One of the best ways to get around New York City is not on four wheels. It's on two.
Riding a bicycle may seem intimidating in Manhattan, with all of the crazy yellow cabs zooming about. But it can actually be a relaxed way to sightsee—if you stick to a few safe and scenic locations.
Depending on the kind of ride you'd like to have, some trails may suit you better than others. Consider trying part of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, a 32-mile bike trail that encircles nearly the entire island. Most of this scenic route runs along the shoreline, under several bridges, and winds through various parks. Drift off the path whenever you'd like to visit many of Manhattan's eclectic neighborhoods.
Here is a bite-size stretch of the Greenway that I'd recommend: Start out at a café along the Hudson River on the Upper West Side, making your way down to Chelsea Piers and Battery Park, where you can take a breather by the docks. Then continue up the East Side, possibly stopping in Soho, the East Village, and Midtown.
If a circuit around Manhattan doesn't sound like your cup of tea, try Central Park!
This 50-block, nature haven is a biker's dream and offers its own set of bike trails, with varying levels of difficulty. The main Park Drives have three main long-distance routes: 6.1 mi., 5.2 mi., or 1.7 mi. There are also a number of shorter routes you can find by just crossing the Park. Keep in mind that the drives are closed to traffic (cars, not bikes) on Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., and on weekends from 7 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Monday. So plan your ride around these times if you don't want to be bothered by motorists.
How to rent a bike: Go for a road bike if you're looking to fly like the wind, a mountain bike if you'd like tires wider than a pin needle for steadier balance when traveling slowly, or a hybrid. There are loads of places from which you can rent a two-wheeler. The average price tends to hover around $10/hour and $35-50/day. Bike New York has an annually updated list of rental shops and provides their locations, phone numbers, prices, and more.
Hope to see you riding around town this summer!
Official online bike maps for New York
List of New York bike rental shops