping around the entire borough (50 miles) and another making a brewery tour from Gowanus to Bushwick (9 miles).
The 8-mile Stuyvesant Heights route starts off heading around Nostrand and Greene avenues, before making a series of turns along the gorgeous residential blocks, where pedal pushers can see the architecture of the neighborhood, before ending up one block from the starting point, at Bedford and Greene avenues.
VanDusen recommends riding between 9 am-3 pm for bright blue skies and vivid colors, and encourages riders to stop at one of the many local businesses for a drink, coffee, or snack along the way.
Victorian Flatbush to the beach by Cal DeJesus
DeJesus, a Flatbush-based member of the street safety political action committee StreetsPAC and sits on Community Board 9’s Transportation Committee, recommends starting from Prospect Park Parade Grounds heading south on Rugby Road to see some gorgeous Victorian architecture in Flatbush.
“A lot of people take Bedford Avenue straight down, but for someone who wants a more laid back, scenic route, I take the Rugby Road route,” DeJesus said.
DeJesus said the route is calm enough to bike the wrong way, or “salmon” for that short stretch before the street flips back to heading south.
Riders will eventually hit the historic Floyd Bennett Field, and from there you can head across the Marine Parkway Bridge (the MTA officially asks riders to walk their bike across the span) and to popular beaches in Queens, such as Fort Tilden or Jacob Riis.
East Flatbush to Canarsie Park by Cal DeJesus
DeJesus’ second route starts by heading east on Clarendon Road at Bedford Avenue passing through East Flatbush. At the corner of Ralph Avenue you can make a stop at the Wyckoff House Museum, boasting the 17th century Dutch building which is oldest house in Brooklyn! There’s also a nice garden that offers space to take a break, according DeJesus.
The next section that connects to the two-way bike lane on Paedergat Avenue N. is a little bit tricky, because of the severe lack of safe bike infrastructure in central and eastern part of the borough, where wide multi-lane avenues often resemble busy highways.
DeJesus advises to take Ralph Avenue for less than a block south, make a left on Canarsie Lane, a right on E. 83rd Street and head three blocks south to Farragut Road. There, make a right and ride west to E. 80th Street where you’ll make a left, head further south and then right again onto Avenue J.
Avenue J takes you to Paedergat Avenue N., which connects all the way to Canarsie Park, offering space to relax and explore, according to DeJesus.
“The trails are really nice, you can have a picnic there, it feels like you’re not in the city,” she said.
The adjacent Jamaica Bay Greenway makes for an easy connection further east to Canarsie Pier or the fairly-new Shirley Chisholm State Park, offering trails and sprawling greenery atop a former landfill.
Coney Island – Prospect Park – Bay Ridge Triangle by Brian Hedden
Bike South Brooklyn co-founder Brian Hedden is a strong advocate for cycling in the borough’s more car-dominated southern belt.
One of his favorite rides is a loop from Bay Ridge to Coney Island, Prospect Park, and back starting at John Paul Jones Park (or Cannonball Park as locals call it) heading east along the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway.
“The waterfront is gorgeous, and with the new-to-2019 extension, the Greenway goes almost all the way to Coney Island. On the way, sometimes I’ll stop at Calvert Vaux Park, a wide-open space with some underrated views of Coney Island Creek and the occasional killer sunset.”
The route continues along Cropsey Avenue and W. 17th Street to MCU Park, where Coney Island Brewing offers up tasty burgers and brews. Head on to the landmarked Riegelmann Boardwalk (“look for fireworks on summer Friday nights!”) and then take America’s first bike path along Ocean Parkway all the way north to Prospect Park.
Hedden makes a three-quarters loop around the park drive before heading downhill at 15th Street and back along Fourth Avenue to Bay Ridge.
Much of the route is separated from car traffic, but there are some tricky sections to keep an eye on, according to Hedden.
“The six-lane Cropsey is the worst, but if you take the sidewalk there, you don’t have to be a fearless daredevil to manage this route,” he said. “Do watch for cars turning across the Fourth Avenue protected bike lane – cars often illegally park on pedestrian islands, reducing visibility at corners.”
Back route to Jamaica Greenway by Brian Hedden
Hedden’s other favorite route is a kinder, gentler back route from Bay Ridge to Floyd Bennet Field.
To start, he rides east along 85th St, which eventually turns into Avenue T as it crosses Stillwell Avenue. This goes all the way to Marine Park (the park and the neighborhood).
“The painted bike lane ends in Dyker Heights, but traffic is usually low-volume,” he said.
A two-way bike path works its way around E. 38th Street, Avenue V, and Hendrickson St, and a shared sidewalk runs on the eastern side of the Marine Park Golf Course. From there, you can take the greenway to Floyd Bennett Field.
“If you go, look for the garden association, the archery range, the radio control model airplane field, and the historical aircraft in Hanger B,” said Hedden.
Or, you can head east to the gravel trails at Shirley Chisholm State Park, or west to the walking paths along Plumb Beach, according to Hedden.
This route is suitable for anyone comfortable riding with low to low-medium volumes of car traffic, he said.
Jamaica Greenway bike routes by Jon Orcutt
For Bike New York advocate Jon Orcutt, a good bike ride usually brings him to waterfront attractions along Jamaica Bay, such as Floyd Bennet Field or the Jamaica Bay Greenway.
From as far north as the Williamsburg Bridge, Orcutt recommends cyclists take the Nostrand Avenue bus lane to shoot straight into southern Brooklyn.
“[Bus lanes] are pretty well respected by drivers and so give you a good amount of space from traffic versus the parked-up bike lane of Bedford Avenue,” Orcutt says of the Nostrand Avenue bus lane.
As the bus lane doesn’t extend all the way through Brooklyn, riders can head down Flatbush where Nostrand ends, which takes them straight into Marine Park. Orcutt says that route is still manageable for less road-tested cyclists, but that the city should work to provide better connectivity.
“Hopefully the city will put in work to provide more generous cross-borough bikeways,” he said. “With the refurbished greenway and the trails in newly-opened Shirley Chisholm Park, Jamaica Bay has potential to be a hot-bed of bike riding, but it needs to be better connected to the adjacent neighborhoods.”
From Marine Park, you can connect to the Jamaica Bay Greenway at Floyd Bennett Field, and ride that along the water as far east as Queens!