Spring is finally here and it’s a great time to dust off your helmet, pump up your tires, and take your bike back into the streets. Bushwick has a number of bicycle-friendly corridors perfect for exploring the neighborhood, getting some exercise and commuting door-to-door, while skipping the MTA fare altogether.
Of course, there are obstacles when it comes to riding in New York City: potholes pockmark roadways, broken glass litters thoroughfares, and traffic snarls around, and sometimes into, bike lanes. Riders should take basic safety precautions, wear a helmet, and stay alert for unpredictable vehicles and pedestrians.
Despite these challenges, bicycle infrastructure continues to expand with ongoing improvement projects in progress throughout Brooklyn. Cycling is only growing in popularity, with over half a million trips made by bicycle every day in NYC, according to a study last year by the Department of Transportation’s report on cycling trends.
With Maria Hernandez Park as a central starting point, here are three fun bike routes around North Brooklyn to try out as the weather warms up.
The Commuter Ride: From Bushwick to Manhattan via the Williamsburg Bridge
Distance: 2.4 miles
This route skips many busy thoroughfares and takes advantage of quiet side streets for a fairly easy ride into the city by way of the Williamsburg Bridge.
From Maria Hernandez Park: Head north on Knickerbocker Avenue, mindful of the stop signs and numerous pedestrians in this active business corridor. Cross Flushing Avenue and take a left on Thames Street – passing by landmarks like Urban Jungle, Syndicated, and Roberta’s. Cross Bogart street and stay straight on Moore Street, mindful of occasional unloading truck, until you hit Manhattan Avenue.
Take a right. Ride a few short blocks before hanging a left on Meserole Street. Keep heading west until you cross under the BQE to the Class 1 protected bike lane. Hook around Continental Army Plaza and brace yourself for final grind over the Williamsburg Bridge and into the city.
Riding Through North Brooklyn
Distance: 7.8 miles
Explore North Brooklyn’s parks with a zig-zag route through north Brooklyn and Ridgewood. The route alternates between side streets and busier thoroughfares, meandering on one-way streets to through no fewer than seven different parks: Maria Hernandez, Irving Square, Grover Cleveland, McGolrick, McCarren, and Domino Park.
From Maria Hernandez Park: Take Irving Avenue east, until Halsey Street. Turn right and you’ll land at Irving Square Park. Circle back to Cornelia Street which and that will shoot you up to Ridgewood. Make your way up to Grandview Avenue via Woodward Avenue and any number of side streets there.
Grover Cleveland Park is at the end of Grandview Avenue and, on a clear day, it will give you a great view of Manhattan from the top of the hill. Work your way down the hill past Linden Hill Cemetery before turning left on Troutman Street, which will continue downhill and bring you back to Knickerbocker Avenue. Follow Knickerbocker across the train tracks just after Johnson Avenue.
Be careful of truck traffic as Knickerbocker merges into Morgan Avenue; a quick left on Meserole Street will bring you to a quieter area. Waterbury Street is a bit bumpy but will lead you to Olive Street and eventually Cooper Park. Head north on Kingsland, cross under the BQE, and turn left on Driggs Avenue to find yourself at McGolrick Park. Make a pitstop at any number of the coffee shops or restaurants on the park’s southern edge or continue onto Driggs until you hit McCarren Park.
For the last stretch: North 12th Street will bring you to a two-way bike lane at Kent Avenue. Take a left and make your way towards the looming Williamsburg Bridge. Kent runs parallel to Domino Park and you’ll get a spectacular waterfront view here by entering the park either on Grand Street or South 5th Street.
The Ridgewood Reservoir Ride
Distance: 2.6 miles one way
This ride brings you to the north-east corner of Brooklyn to Highland Park and the Ridgewood Reservoir. Tucked between hilly cemeteries, the park and reservoir straddle the Brooklyn-Queens border and serve as a pleasant respite from the urban buzz of East Bushwick.
From Maria Hernandez Park: ride east on Irving Avenue, sticking to the Class 2 bike lane all the way to the end until you reach Cooper Street. Take a left and proceed past Nowadays and Knollwood Cemetery until Cypress Avenue.
Now for the tricky part: bear right on Cypress and head up the short hill. This section of the route tends to be busy with traffic and cars, so exercise caution and take the sidewalk if it feels too dicey. Proceed to the right on Vermont Place, cross under the Jackie Robinson Parkway and cruise downhill into Highland Park, where you’ll find a crosswalk that will allow you to cross over to the sloped path up to the Ridgewood Reservoir proper.
The reservoir offers a smooth path for both pedestrians and cyclists alike and runs just over ¾ a mile, full-circle. You can dip off the path and exit on the south side of the reservoir, or complete the circuit to and double back the way you came in.
For the route back to Bushwick, mirror your way back to Cooper Street and take Knickerbocker Avenue instead of Irving Avenue.
Duncan Ballantine is a producer, photographer, and cyclist who has been riding bikes in New York City for over seven years. He has lived in Flatbush, Bedstuy, Bushwick, and Ridgewood and regularly commutes throughout the city by bike.
All images taken by Duncan Ballantine for Bushwick Daily.
For more news, sign up for Bushwick Daily’s newsletter.
Join the fight to save local journalism by becoming a paid subscriber.