Bicycling & Greenways
A greenway is a linear open space, such as a path or trail, which links parks and communities around the City, providing public access to green spaces and the waterfront. Greenways expand recreational opportunities for walking, jogging, biking, and in-line skating.
In 1993, the City of New York had a vision to create 350 miles of landscaped bicycle and pedestrian paths that would crisscross the City's five boroughs and enrich the lives of all New Yorkers. Currently Parks has built over 100 miles of the proposed greenway system. Greenways answer the growing public demand for safe and pleasant ways to travel about the City. These trails allow one to get to work or school, shop or do errands, or to reach the waterfront, parks, beaches, and museums.
Cyclists, joggers, strollers, skaters, people in wheelchairs or who are mobility-impaired, dog walkers, bird watchers, kids and adults, families and friends, recreational users and commuters—in short, everyone and anyone—gain from the presence and production of greenways. As levels of obesity and diabetes rise among our population, the need to stay fit and healthy has never been more urgent. In order to ensure that no one has to travel too far to use an athletic facility, we are constantly looking to add new properties where parkland previously did not exist and when that is not possible, to bring people to existing facilities.
Using greenways helps keep you healthy. By bicycle riding, walking, jogging, or skating on the greenways, you can get exercise in an enjoyable way and spend time outdoors!
Riding a bicycle is a form of exercise, recreation, and transportation. Try bicycle riding for your daily commute and see how favorably it compares to driving a car, riding the bus, or taking the subway. Bicycles often get you there in less time, and the scenery is better! It's good for you AND the environment.
For the Environment
The fewer cars we drive and the fewer car trips we make, the cleaner our air becomes. Bicycles and skates don't pollute! By choosing to bike, you will reduce automobile congestion and pollution, thus improving the quality of life in our city. The City's environmental health is also improved because trees are planted along the City's greenways.
Designated bicycle paths are excellent places to learn how to ride! Riding on designated bicycle paths is safer than riding on unsigned streets and roads.
Greenways are fun! Skate and enjoy time with friends or family, walk to the playground, bike with your children… Trees and plants along greenways make using these paths a relaxing escape from the asphalt jungle. Rediscover New York City's parks, rivers, harbors, and bays! You will see natural landscapes and amazing city views missed by most drivers.
The New York City greenway system does not permit riding off-trail. It is illegal because bicycle wheels can destroy vegetation and habitat in sensitive ecological areas by tearing up ground cover, thereby promoting erosion. Please help us preserve and protect New York City's fragile open spaces… ride only on designated pathways.
Parks has partnered with the New York City Mountain Bike Association in Manhattan and Concerned Long Island Mountain Bikers in Queens to open mountain biking-specific trails in Highbridge Park (Manhattan) and Cunningham Park (Queens). These trails are designed to maximize the thrill and enjoyment for mountain bikers while being respectful of the parks' natural environment and other park users.
By following standards set by IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association) for sustainability, the trail systems in Highbridge and Cunningham Parks mitigate the effects of erosion and create trails with minimal impact on the surrounding plants and wildlife. But they're built to offer a progressive experience for riders ranging in skill from beginners to experts. Utilizing natural obstacles like rocks and logs for additional challenge on the more and most difficult trails, New York City's mountain bike trails reflect the city's unique topography.
Both Highbridge and Cunningham Parks offer advanced terrain for mountain bike and BMX dirt jumpers, with large and small jump lines as well as pump tracks. In addition, Highbridge offers a freeride trail, riddled with drops, berms, and steep lines that snakes down Fort George Hill's 150 feet of vert (vertical elevation).
Mountain biking offers a potent mix of aerobic exercise, technical skill development, and outdoor experience. The mountain bike trails in NYC are appropriate for riders of all skill levels, and trails are clearly marked with difficulty level. Proper safety gear is mandatory - Helmets and eye protection are REQUIRED for all trails, with full face helmets and body armor recommended for the Highbridge Park freeride trail.
Future plans for mountain biking in New York City include trails in all five boroughs, with trails in Wolfe's Pond Park on Staten Island slated to open in 2008.Download the Cunningham trail map (PDF, 2 MB)
Download the Highbridge trail map (PDF, 909 KB)
Important Highbridge trail safety warnings(PDF, 615 KB)
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Important Mountain Biking Safety Information
- Mountain bicycling is a healthy and challenging sport.
- There are inherent risks of injury when using mountain bike trails.
- Man-made and natural trail features can be dangerous, and may change daily due to nature and use.
- Watch for hidden dangers as well as roots, rocks, logs, pot-holes, falling trees, branches, drop-offs, cliffs, etc.
- Always inspect trails/features before using and assess against your skill level.
- Do not stop in the middle of the trail. Move quickly to the side to avoid collisions.
- Yield to riders who are riding uphill.
- Stay on trails and do not make short-cuts.
- Trail sections may be closed for re-routing or habitat restoration. Please let it re-grow.
- PLEASE DO NOT BUILD OR MODIFY TRAILS WITHOUT PERMISSION.
Call 911 to report emergencies. Call 311 to report hazardous trail conditions.
Trail Etiquette Tips
- Ride on open trails only.
- Leave no trace, carry out trash.
- Control your bicycle at all times.
- Be friendly and yield to hikers (and horses, where allowed).
- Never damage plants or scare wildlife.
- Plan ahead, be prepared for emergencies.
- Ride paved bike paths if trails are wet and muddy.
- Exercise good judgment and act in a responsible manner.
Locking your bicycle to a tree is harmful to the tree…and could cost you a $1,000 fine! Chains and locks can damage the protective bark and the cambium (inner skin) layer of a tree. The cambium layer transports sap, the lifeblood of trees, and is the most delicate part of a tree. Chains and locks can also leave a permanent scar on the trunk and leave an opening for parasites and fungus. Be tree-friendly and don't lock your bike to one!
Learn to Ride
The Parks Department and Bike New York are proud to present Learn to Ride classes for children. In these free classes, we’ll teach your son or daughter the fundamentals of bicycling, preparing him or her for years of safe and confident riding.