The Worst Day of the Year Ride is February 11th

Central Park in fall (on a bike)

Posted by on October 27th, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Central Park in Fall-11

Pedaling Central Park on a perfect fall day would make you smile too.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Yes, despite the approaching super-mega-disaster storm headed my way, I’m still here in New York City.

Coverage from New York City
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Despite the impending doom, today was actually a gorgeous day: over 60-degrees, some clouds, and even some sun. It was a perfect day to see Central Park in all of its fall splendor. But before I share a few photos and thoughts from my time in the park today, I want to update folks on coverage that’s in the works. Stay tuned for a full recap of the panel of big city commissioners that capped off the fantastic NACTO Designing Cities conference. I’ve also got at least one more story to share from one of the sessions I attended. As far as New York City bike culture and infrastructure, I spent 12 hours out on the streets today (and 10 hours yesterday) so I’ve got loads more of that to share too.

Now, back to Central Park…

The last (and only) time I visited New York City was about 10 years ago and Central Park was full of snow. And I didn’t have a bike. Today was the first time I rode around the loop, and it was magnificent. I entered the park from E 91st Street, which happens to have a carfree block between 2nd and 3rd avenues. Are their any blocks in downtown Portland where we could create a street park like this? (And yes, those are sharrow markings on the road)…

Central Park in Fall-1

Once I got to Central Park, I took the one-way loop north. The road, East Drive, was packed with all manner of riders, walkers, joggers, and so on. The people were a mix of locals and tourists, young and old, racers and slow-pokes. There were no cars allowed on the road, so the cycling was sublime. The markings and traffic management system they have worked pretty well; but as I looped around to the southern end of the park, things got really chaotic.

Overall, I could not be more impressed. Central Park has got to be one of, if not the best park in the world (and biking the loop is just one tiny aspect of what it offers!).

Here are a few more photos…

Central Park in Fall-7

Central Park in Fall-10

Central Park in Fall-2

Central Park in Fall-6

Central Park in Fall-12

Central Park in Fall-13

Central Park in Fall-9

Central Park in Fall-8

And to think, this amazing park is smack dab in the middle of a vast metropolis…

Central Park in Fall-14

Up next: My ride down the protected bike lanes on 1st Ave, Broadway and the amazing plazas in Times Square!

— This post is part of my ongoing New York City coverage. I’m here for a week to cover the NACTO Designing Cities conference and the city’s bike culture in general. This special reporting trip was made possible by Planet Bike, Lancaster Engineering, and by readers like you. Thank you! You can find all my New York City coverage here.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • pixelgate October 27, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    Excellent photos!

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  • Thank You For Seeing Me October 28, 2012 at 5:56 am

    Great photos! Those colors are brilliant! Makes me miss NYC so much. We were just there too and fell in love with the city more than ever before. Saw a lot more smiles this time.

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  • Dean October 28, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Looks great, some cracking photographs and people do look happy. However there seems to be a lot of cyclists not wearing helmets.

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  • Barbara October 28, 2012 at 11:40 am

    You ask about streets we could close off like that in Portland. The park blocks come immediately to my mind. Around PSU they are already like that. Close the rest of the streets off for cars and open them just for bikes. The only problem are the remaining crossing with fast cars of streets like SW Jefferson. The North Park Blocks would probably work, too.

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  • Spiffy October 28, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    again, not seeing a lot of helmets in NYC…

    love it!

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  • Joe Adamski October 28, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Great shots, Jonathan! And Manhattan by bike is no more difficult than Portland.. I was surprised how easily we moved and the courtesy of drivers was surprising, even the cabs!

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  • A.K. October 29, 2012 at 9:41 am

    How long is the loop around central park? Miles?

    I’ve never been there so I’m having a hard time imagining how big, or not, it is.

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    • Paul in the 'couve October 29, 2012 at 4:49 pm

      Full loop 6.1 miles but there are 2 car free ways to cut across (legally without dismounting). The park is 3 miles n/s and .5 miles e/w. It actually has a couple of noticeable hills. Nothing like Northwest PDX, but it isn’t totally flat.

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    • Mike October 30, 2012 at 10:47 am

      I train on my road bike mostly in Prospect Park (South Brooklyn) these days, but have ridden in Central Park extensively as well. It’s actually a pretty ideal place to ride. Very dynamic terrain, with some considerable hills. It’s not flat at all, more like riding through winding country roads. Prospect Park is a lot more monotonous in terms of terrain, and the loop is shorter, but seeing as Central Park has gotten even more crowded in the last year than ever before, one can bike in Prospect without too much interference. A big problem in both parks, but especially Central Park, are tourists – either on bikes or walking – with their head in the clouds, taking up the whole road, crossing or swerving suddenly without looking or signaling, etc. Every day this Summer I rode in Central Park I witnessed at least 2 accidents involving cyclists, and it was exclusively due to this afore-mentioned obliviousness. The city needs to implement signage that requires slow-moving traffic to stay to the right, and to remain vigilant, keep their kids close, etc. More importantly, the NYPD needs to actually enforce both the existing and these prospective laws, instead of just exclusively targeting cyclists, which is what they do. Often they will try and issue a ticket for some non-extant offense. Both law enforcement and certain demographics of the local population will blame and castigate cyclists as scoff-laws, etc, when in my experience it has been careless pedestrians and arrogant motorists that are equally and if not more to blame for traffic accidents.

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  • Paul October 29, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I actually prefer Prospect Park in Brooklyn for cycling because it’s less crowded.

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  • jim October 30, 2012 at 12:39 am

    What- No picture of the crane hanging off the 90 story building?

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  • jim October 31, 2012 at 10:57 am

    J- like allways you have a good eye for photography

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